Some Stories and Reflections on the Jobshadowing Experience
Jobshadowing is something new for me, both as a concept and as an experience. These opportunities are very limited in my country, and partnerships with EU youth organizations are especially more difficult to find. While my organization, Gaston Zavalla Ortigas Peace Institute is a partner of the jobshadowing project with 9 other organizations from EU and non-EU countries, I had to google the traditional meaning of jobshadowing which is “a program for students to find out what it is like to be in a specific profession. This helps the student to choose the college program (higher education/training) and subsequently the profession that they would like to choose. However, the act of job shadowing is also utilized by college students or by non-student adults simply wanting to experience a particular career opportunity. In either, the shadower will follow the professional and observe their daily work” (Education 2020 Homeschool, Vocabular, Career Elective, ‘definition of job shadowing’).
Jobshadowing as defined in this project focuses not on the ‘career opportunity’ part but on the learning experience from other organizations and their programs and projects. With peacebuilding as the overarching theme along with specific MDGs on poverty and gender equality, the jobshadower is immersed in an intensive week-long work experience that baffles as much as it enlightens.
Hurdles Before the Shadowing
Through United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) I now have this 'emergency' jobshadowing experience. The visa problems of our Philippine jobshadower to Romania proved to be a very difficult barrier. Debbie (our original jobshadower) had to apply for the Romanian visa twice, only to be informed that they lost her passport and would contact her as soon as they find it. The double whammy is that the jobshadowing project must end by October, which makes it virtually impossible for the Philippine partner (my organization Generation Peace-GZO Peace Institute) to send a jobshadower.
Since my organization had been a UNOY partner for a couple of years now and I have been involved as an International Steering Group member as well, we were also offered this opportunity for a EYCB Study Session on Peacebuilding and Volunteering in Budapest. The Schengen Visa is a difficult hurdle, but since I will be taking part in the Budapest study session, I potentially have the opportunity to use the same visa for the jobshadowing experience, or no jobshadowing for the Philippines at all. Visa is very difficult for Philippine citizens entering Europe's Schengen states. As an example, I am supposed to apply for a Hungarian visa but without an embassy in Manila, the Belgian Embassy issues in representation of Hungary. I have to request for entry in Hungary from the Belgium visa section, and if approved with more days than the study session, will have the opportunity of going to Barcelona, Spain for the jobshadowing project. To make the long story short, the visa section handed my visa 3 hours before my flight that I also had to rebook my flight to a flight itinerary two hours later.
Actually, I am supposed to have my visa 3 days earlier, which also means I arrived at Budapest 3 days later than expected--right smack into the middle of the study session week instead of a day before it. I really missed out a lot, but since Fundacio Catalunya Voluntaria (FCV) is also taking part in the study session along with the UNOY International Coordinator, but as a facilitator/co-organizer, I already had a glimpse of how their global networks, international workshops, and non-formal teaching approaches work. In a way, the study session is already part of my jobshadowing experience, particularly when I shared the current calls for an 'all-out war', the Mindanao conflict, and the history of the armed struggles in the Philippines. Since Lillian from UNOY also took part in the jobshadowing by visiting the Philippines, she was also able to share some of her experiences in Mindanao and the Philippines, and included some essential examples in peacebuilding work (i.e. the chance to dialogue with MILF negotiators, the participation of women and youth as best practices during the study session, etc.).
Onward to Barcelona
I arrived on October 30th in Barcelona without much fanfare, after all the Budapest Study Session on Volunteering and Peacebuilding had just finished and it is such an enriching experience that I have yet to digest, reflect and meditate on how it impacts the way we work in the Philippine setting. The opportunity also allows me to see how the international linkages between the UNOY and the FCV as partners in an international training course work together. After flying from Budapest to Munich to Barcelona, I am very excited to see how EU youth organizations work, the work culture, and how they accomplish their personal and organizational goals.
On October 31st, I had the chance to do a workshop discussion on the Philippine Peacebuilding experience with partners of the Fundacio Catalunya Voluntaria. Europe and the rest of the world, are not aware of the difficulties that we have to face in the Philippines vis-a-vis the armed conflicts and youth initiatives. It was a great experience sharing the organization's initiatives and the Mindanao conflict to a group composed of participants from Spain, Turkey and Colombia.
