IfP Peace Conference builds unity, acceptance and open-mindedness
By Ilina Navani, Grade 11, HS Campus Journalism Activity, East Campus
For most people, Sunday is a day to relax and unwind before walking into a new week of school. However, for 80 High School students from both Dover and East Campus, Sunday, 9 September, meant the first day of embarking on their journey to become peacebuilders. These Grade 11 students spent the day attending a peace conference organised by the Grade 12s in Initiative for Peace, through which they gained a deeper understanding of the basic concept of peace, and the impact it has in today’s world.
Initiative for Peace (IFP) is a year-long programme proffered to students of Grade 11, which focuses on facilitating peace within conflict, by developing individuals who can contribute to building a positive and peaceful world. Its mission statement - “Youth connecting youth to build sustainable peace” - is put into effect when UWCSEA students plan conferences in conflict zones, and lead discussions on issues faced on both a local and global scale.
In their very first week of the 4-month training that lay ahead of them, these students spent the day learning more about their identity and beliefs. Since it was the first time East IfP-ers would meet their Dover counterparts, the day began with some ice-breaker sessions, which continued into the understanding of relationship and community building. They underwent a number of sessions, through which they tackled real-life problems faced by not only their school community, but also by the local Singaporean community as well as countries all over the world. They explored new perspectives on reasons for conflict and segregation, and their possible solutions. By taking up relevant cases in society, they were able to explore and understand topics from different viewpoints, hence enhancing their knowledge on what is needed to achieve peace.
As one East IfP-er said, “The sessions served as a good indicator as to what to expect in the course of the upcoming year, and we were able to gain a deeper insight into the purpose of this programme. It was also a nice opportunity to meet students from Dover, make new friends, and debate over which campus is the better one.”
As this memorable and experiential day came to an end, the words ‘unity’, ‘acceptance’ and ‘open-mindedness’ could be heard echoing in the room.