NARPI 2023 SUMMER PEACEBUILDING TRAINING SUCCESSFULLY HELD IN MONGOLIA
By Bilguun-Od Norov and Byambanaran Terbish
Seeking to promote peace in the region by creating space for peace education and building networks among peacebuilders in Northeast Asia and beyond, the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) has held its two-week long summer training every year in August since 2011, providing a selection of six different courses and a field trip.
This year NARPI 2023 summer peacebuilding training was held from August 9th to August 22nd at Khaadiin Tamga Resort in Gorkhi Terelj National Park, welcoming more than 60 participants from Mongolia, Japan, Korea, China, Canada, USA, Myanmar, Cambodia, Chile, and Taiwan. NARPI Steering Committee member and senior lecturer of the SIRPA Oyunsuren Damdinsuren hosted the training, and members of the hosting team included current students of SIRPA and SAS, Misheel Tugsbat, Byambanaran Terbish, Zolbayar Baatarkhuu, and Bilguun-Od Norov, as well as SIRPA alumni Zolzaya Nyamdorj as a co-facilitator, and Dariimaa Chinbat and Solongo Enkhbold working as team members. The local hosting team worked hand-in-hand with the admin team of NARPI, Jae Young Lee, Karen Spicher, and Jewel Hana Chung, to successfully hold the peacebuilding training.
In the first week of the training, participants attended courses such as Conflict and Peace Framework, Theory and Practice of Peace education, Peacebuilding and Climate Change: Facing Two Dragons, the second week courses included Optimizing Peacebuilding by Addressing Traumas in the Body, Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Conflict and Peacebuilding: An Arts-based Approach, Peacebuilding Praxis: Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. The courses were conducted and facilitated by experienced international professors and facilitators. Additionally, some professionals of the field visited the training to share their stories and experience, which made the learning process more meaningful. For example, in the Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Conflict and Peacebuilding course, staff of the LGBT Center Dorjjantsan (Jack) Ganbaatar spoke on the perception of LGBT rights in Mongolia, Chairman of Blue Banner NGO and former Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations, Dr. Enkhsaikhan Jargalsaikhan shared his diplomatic experiences regarding Mongolia’s nuclear weapon free status, and associate professor of the SIRPA, Dr. Battogtokh Javzandolgor shared her take on Russia-Ukraine war during the plenary sessions.
A highlight of NARPI is that it organizes field trips to historically and culturally significant places of the host country with the aim of promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding among the participants. During this year’s field trip, they explored the culture and nomadic lifestyle of Mongolia by visiting the Zaisan Monument, the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, Gandan Monastery, the National History Museum, and a nomadic family in Terelj. Participants also visited the Mongolian Environmental Civil Council, Ongi River Movement NGO and Magic Land-2 child development center.
The Mennonite Central Committee made strong contributions to the advancement of peace studies by granting full scholarship to many participants including NUM students and alumni Misheel, Byambanaran, Zolbayar, Bilguun-Od, Dariimaa, and Solongo.
We asked some participants of NARPI about their experience, Yu-Hsien from Taiwan had this to say, “The NARPI training has holistically reshaped my approach to peacebuilding. … The concept of a peace
culture, grounded in universal well-being and empathy, has seamlessly woven into my daily actions. The significance of choosing understanding, empathy, and open dialogue over hostility has been firmly reinforced. … While the practical application of … methods may pose challenges, this journey marks a pivotal stride towards a more peaceful world. The seeds planted during this training hold the potential to yield a harmonious future.”
Mitsuki from Japan: “The experience in NARPI gave me future vision as a peacebuilder as well as knowledge and practical skills of peacebuilding. … While the contents of the courses were a bit challenging for me, the beautiful nature of Mongolia made me relaxed and broadened my horizons.”
Chema from Spain: “Coming to Mongolia to do the course was one of the highlights of this edition of NARPI. It was my first time in the country, and I was very curious about it. I love it there. Spending so much time in Terelj National Park, a place of incredible beauty, has been amazing. Taking part in the courses during the day and doing horse riding or enjoying nature in the evening has been an absolute pleasure. I think NARPI will have difficulty topping this experience in future editions! … One of the things I have enjoyed the most about NARPI is the ability to spend time and talk with the local volunteer group. All the young people I have met from Mongolia have surprised me with their extremely high education and knowledge. Also, it has been a pleasure to learn about Mongolia thanks to them.”
Chunkai from China: “Attending NARPI has been an amazing and life-transforming experience for me! I was able to strengthen my connections with peacebuilders in Northeast Asia and around the world. I have learnt so much about the interconnectedness among climate change, the usage of nuclear energy, and peacebuilding – how we underestimate the risks and insecurity of developing nuclear energy and our over-consuming behaviors. … I look forward to deepening my peacebuilding journey after NARPI in my own work and with people I met here!”
Solongo from Mongolia: “This training not only imparted valuable insights but also introduced me to interesting training techniques, such as the “circle process” for sharing stories. I have since incorporated this method and technique into my professional team work, implementing its efficacy in creating a more empathetic work environment. NARPI also inspired me to explore peacebuilding further. Hearing stories from NARPI participants who faced challenges but never gave up left a lasting impression. I’m now more motivated to get involved in peacebuilding initiatives in the future.”
Zolzaya from Mongolia (co-facilitator): “For my course context was about nomadic pastoralism, Climate change and global warming effect in Mongolia, and Climate change influenced conflicts in Mongolia. On each topic, participants were able to share their own country cases during workshops or discussions. Participants made few minutes of presentations covering about their country situation, public action, and solution which has given an opportunity to exchange good experiences from each other. If you are finding to participate into creative and fun activity regarding the peacebuilding, NARPI would be a great match.”
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