It is a new thing for them to learn more about events happening in the Philippines such as the recent call for an all-out war in the country, and how people have been supportive of this call to arms! (96% of survey respondents showed that they support an all-out war policy instead of peace). Unfortunately, even Filipino youths have very limited knowledge and appreciation of peacebuilding efforts. It is also surprising to note that the Colombian participants connected well, and understood the impact of armed conflicts and the proliferation of weapons in the Philippines since Colombia also has these features.
Tatiana, the jobshadower from Spain who was sent to Ghana, also presented her jobshadowing experience and her learnings from her first trip to Africa. I learned a lot not just from her sharing, but also cultural-wise from the work culture and processes of the foundation as well. I learned that project proposals are crucial to the work of the organizations. It was a very unlikely but fortunate time for me to be observing these hard working volunteers, part-time workers and permanent staff do their work--proposal writing and coordination with partner organizations from all over the world.
The work of the Fundacio Catalunya Voluntaria seems very daunting. I could not have jobshadowed at a more busy time of the year. I learned that in the European setting that there are readily available modalities for youth participation and more importantly, access to resources from European states and its supra-national mechanisms. This also implies that there are funding and proposal cycles that are part of the life of youth organizations here. FCV is currently working on many of their proposals this week. With the Todos los Santos holiday, people at the office had been scurrying back and forth--writing, editing, discussing, albeit arguing on their different project proposals. Jobshadowing it is, for I have to become a "shadow" and observe as this happens. I find it amusing but at the same time energizing to absorb such a work culture, with each employee, part-time worker and volunteer being well-versed and knowing already what to do and how to accomplish it. Here's a photo of our evening at the office. We were only able to leave the office because the custodian came in and reminded us that he will close the building in 5 minutes!
Funding Application European-Style
With two of the finished funding applications in hand, Meg and I had to travel halfway across the city to specifically hand in the application forms to the government agency responsible for reviewing it.It was the first time for me to take the Barcelona metro. You can see in the photo that Meg is carrying this thick folder full of documents for the project application process. I learned that there are regular project cycles in Europe, with these project terminologies being part of the youth organization's cultures and even calendars, since these funding cycles are done on regular schedules across Europe. Terminologies such as "Youth in Action", or specific numbers 3.1, 3.2, etc. are already part of organizational culture. The proposal cycles, the item numbers, the application forms have all been instituted and embedded on the culture of youth civil society organizations. The European mechanisms for participation, I would dare say, are methodical and process-wise very organized. The downside of these opportunities is that organizations become very limited in their approaches to resource mobilization, many of which become ‘project proposal chasers’ without knowing it. Alternatives to this type of organizational resource mobilization are sadly limited. What can one do but to submit a proposal and hope to get approved to sustain an organization for a month or so?
I learned that while funding may be readily available for the youth organizations, the competition is stiff and it is very common for organizations to experience being turned down. However I also learned that FCV has a very high 'batting average' so to speak. We went to a Generalitat de Catalunya building where the offices are concerned with family and social welfare issues. Here I took a photo beside the signage which writes, "The New Catalonia National Youth Plan."
I believe youth issues and agendas are well-built into the Catalunya Government's ideals. Access to the government is a right in a democracy, and while this is not yet realized in the Philippines, here it is a given reality.
After setting policy visist meetings, Meg and I learned that most policy makers are unavailable due to the non-working All Saints’ Day. We still had the opportunity to meet with Manos Unidos, Escola de Cultura de Pau, the Philippine Embassy and to see the office of the Catalonian Youth Council. I said ‘see the office’ because apparently the office is closed during regular office hours and normally opens at 5 o’clock in the afternoon since that is the time when most students and youth leaders are available. I can say that the office was very youth-oriented with their schedule as well as the ambience of the place which was very relaxed, cheerfully colorful and informal.
I learned that Manos Unidos works in around 60 countries worldwide and that they have also projects in the Philippines particularly in Bicol and through their partnership with Fr. Angel Calvo who is a peace advocate based in the Zamboanga Peninsula area. Manos works in two ways: 1) ‘Sensitivizing’ (which I think is conscienticization) Spanish youth with the issues that confront the rest of the world; and 2) provide support through grants and aids for the global south. The main work revolves around the themes of education, health, agriculture, women and socio-cultural promotion. Interestingly, I found out that its main driving force is the Catholic church through the church leadership. While funding is mainly privately mobilized, there are also some 20% coming from government funding. When I asked the Presidenta Delegada whether youth are a priority, she said commented that “Youth work is a priority because understanding and collaborating with youth is challenging.” Organizationally, I eventually would like to explore possible partnerships with Manos Unidos in the future, given the need for more intercultural and interreligious understanding in the armed conflicts in Mindanao.
