Teaching Reconciliation in Burma
Drawing from Buddhist concepts that transforming society begins with the transformation of individuals, a Thai capacity building group is working to ease ethnic tension and conflict in Myanmar one person at a time.
Spirit in Education Movement (SEM) offers a spiritually based, ecologically focused, holistic approach to peacebuilding in Myanmar/Burma. SEM’s philosophy is drawn from Buddhist-inspired analysis and practice (engaged Buddhism).
In partnership with the Fetzer Institute, SEM has offered an in-depth training to ethnically diverse youth on conflict resolution, trauma reduction and unlearning oppression.
The program takes a “train the trainers” approach, supporting local youth to facilitate these processes within their own communities.
The training focuses on attitude change, leadership, developing compassion, understanding prejudice, the structural role of violence, the role of media, community-led development, and other peacebuilding and related themes.
Those trained have then led community-based workshops in their own areas where poverty, ethnic tensions and issues of authority have been long-standing problems; participants in these extension week-long workshops were youth from diverse ethnic groups in areas with few opportunities to explore and develop their own capacities to contribute to building peace within their communities.
Many of the youth and their extension training participants have now begun working together to help solve issues in their communities, where political and economic changes are also creating increased vulnerabilities and likelihood for conflicts to arise.
They are offering an example to the next generation of how to contribute their own capacities to heal the wounds of the past, and build together the foundations for a pluralistic and peaceful society in Myanmar for the future.
This is a program of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Humanities.