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Increase Connectors: Create Peace
Category: Economy | By SDR, 15-Dec-2019 | Viewed 626  Comments 0 | Source Lorelei Higgins
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Lorelei Higgins

What is required to create greater peace?

Increase connectors. Decrease dividers. That is what is required to create greater peace. This approach, embodied so eloquently and fully by the words and work of Mam Inday Irene Santiago, reminds us of the simplicity of navigating the complexity of peacebuilding.

Actively creating peace means getting to know people in a way that the unjust distinction between an us and a them ceases to exist. It means becoming friends across false boundaries and borders, recognizing all that connects us as human beings instead of what divides us. As said by the Elders, "we all bleed red."

Building peace also means taking action by disrupting existing systems, individually and collectively, starting with where you are in a system. System changes seems difficult. Almost impossible. It requires changing the architecture, the language and the rules about how we engage. But, when a group of individuals take action around the world, together, at varying points, overhauling systems that support the high cost of violence, a changed preferred future begins to emerge.

Incredible programs like the Rotary Peace Fellowship are doing just this by fostering the development of a growing and connected cadre of dedicated peacebuilders working across the globe to create change.

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Lorelei Higgins

I had the opportunity to be selected as a Rotary Peace Fellow this year and to study at the Peace Centre in Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. In a class of 22 people from 14 different countries, we learned in the classroom and out in the field about each other and the current state realities of global peacebuilding initiatives. We witnessed peace in action as part of our field study to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the Philippines. We also felt firsthand the plight and indistinguishable optimism of the Shan people as they continue to live in Thailand, displaced, at the Thai-Myanmar border in the Koung Jor Temporary Shelter/Camp. From the professors that came from across the globe to teach us about their lived peacebuilding experiences, to the communities that we learned from in Thailand and the Philippines, we all came away with an even stronger sense of our shared humanity and an increased sense of efficacy. We actively increased connectors and decreased dividers every single moment of the Fellowship, while learning how to use the tools and theories related to peacebuilding in a very practical way.

In my current role as an Indigenous relations strategist with the City of Calgary, I have been able to apply all that I have learned as a Rotary Peace Fellow in a very immediate way. Reconciliation is about maintaining and establishing positive relationships and the Rotary Peace Fellowship has provided me with practical tools and a global network to support me as I work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada Calls to Action locally. One of the significant projects that I am working on is the establishment of the Calgary Indigenous Relations Office. At the core of its foundation is a peace-centric approach.

Since completing my Peace and Conflict Resolution certification at Chulalongkorn University, I have been serving as an Institute for Economics and Peace Ambassador. I have also recently been selected as a Rotary Peace Activator and we will begin our training in January 2020. Peace Activators will be available to facilitate peacebuilding efforts with Rotary and Rotary-affiliated organizations.

The incredible peacebuilding network that Rotary is coalescing is instrumental to the global peacebuilding efforts underway. I encourage people to apply for the Rotary Peace Fellowship and to connect with Rotary Peace Fellows as part of the work you are doing. Together we can change the systems that support violence and move into a global future of positive peace!

Keeping increasing those connectors and decreasing those dividers, building peace wherever you go.

All my relations!

Lorelei Higgins
2019 Rotary Peace Fellow
Cultural Mediator & Indigenous Relations Strategist

Do you want to learn more about my journey into SE Asia as a Rotary Peace Fellow? You can read my travel blog here: https://lorhiggins2.wixsite.com/inextricablyintercon

Lorelei Higgins


lorhiggins@gmail.com

Editor's note: Watch for Lorelei Higgins as one of the breakout session presenters at the Rotary World Peace Conference in Ontario, California on 17 & 18 January 2020. https://peaceconference2020.org/

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