The Escola de Cultura de Pau visit was very fascinating for me because I had to go there by myself and that the Universitat Autonoma where the research-advocacy center is based is outside the city limits. This was my only chance to go outside Barcelona and to commute by myself. Thanks to technologies that enable us to do our work far more easier than the generation before us, the Google Maps were accurate in the directions and the time estimates. I had a 7-minute walk towards the Parc de Recerca building where I was greeted by the very animated Jordi Urgell Garcia, a passionate investigador (which means a researcher and not a criminal investigator as I initially thought) who leads the conflict and peacebuilding programme in the Escola. We discussed about the Philippine Peacebuilding experience and I learned that he also travelled to the Philippines and did some research in Mindanao. We talked about his views about the Mindanao conflict, his meetings and interviews with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, civil society organizations in Mindanao and in Manila. I was also able to update him regarding the recent Basilan crisis in the Philippines, where 19 soldiers were killed and the escalating call from media and political leaders for an ‘all-out war’ call before I left Manila a week before. I was glad to share the thoughts of a kindred peace activist but also reflected upon the dearth of peace researchers in the country. He shared publications on comparative analysis of peace processes around the world, a global conflict map and other interesting publications that will help in our advocacy and peacebuilding work back home.
The visit to the consulate of the Philippines was also heartwarming since they were, well, Filipinos and had that homey and hospitable manner of greetings and sharing of stories. Meg and I were able to talk to the consul general and he said that Filipinos are largely not troublemakers in Barcelona, have adapted well to the local culture and are known by their foreign employers to be one of the most hardworking people the world over.
It is a reality that Filipinos have become the proletariats of the world, working in the most humbling of jobs. We lack opportunities back home—decent jobs, decent salaries, social security benefits—but are known to be productive and purposive with our strive for excellence in other countries. I think the Philippine diaspora enriches not just the economic ‘refugees’ so to speak, but at the same time provides for their families back home. It is not an ideal setup: leaving and sacrificing the tightly-knit large family networks for greener pastures, but a reality that the Filipino has to contend with.
One dances with the wind, and flows with the rivers in order to survive and thrive. I am also concerned with the Filipino culture and how each Pinoy promotes it outside his/her country. Since we are easily adaptable to whatever environment we are in, we are natural polyglots and assimilate other cultures smoothly. On the other hand, Filipino culture even the superficialities of food, clothing, way of living are not that easily spotted as compared to Chinese, Pakistani, Japanese, etc. expatriates.
I think the Filipinos in Barcelona can do so much more to promote national pride and Pinoy culture in more creative ways. Concurrently, it is not in the ‘leaving behind’ but in the ‘coming back’ that the Philippines is enhanced. If one can dream in Barcelona, then one can also dream in the home country. If rights are respected elsewhere, if the rule of law and democratic principles of governance can be followed in a foreign land, then one can also dream the same back home. Ultimately, Filipino travelers juxtapose foreign lands and the Philippines in their hearts and minds; and in doing so, will eventually realize the reforms needed for a country’s revival.
PINOY IN BARCELONA:
Some Stories and Reflections on the Jobshadowing Experience
(part 2 on Poverty and Gender Equality, Culture)
The jobshadowing is primarily looking into inspiration from the host organizations and their realities but on top of this having the jobshadowing in Barcelona is also an intercultural learning experience. For one, I have seen that while Spain suffers from one of the highest unemployment rate in the whole of Europe there are still ways to access support from the government if you are (un)fortunately fired from work, for example.
As in any other country, whether developed or developing, there are always packets of third world like bums in the streets, people with cardboard boxes for beds and people in conflict with the law or what we appropriately call ‘common’ criminals. Surprisingly, Barcelona also has these features although it is not a prominent feature of the society nor an intense local issue.
The huge difference with the Philippines and Spain is that the social welfare system works at a greater pace because people know the ways to participate and access governance structures, people do mobilize and are involved in organizations that in turn access resources or opportunities from the Catalonia Government, the National Government or the supra-national European Union mechanisms if needed.
