PEACE Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) marked its success in the conduct of its Culture of Peace (COP) orientation seminars for high school student leaders after reaching five out of the targeted six seminar series in Zamboanga City.
The COP training is an advocacy PAZ aimed at raising awareness among the youth especially student leaders about prevailing conflict situations in society and strengthen the commitment of the student leaders to be involved in peace-building activities in schools, local communities and within their families.
The first seminar started last March at Sangali National High School. This was followed by Maria Clara Lorenzo Lobregat National High School, where the COP strengthened student leaders elected to the student body to advocate for the general welfare of the studentry as well.
“In the culture of peace, there is a call that all conflicts will not end in violence. To have peace, we have to be understanding and tolerant towards the differences between groups of people” noted Marvi Erfe, outgoing president of MCLLNHS-Supreme Student Government.
In July, Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School and Southcom National High School received an opportunity to let the schools’ student leaders experience COP. The theme in each case was “A Day of Reflection and Dialogue”. Student leaders led in gathering of 80 other student leaders for the trainings.
Todate, 114 student leaders have participated in the workshop series whose topics include Ideal Community, Critical Threats to Peace, Peace and Conflict, Six Paths to Peace and Commitment Setting.
“It strengthened the involvement of student leaders in clearly emphasizing one’s role and function through integrating peace approaches in the framework of the organization” stated PAZ Youth Coordinator Aldrin B. Abdurahim. He further said that “being an established leader who caters to 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”.
In the trainings, the student Leaders were engaged in various activities, workshops and lively games. Understanding peace and conflict helps determine right relationships in all aspects of life, said Abdurahim.
Sr. Emma I. Delgado, OP, PAZ Executive Secretary, said the journey towards a culture of peace for young leaders always starts with one’s self. She added during her sessions that “critical threats to peace should imbibe a spirit of letting go. Allowing petals of peace to be nurtured and cultured, peace will be felt by all of us”. She observed that PAZ together with the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) and Youth Solidarity for Peace (YSP) are exerting efforts to build peace among all sectors not only in the city but also throughout Mindanao, and even reaching out to sectors in the Asia-Pacific region.
With COP, some schools have reciprocated through the conduct of “peace sessions” that are integrated in their leadership trainings for regular students, with the trained student leaders serving as facilitators.
Sr. Delgado noted that young people are the most potent force in influencing and inspiring other youths to share the vision of peace among professionals in various chosen fields. Amidst the society’s dilemma of survival and peaceful coexistence, student leaders expressed deep commitments to be agents and catalysts of peace through personal transformation and solidarity, it was observed.