Posted by: tiffanytononi | February 2, 2010

Jordanian Youth Attend King’s Academy Peace Day; FoEME Deputy Director Offers Keynote Speech

On Saturday, January 30, FoEME’s Jordan office had the opportunity to participate in the second annual King’s Academy Peace Day in the Madaba-Manja region of Jordan. Peace Day began in 2009 as a way for young people to celebrate peace and conflict resolution around the world in honor of His Majesty King Abdullah’s birthday.

The day’s events began with registration and refreshments before moving to the lecture hall for the morning’s keynote speeches, one of which was given by the Deputy Director of FoEME’s Jordan office, Mr. Abdel Rahman Sultan.King's Academy Peace Day Event in Madaba, Jordan

Mr. Abdel’s presentation explored how a focus on transboundary environmental issues can cultivate the kinds of cross border cooperation necessary for lasting peace. He further elaborated by telling the students more about the projects FoEME administers across Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli borders.

The other keynote speech was given by Captain Dhia Al Azawi, a certified pilot, Chairman of the Iraqi Society for Sustainable Development, and the former Director of Agriculture and Aviation in the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture. Captain Dhia focused on the history and current situation in Iraq. He also suggested ways to mitigate conflict and help restore peace, such as mutual dialogue between stakeholders and learning from similar situations around the globe.

Intentionally a bilingual event, Captain Dhia presented in Arabic while Mr. Abdel spoke in English. After each speech, a King’s Academy student translated a summary of the speakers’ main points and additionally helped translate all questions and answers that followed.

At noon, all participants were split into Brazza groups, an important form of discussion where the opinions of everyone in the room, regardless of their gender, age, or status, are considered of equal value. These mixed groups of eight to ten people took time to discuss the issues raised by the keynote speeches with the help of a student facilitator. In honor of Peace Day, each group was named after a different historic defender of peace, including Nelson Mandela, Eli Wiesel, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Theresa.

Lunch was provided in the dining hall around 1:00pm and everyone sat with their Brazza groups in order to encourage social mixing. Massive cloud cover cut lunch a bit short and created a slight shift in the day’s schedule to ensure that the planting of the Peace Garden would not take place in the rain.

The space newly designated for the Peace Garden was a large square area on the King’s Academy campus that had never been landscaped. Students were assigned to different corners of the area to plant three olive trees, for a total of twelve. All of the students took turns helping to pack the soil around the roots, cheering as each new tree was planted. Eventually the Peace Garden will be landscaped and play a special role in all future Peace Day events.

The final event for the day included small workshops led by members of the King’s Academy faculty. Each workshop took a different form, often expressing the passion of the faculty member involved. Some workshops took a look at examples of peacemaking in difficult situations, as in South Africa in the mid-1990s, while others focused on interactive leadership games and activities. These workshops were an enjoyable, and in many cases energetic, way to end the day’s events.

As the students prepared to leave around 5:00pm, many expressed how much they had enjoyed taking this time to focus on issues of peace and conflict resolution and ideas for next year’s Peace Day were already being generated.

Nearly one hundred and thirty students and teachers from King’s Academy, American Baccalaureate School, Salt Secondary School for Boys, King Abdullah II School for Excellence, and Madaba Latin School attended the 2010 Peace Day events at King’s Academy. This year also saw the inclusion of students from Sheikh Hussein, reflecting the growing partnership between Sheik Hussein and King’s Academy through FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors project.

This post was written by FoEME intern Tiffany Tononi. Tiffany is based in FoEME’s Amman office. Photo Credit: Tiffany Tononi



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