The city also boasts of a fervent economic activity. For one there is a very dynamic tourism industry here and tourism’s upside is that it brings jobs, opportunities and business opportunities for locals as well as migrant communities. I have seen that Chinese, African and Pakistani migrants have been a prominent feature of the businesses in the streets—cafes, groceries, restaurants, tourist shops, etc. While most of the migrants have moved out of their countries in poverty, their dreams of prosperity and equal opportunity are somewhat fulfilled in Barcelona. Although one can say that these migrant communities, even the Filipino community itself, are still seen as different.
Migrant communities can also be seen by local Catalans as those that rob locals of work opportunities. I have talked to a migrant Pakistani who worked here for more than 8 years and he said that ‘Beggars cannot be choosers, we are in a different land so we do not choose what jobs to have, but we strive to be successful to send money back home.’
The migrant community might pose a threat to some but at the same time, migrants provide cultural dynamism that continually challenge and enrich the Catalan culture. New ideas and new food finds, new ways of doing things are just some of the benefits of having a diverse culture. In fact cultural evolution is possible when an anti-thesis to the culture exists. It can be a win-win situation, for the locals an enriched culture and creative ideas from halfway across the globe, for the migrants, a practical way or a one-way ticket out of poverty back home.
I was suprised that jobs which are commonly ‘male’ jobs back home are also genderized in Barcelona. As an example, women drivers are common in buses, taxis and delivery trucks. At the same time, women are also prominent in youth organizations. FCV has women in its leadership staff as well as its volunteer program. The organization we visited such as the Manos Unidos are also equal opportunity organizations.
I have shared with some people that our problems in the Philippines can seem very elementary compared to the issues in Barcelona. In the Philippines, the church has such a hold in political affairs and public policy that a very logical and practical approach at reproductive health is met with brimstone and hellfire. It would be very interesting to look closer at the gender isues in Barcelona but for the lack of time or key informants on the matter, I was not able to probe deeper on the gender issues in the area.
Barcelona has a very rich and diverse culture. It is a coastal city with ports already spanning centuries, near the border of France up north, faces the Mediterranean Sea and a historic city at the same time. The city is influenced by many different cultures and histories overlapping and connecting, confronting and challenging each other. It is this confluence of factors that enriched the present-day culture of the area. It is a city that is both laid back and at the same time on ‘work mode’.
Siesta anyone? I have not seen someone dozing off at work, but I personally witnessed that the lunch and coffee breaks take a lot of time. An hour of break can be considered as a blasphemous act against siesta, but kidding aside, people love food and beverages here. Discussions and debates, and work-related issues are often discussed during these long breaks as well. This is resting and relaxing while at the same time being productively and genuinely contented with life. FCV as an organization alternates between these days with long breaks or days without any breaks at all!
I always say that the best things in life are to find great food, and I can say that I have come to the right place. I have tasted the most unforgettable paella in my life here, I have also sampled the tapas in its infinite combinations. There are also halal and vegetarian options here, attesting to the dynamism of cultural influences from elsewhere. As a self-confessed intermittent alcohol and caffeine junkie, I enjoyed the breadth and depth of choices when it comes to coffees and cafes as well as with cervezas and wines.
The Catalonian Pride
Catalonia’s sense of national pride is something to feel and experience. Catalan as a language is strongly encouraged as a national policy. Free Catalan lessons are provided by the government, it is also the primary medium of instruction for the 8 or so universities within and around Barcelona. I think the Catalan national pride is also single-mindedly built in through football, afterall FC Barcelona has many of the finest players the world has ever known. The Philippine connection here is that the player that holds the FC Barcelona’s record for the most number of goals, and is known as “El Rompe Redes” (lit. net breaker) is Paulino Alcantara of a Filipino-Spanish origin. Beyond football, they Catalonians have identity anchors in their culture, language, history and traditions. While we have these in the Philippines as well, we have it in segmented or even irreconcilable in some ways.
I am also very fortunate to being homestayed while jobshadowing, in a way I had a glimpse of the touristy as well as the more locally-grounded experiences. Take the taberna experience for example; they have these after-office restobars that only serve drinks and aperitifs, the tradition is to go taberna-hopping for these aperitifs. This gives you enough opportunity to sample a multitude of food served on toothpicks. It is interesting that when you start paying, they count the toothpicks instead of the type of foods you ordered. Far more interesting is this is not dinner yet! For me though, and after a mouthful of bread-sausage-cheese combinations, it already is.
