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by Clare Wildhack-Nolan, Youth Development Facilitator
By John McShane, Community Programs Director
One of my favorite participants in a peacebuilding workshop at a resident retired community told the following story: “Looking back, many of us can remember a time when we were picked on, bullied, or, in some way, made to feel unwelcome or alone. Sadly, this sometimes continues as we move to apartment or resident retired communities. It’s like high school all over again.” She continued, “The difference is that in high school, you had a friend to talk to or could even go home at the end of the day. Worst case was that you knew you were getting out of school one day, that there was an end in sight. The difference here, though, is that for new residents, we don’t have friends yet, we aren’t going home at the end of the day, and for many of us this is the last place we are going to live. We deserve better than that.”
Peace Learning Center began hosting community peace building workshops for retired communities in 2015. The training was provided to residents, staff, and management. Results were impressive. One Service Coordinator reports that:
Based on successes, experiences, and lessons learned, we have created a two-day “Train the Trainer” workshop for Service Coordinators and Social Service Workers, the Community Peace Building Academy. Prospective participants are those who serve either apartment based or residential communities. This two day workshop will be hosted at Peace Learning Center’s Indianapolis facility on March 23 and 24, 2017.
Course materials are based on PLC original work and the Help Increase the Peace Program (HIPP) manual created by the American Friends Service Committee, a time tested curriculum for community peace building. Participants will learn to facilitate PLC learning modules based on:
Academy graduates will be certified HIPP and PLC workshop facilitators and will be able to facilitate workshops at their own facilities. Valued at $600 per participant, PLC will provide books, materials, and lunch for the two-day training.
Working with the retired community has been a surprising and beautiful experience. Building and a sense of shared community through dialogue and storytelling has been powerful for all participants – including me. I’ve met and learned from an original “Rosie, The Riveter,” who shared her stories of building airplanes during WWII. I shared memories with Santa Clause! My friend, John, was a Santa at Indianapolis’ L.S. Ayers and Company in the early 1970’s. John told proud stories of his red velvet Santa suit. (There were two, actually. One to wear while the other was at the cleaners!) John and I did some math and think I may have sat on his lap, “back in the Day!”
The community spirit of dialogue with dignity and respect has been a springboard for minimizing conflict and misunderstandings. Watching residents create and grow their own peaceful communities has been inspirational. The Community Peace Builders Academy will help other facilitators to continue the work!
Find out more and register here
Because I believe that conflict is inevitable, the meaning of peace and how to achieve it will always change with time. Peace means open and honest conversation is encouraged, and no one is silenced. Healthy mediation is in place, and nonviolent tactics are used to manage conflicts. Honest and respectful relationships exist, and individuals protect one another. I think that peace can be achieved, however, it is not an easy task by any means. Peace can be achieved through mediation, conversation, democracy, and nonviolence.
My most memorable moment with PLC so far was helping with the MLK 19th Annual Community Festival on January 14th. I really enjoyed being a part of such an important event for our community. Participating in this event was an honor, and I truly have learned more about leadership.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared” is a quote by Buddha I live by. I always want to live a peaceful life and constantly try to make other people feel more happy and accepted.
Rose is currently taking a short break from school. She was previously at Butler University from Fall 2015-Fall 2016 in the Peace and Conflict Studies program. After this semester off from school, she will be attending IUPUI to study Philanthropy. Rose has a broad interest in all social issues, but in particular, she finds herself mainly focusing on gender equality, racism, and environmental issues. She finds all social issues valid and of extreme importance; however, these are ones she often finds particularly important. Aside from school, she loves music, and plays piano and violin for fun. She also loves hanging out with her cats in her free time.
To me, Peace means the opportunity for genuine dialogue. As Martin Buber called it, the “I and Thou” moments. In those moments, there are no hidden agendas, no assumptions, and no judgments. There are only people coming together to talk and listen. I think peace can be achieved through the “I and Thou” moments. Everyone just needs to be willing to open themselves up to others.
It is hard for me to pick a most memorable moment at Peace Learning Center, as all of my moments have been memorable. I have only been there for two weeks, but I have already learned quite a bit about what it is like behind the scenes at a nonprofit. I will also never forget how everyone was kind and welcomed me in from the very beginning.
To quote my favorite lyric, from my favorite song in the musical RENT, “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” I try to live by this quote because life is too short to have regrets. Worrying over something behind you can keep you from learning the lessons of the past. Not only that, but it can keep you from enjoying yourself in the present.