TWENTY-THREE active and hopeful peace advocates coming from the Supreme Student Government (SSG) pool of officers of Southcom National High Schools actively participated in the Culture of Peace Orientation to Student Leaders: “A Day of Reflection and Dialogue” last July 17 at the school’s campus.
The culture of peace (COP) orientation is a peace advocacy program of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) aimed at raising awareness among the youth, especially student leaders, over the present conflict situation in the society and deepen the commitment of student leaders to be involved in peace-related activities in schools, local communities and within their family.
PAZ Youth Coordinator Aldrin B. Abdurahim pepped up the involvement of student leaders by clearly emphasizing their role and function through integrating peace approaches in the framework of the organization. He said that “being an established leader who caters the needs of fellow studentry as well as the betterment of the institution, everyone needs the culture of peace in a journey towards success and achievement for the future”.
The student leaders actively involved themselves in various activities, workshops and lively games which spiced inputs given by the staff of PAZ and some volunteers of the Youth Solidarity for Peace. They were challenged in being established leaders and chosen representatives of the student body by the many things that they have to learn.
“They should be more concerned of the welfare of the students. Peace would mainly start from them as they are the front liners and advocates of the student body” Abdurahim added.
Rosiller Castillo narrated his experience in undergoing a series of visual arts workshops. He said “it is my interest to help other young people that made me influence others to appreciate this culture of peace approach”.
Meanwhile, Brenda Mae Baluco, SSG President declared that “it is indeed an opportunity to undergo culture of peace since it is one way for them to reach out to fellow students to be enlightened and to cooperate to us in our projects.”
The SSG under the supervision of its adviser Maria Raquel Ramos will re-echo the ideas of the Culture of Peace to fellow students through a conduct of sessions in their 2-day Leadership Training. First for the year, Ramos expressed continued support for the programs of PAZ and Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) in heightening the advocacy efforts t\in more schools and communities. “Southcom National High School is so much grateful for the opportunity PAZ had given to student leaders, she said.”
During the culminating activity, Dr. Salihmatal Lagbas, secondary school principal, challenged young peace advocates towards influencing and motivating fellow young people to do peace advocacy programs. He said. “It is now a time in our lives to integrate culture of peace as a way of life. Peace is love and peace is us!”
PAZ will continue to deepen the commitment of students and youth leaders towards peace as it continues the “peace caravan”, targeting Zamboanga City High (Main) and Zamboanga National High School (West) next.
Meanwile, some 37 youth leaders from Barangay Sta. Catalina participated in he Culture of Peace Orientation to Youth Leaders: A Day of Reflection and Dialogue last July 27 at the Educational Development Center, Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology, Fort Pilar, this city.
This is an initial step taken by the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Council of Sta. Catalina in collaboration with PAZ in preparation for their Peace Learning Caravan project later this year. The orientation trained a pool of youth leaders who will help facilitate the series of peace workshops to be conducted in the various zones and community sectors of the barangays.
“This is a good starting point for the real efforts of doing our peace advocacy in our barangay” disclosed Barangay Sta. Catalina chairman Manuel Banua in an initial meeting conducted together with IRSMP prior to the orientation proper. “We are taking a step to contribute something significant for the development of the culture of peace in our community especially the youth sector” added SK Chairman Ainee Lim.
PAZ Youth Coordinator Aldrin Abdurahim said “these youth leaders were oriented with PAZ’s journey towards peace. Hoping they learn from the COP to help them be effective catalysts in their communities”. “We are also looking forward for the participants to build a passion in this very special cause” he stressed.
SK Chairman Ainee Lim stressed that “It is really hard to convene young people to attend the Culture of Peace. However, because of their interest in peace building, everyone contributed their significant role as youth leader to the success of the activity”.
The event was participated by SK Chairman Ainee Lim and Officials and her officials, PAZ staff headed by Executive Secretary Sr. Emma I. Delgado, OP, IRSMP’s Mr. Jaafar Kimpa, and youth volunteers from the Youth Solidarity for Peace (YSP) headed by their Youth Coordinator Aldrin Abdurahim.
Sr. Emma I. Delgado, OP challenged youth leaders over their crucial role in the community. She said “young people are the potent force in building right relationships for peace building. Everyone should play their role especially for the lasting peace not only in the community but to others.”
The orientation started with a symbolic manifestation of expectations through an opening ritual which highlighted the true essence of being a peace advocate. It was jumpstarted with the usual Adjective Name which gave everyone the opportunity to clearly evaluate every personality amidst the differences and commonalities. Allowing everyone to share, YSP Volunteers facilitated the sharing of experiences in their plenary discussions. It was followed by their envisioning of their ideal community. What triggered during their presentations where dreams and hopes for the community strengthened through relationships of Muslim and Youth living harmoniously. Others include peaceful coexistence of constituents with no pressures from environmental problems like garbage’s, road destructions as well as floods. Nevertheless, they all believe that culture of peace will be integrated in their minds and heart through their cooperation and spirit of volunteerism. A thorough discussion was synthesized by Christian Olasiman, Resource Speaker and YSP Volunteer.
In achieving greater glory of peace, six paths to peace were presented by Executive Secretary Sr. Emma I. Delgado, OP with the emphasis that there are really ways on eliminating threats to peace. The youth are the strength and in doing so, can imbibe the spirit of peaceful coexistence among faith groups and youth organizations.
At the end, SK Youth as well as other youth organizations in the community expressed commitment to be agents of peace and will work for the betterment of the community.
Culture of Peace Orientation to Youth Leaders is a program of PAZ for local government’s enhancement and capability training in conflict transformation.