LO6: What did I learn about this issue? Why is it a significant issue?
With IFP now on hold as a result of the “circuit breaker” announced, as well as the fact that the IFP conferences themselves will not be carried through, it seems to be a good time to pause and reflect on what new issues I was actually introduced to in IFP, and how these issues actually were significant. Having been registered for the Timor Leste conference, much of our preparation time before the actual conference planning was devoted to addressing extremely large questions regarding peace-building; questions that would force us to actually think about the impact we were having. We discussed questions such as “What is violence?” in the context of real-world instances of violence (e.g the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and also applied a combination of theoretical knowledge (such as our study of Galtung’s pyramid of violence, that affirms that there are three types of violence; direct, cultural, and structural) to supplement our practical understanding of conflict in the world. This meant that, despite not actually being able to learn about the conflict in Timor Leste in IFP, I was still able to gain a profound and applicable perspective on the nature, manifestations of, and real-life impact of violence in the world, a skill that would help me not only in IFP (or, I suppose, would have helped me more if the conferences had not been called off), but also in general, in helping me gain a better understanding about the presence and manifestations of violence in the world. Overall, despite the lack of a conference, I feel that I can still walk away from IFP knowing that I have gained an invaluable and multi-faceted new perspective on the world; one that I can apply to a variety of other activities or subjects, and can be a useful future asset.
LO3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.
Initiative for Peace has, I find, been a great choice as an activity thus far in the year. Not only does it fit snugly into my week’s schedule, running from 4:30-6:00 on Tuesday (I do Boxing from 3:00-4:30), but it is also a great chance to learn a different set of skills and also meet, and interact with, many people I would not normally see. The best things about IFP are not only the wide community of people who attend the activity, allowing me to get to know many people I do not share classes with, but also the set of conflict-resolution skills that we learn as part of the activity. I have never given much thought to the specific skills required to facilitate the construction of a lasting sense of peace or the practical skills required to organise an event such as a conference, so it has been a very constructive learning experience for me to acquire these practical skills, despite the fact that it may have been, to begin with, somewhat strange to actually sit down and learn these skills. The ability to foster conversation and facilitate an understanding is one that I have never had to consciously learn, and, hence, has rendered this season of IFP a very eventful one. I look forwards to continuing the year in IFP, this despite the fact that, due to the coronavirus, our Timor Leste and Mae Sot conferences have been cancelled, which was a significant obstacle to my CAS experience, as I was very much looking forwards to attending.
I have chosen Initiative For Peace this year as an activity, both for it counting as “Creative” (I normally would have auditioned for the drama production, but I didn’t feel particularly inspired by this year’s one. Seeing as I head heard some very good things about IFP from some family friends, I felt that it was something that was worth incorporating into my year) and for it being an experience unlike any other that I had attempted before. Whilst I was not entirely foreign to the idea of hosting conferences to raise political understanding in especially hostile parts of the world (my prior experience with MUN in Middle School had helped me grasp the organisational concepts behind a conference, and my interest in Global Politics, as both a school subject and a discipline, means I keep up-to-date on many such points of contention in the modern world), I loved the premise of being an active member in hosting the conference; in managing the various activities, researching what concepts like “conflict”, “peace”, and “tolerance” really are, and generally entering an environment I was not accustomed to before. Thus far, I am very content with my IFP experience, and definitely do not regret signing up for it. It fits perfectly well into my schedule (on Tuesday I do Boxing/Muay Thai from 3:00-4:30 and then IFP from 4:30-6:00, meaning I am able to do both within a single school day), and I am also surprised (happily) at the large number of people who have signed up for it; with what I believe is well over 60 people in my grade being part of it, it also constitutes a valuable opportunity to view, discuss, and gain an understanding of new viewpoints and perspectives, which I would not have otherwise been privy to. I am very much looking forward for the year of IFP to come.
The Jahs and Kays Simulation we did in IFP last week was, I felt, very interesting in how it not only pertained to real-life cases of the conflicts that can arise between developed and developing nations (even when they both have good intentions), but also how it showed the skills that we needed to have to effectively mediate and prevent arguments. Firstly, it was interesting to see the unique perspectives of Jahs and Kays. I was a Kay, meaning my country was highly technologically advanced and developed (something of a pseudo-utopia), and we thought we were in the right in trying to bring our prosperity and technology to the Jahs. Though I initially saw the Jahs as close-minded and content with their own issues (especially since we were told that the Jahs suffered from several plights such as unemployment, disease, lack of education, and so on), when I learnt of their perspective (them freeing themselves from the control of other countries, and being fiercely proud of their independence), I began to understand them better. Additionally, the activity taught me the importance of good, clear communication. Though our group of Kays initially went in with a very straightforward approach, we realised that the Jahs found it condescending, and eventually switched to a more constructive style of discussion. Though the talks ended up yielding little, it was still a very interesting experience.