Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I learned the meaning of Peace

When he first took part in the Youth Academy of Peace, Mohamad felt worried because he had to work with people from different religions and sects. In his opinion, people are grouped according to their sectarian identities. He has the judgment of a divided society and he could not make any change alone. However, this conviction has changed after he joined the Academy for three months in Ein. He found in LOST a place to learn, share and exchange ideas with others. He realized later that sectarian difference is not a negative thing; on the contrary it could be a motive for creativity and innovation. He also shared his experience with others and built up his communication skills in a manner that he didn’t do before.

“In the Academy of Peace I learned how to communicate with others, I participated actively in workshops and debates about tolerance and building peace in society. I learned the meaning of peace and I felt that I really want to build it in my neighborhood. Most importantly, I found out that the more we work together the better we become.” The Academy is not only a place to make friends, but it’s a program to empower and engage youth in social and public life. Although it’s only a three month program, however, it offers a type of education and learning that is unique in the region.

“Youth are not protected in our society, they are easily infected by the diseases of sectarian divide, but our job here is to shelter them. In fact, we organize special workshops and debates about citizenship and civic participation, peace and tolerance in order to make youth more aware and confident of their existence and their vigorous role in society. We help them to become Lebanese active citizens away of sectarianism!” affirmed Ali Nazha, the Academy coordinator at Ein Branch.

The Youth Academy of Peace is a youth engagement program that LOST is continuously running every three months throughout the year. It comprises a set of civic workshops and a 32-hour social media and IT training, in addition to a number of activities that participants suggest and implement themselves. It makes a difference when hundreds of youth participants attend every year, they learn the meaning of peace and they can create it.

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