Barcelona has very efficient transportation with lines of trams, trains, metros and buses thrown into a gigantic weave crisscrossing through the city, connecting the heart and the districts through these numerous veins. I wish I could say the same thing for travelling around Metro Manila, where transport options are limited and patternless. The city is also a bike-friendly city, they have this bike program for residents where you can take a bike from one of the many bike stations, travel across the city and leave the bike in another bike station. There are bike lanes across the city and even with these options, I have seen numerous people travelling by skateboards or inline skates as well. Walking of course is a popular European travelling option, something that many Filipinos have already forgotten. Perhaps it is the crime rates that deter people from walking around Manila that much, or maybe the drivers’ irreverence for traffic rules, or the tropical heat.
In the Philippines, most office workers would be rushing home by 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening. I am fascinated that in Barcelona, the streets become alive starting at 8:00 until midnight. For this night though, I am skipping the usual touristy and populated areas of La Rambla and Plaza Catalunya. I met Meg at the wharf where hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes lay peacefully dancing with the mild waves of the dock. We took a 3-minute walk through a dark and stuffy alley and there found a tiny decrepit building about 50 meters from the Palau del Mar. My initial feeling is one of outdated-ness, if there is such a thing. In the middle of the darkness we stepped through a smoky wooden door and were greeted with warmth and vigor. The door itself is ferrous and smelled of iron. Inside were 80 or so people squeezed into a meat shop of sorts, with lots of champagnes and wines from across the bar and iron hooks with different meats and sausages hanging on all possible places over the ceiling. I learned that during the day this place is a wholesale meat store selling sausages, smoked pork and beef among other things, at night it morphs into a locals’ pub where one can order sausages, cheeses, wines and breads.
It was an extraordinary sight to behold, one that really made my day—an old historic building making sense of its present and a meat shop with its new found after dark role as a space to connect and discuss, with people getting livelier and more people coming in for a drink or two. In this meaty midst, two friends debrief each other about the day’s work.
PINOY IN BARCELONA:
Some Stories and Reflections on the Jobshadowing Experience
(Part 3 Afterthoughts)
The jobshadowing project is different with the usual networking and it is also different from the usual volunteering and internship programs. Through this project one views a glimpse of how peacebuilding work is done elsewhere, whether there are similarities and differences and if there are innovative or noteworthy way of doing things. To sum it up, my jobshadowing experience draws inspiration from the FCV as both a volunteer organization and a peacebuilding initiative.
After the whirlwind week shadowing with the organization and with Meg, I felt exhausted but at the same time inspired to go back and work on changes with my organization that may be beneficial in the long run. I have joked around that I am actually in a reality TV called ‘A Week in the Life of Meg’ since most of my interactions with the organization were through her. She really does have a very exhausting week during my stay in Barcelona.
I have also felt like an alien, even alienated being in Barcelona and making sense of everything from the organizational structures and mechanisms of FCV, to opening doors, buying train tickets or even just saying ‘Can I have my receipt?’ The analogy of the learning curve is that it is too steep, like that of a fish learning to live on land. Seeing the differences between how my organization operates and an EU-based organization presents a stark contrast in terms of opportunities available, rights affirmed and even resources accessible to the respective organizations. I felt disenchanted at times during the jobshadowing, a throbbing thought asking me: ‘So why are you here when most of the things you see and experience cannot be replicated or would be very difficult in a Philippine context?’ One can dig deeper and look for universal truths, parallelisms and powerful ideas that can be empowering rather than disempowering as I go back to the realities on the ground. With these in mind, I am going back with fresh eyes and a zealous heart as I immerse myself again to peace building and advocacy work back home.
The experience of learning from another organization from close-range actually helps reaffirm the values and principles that I have held dearly. First, that the development of the personal must be linked to a higher collective purpose. EU states have put great emphasis on education and a culture of learning and this must serve in purposively empowering people and communities. Secondly, that the pursuit of peace is a continuous struggle that does not end when a state is already free from armed conflicts. I have seen it firsthand in Spain where issues and arenas of struggles have evolved, but does not mean that structures of violence are dissipated in the process. Humanity must continually strive to help itself and it is upon its members’ contributions, sacrifices and ideas that it is continually shaped. Thirdly, that organizations can only be as powerful or as effective as its members and the collaborative environment with which it takes root. Empowering the youth therefore empowers not just the youth movement. The cultural and social contexts of our youth movements shape us as much as we strive to reform or even revolutionize them.
