Last Sunday (10th September 2017), most IFP students across both campuses attended the Singapore Peace Conference at the Dover campus.We were only a few weeks into activity and we already attending our first conference. I felt nervous since I did not know what to expect, but it was reassuring to know that it was most people’s first time too and they were equally clueless.
The four areas of focus were media, identity, violence, and discrimination. The theme and session that intrigued me the most was violence. The facilitators did an activity where we all had a chance to look at violence from a perspective of the victim, the “bullies”, as well as the bystander.
I started off as a victim, admittedly, there was some frustration since it was not easy to get my partner to the other side. But in the second round I had a chance to be a “bully”. Inside, there was this sort of unexplainable grudge that gave me the tendency to be more annoying of an obstacle than the first group of “bully”. In our mini reflection, I mentioned this feeling, and how if we were to continue this exercise, more grudge would build up and the obstacles would get harsher. This simple exercise allowed me to understand violence on a deeper level, how easily it can become a vicious cycle.
When we joined back as a big group, the conversation went stalemate, I wanted to mention my point but I was too nervous. I was afraid that maybe my point was “wrong” and I would get judged by others. However, one of the facilitators liked my point earlier and wanted me to share it to the larger group. Her support gave me the reassurance that my point was “valid”, it also gave me the confidence to speak up without being afraid of judgement. The reaction I got from mentioning my analysis of the vicious cycle got positive reaction and sparked some debate which made our discussion alive again.
This session has also opened my eyes to the term “violence“. In the beginning I remember how in our word association brainstorm, most people thought of physical pain or damage when violence comes to mind. Through further discussions, we realised that violence is broader and hits closer to home that we think. It also made me realise that there is much more we can do rather than just being a bystander, we can take action, big or small, for ourselves as well as others.
In retrospect, I should not have been as nervous as I was. I should have had more confidence to speak up and voice my opinions especially in a community as warm and welcoming as IFP. It also felt rewarding to see people’s response to see how people’s positive reaction to my comment. This moment for me was perhaps my turning point of the conference. From then on, I had a little more confidence in sharing my opinions to others, making my experience at the conference more meaningful.