Paxeducare’s Blog

International Institutes on Peace Education (IIPE), Budapest
August 12, 2009, 5:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just returned from almost a month away with my husband, visiting our daughter in Ukraine, where she is posted in the Peace Corps, then to IIPE in Budapest and then a week’s bike trip in Austria. One thing that came clear to me is the tangible evidence in Eastern Europe of war. War memorials are everywhere. Keeping that in mind, it was a phenomenal experience, once again, to attend IIPE for my third experience. IIPE is an intentional gathering of about 60 peace educators from around the world, held each year at a different site, who build community while learning from shared experiences, putting into practice the pedagogy of peace. The gathering is kept intentionally small so that community building can take place and real relationships nurtured. At the end of each of the 6 days, we gather in the same small groups, to reflect upon our shared learnings. It is very difficult to choose which workshops to go to, as they run simultaneously. Plenaries are moderated by several of the participants. The philosophy of IIPE is that there are no so-called “experts” needed from outside, that the learning can come within our community. So we  may see  certain folks speaking during one of the plenaries, participating in a workshop and a reflection group, and taking part in a hilarious skit at Cultural Night. IIPE combines fun and laughter with serious purpose. It has, unfortunately, made it very difficult for me to wish to attend any other professional gatherings-none can quite match up. Thanks are due to organizers Tony Jenkins and Janet Gerson of the Peace Education Center at Teachers College, and to Eva Nagy of the EJBO Foundation in Hungary.

The theme of this year’s IIPE was “Human Rights Learning as Peace Education: Pursuing Democracy in a Time of Crisis”. Plenaries and workshops reflected this theme. We heard in plenaries some philosophical underpinnings for human rights and democratic education, learned about the issues with the Roma people (Gypsies), about education for rural women in India, visioning a new kind of peace playground, human rights teacher training in Mexico, justice issues in Palestine-Israel, with women and education in Afghanistan and with the oil rich region of Nigeria. These, together with all of the other experiences, are truly a lot to integrate. Such inspiring work, and I was especially inspired by the creative spirit and endeavors of so many of the young adults present.

All workshops are experiential.  I attended a most interesting one led by Fr. CP Anto, who is doing peace education in the highly conflicted area of Nagaland. Another was led by a Norwegian peace educator, Anne Margrete Halvorsen, who shared with us, among other things, her work with a bridge program between Norwegian and Pakistani schools. A workshop on philosophy and world order and one on pedagogy, writing and peace education rounded out the week.

Participants in Fr. Anto's Workshop on the conflicts in Nagaland, India and his work in peace education

Participants in Fr. Anto's Workshop on the conflicts in Nagaland, India and his work in peace education

I led a workshop entitled “Mysticism and the Poetic: Language and Unlanguage: Transforming Conceptions of Human Rights, Peace Pedagogy and Democracy”. This will be posted soon on the Pax Educare web site.

IIPE Founder Betty Reardon with Eva Nagy, local IIPE host

IIPE Founder Betty Reardon with Eva Nagy, local IIPE host

Awards Ceremonyreflection groupkittykats


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