Creativity in Resource Mobilization
I do not think that the problems of the world as we know it now will dissipate into thin air in just a moment. We are faced with pressures mounting up from all sides and the crises that we have now will be a prominent feature within our generation, maybe even generations to come. Organizationally, funding as a problem is already a global feature. Most funding institutions have cut back on funding, or have diversified in the fields that resources are allocated to. Youth organizations from the Philippines to Spain grapple with the same question of how to effectively reach broader audiences with the ever-shrinking budget. Sustainability of efforts becomes our ‘trial by fire’. Given this reality, we need all the help we can get, not just in thinking outside the box but even rethinking and unthinking the box itself. Crowdsourcing or Crowdfunding may be something to look into vis-a-vis this issue.
Another problem with resource mobilization is the tendency to gasp for air only in between funding cycles and deadlines. Most EU youth organizations enjoy this steady stream of funding, which is shrinking or limited but concurrently regular and perennial. If we are not cautious, this can be detrimental to our approaches and frameworks of action for this can breed dependency and more alarmingly, becoming mere ‘fund chasers’ or ‘proposal writing dead beats’ having paid attention to the greatest of details but foregoing the bigger, beautiful picture of why we are doing these in the first place. It is a difficult balancing act of ensuring personal and organizational survival at a time where our problems are converging and shrinking global spaces.
Funding guidelines keep our work compartmentalized when the solutions to the problems we face need to be holistic. As an example, youth peace organizations working in direct peace efforts in areas with armed conflicts may opt to apply for a funding opportunity for climate change or human trafficking. While these can be situations of structural violence, the essential roles of the organization may be sidetracked to take these issues into consideration; if only to gain some funding at the very least.
Catalysts for Unity and Peace
I have seen how wildly enchanting football is for Barcelona. In the Philippines, we need catalysts for unity and peace. We must define and create social constructs that define our diversity but at the same time enables us to see that we are one in peace. This idea is something that I still have to ponder and discuss with groups: What are ideas or phenomena that can bind the Philippine citizens, be they Moros, Indigenous Peoples or Christians? One needs to understand that the nation-building process in the country is still in its kindergarten state. These may be superficial constructs but can initially provide an anchor for the elusive Philippine identity and the arguable definition of a Philippine national identity.
Moral Imagination that our initiatives are Linked
Equally important in the jobshadowing project, is appreciating the different modest and grand youth initiatives that attempt to combat structures of violence. It may not be that apparent at times, and may be difficult to fence in a defined boundary but understanding the linkages of the global to the local, the political to the socio-cultural helps us see the intricacies of our peace building work. I am surprised that most people still do not see the peace framework as a holistic way of dreaming a society beyond war itself. The peacebuilding framework provides us with a peg for our rights-based approaches as well as our social justice ideals from the most basic and personal to the developmental and collective.
Humanizing our Work Culture Detrivializes Peace
Oftentimes, peacebuilding work is trivialized as the hippy movement’s anti-war call. Peace is seen as something for the naive and/or the egotistical, that it is just being creative without creating something new. Peace outcomes are difficult to measure. Metrics for peace projects are more abstract and its added values to a society or a person are more fluid, especially when viewed from the outside of the peace movements. Simultaneously, from within peace advocate circles peace building work can be stressful and highly technical. The learning curve is steep and at the same time not easily appreciated nor understood by the broader constituencies. When talking about the peace processes in the Philippines one can have the tendency of either being too trivial: presenting creative posters, essays of youth about peace, peace day celebrations, even hugs for peace—or deadly technical: discussing the different mechanisms of a ceasefire mechanisms, the dizzying map of peace process stakeholders from the local to the international, the controversial provision of a draft proposal, the historic precedence of the armed conflict, etc. Penultimately, peacebuilding in the context of internal armed conflicts must be felt by the people affected by the violence. It is the grassroots communities, the human rights victims, the mothers and the children that were robbed of their past and future that must benefit from everything. It is by humanizing our work that can detrivialize peace. It is in putting a human face to the tragedy or the triumph that matters. In fact, for the overworked and underpaid peace workers, it is also in finding the humanized connections—the laughters, frustrations, disenchantment and rediscoveries that are shared—that will matter if we are to work for peace in the long haul.
As Albert Einstein once said, “The problems that we face cannot be solved by the same minds that created them.”We are faced with tasks so daunting that the challenges cannot even be defined as a single phenomenon, but apparently if there is an assuring aspect of the realities that we face; it is that these are also opportunities for change.