‘They tried to bury us, what they didn’t know is that we were seeds’
Twelve young adults (aged 20 – 26) from diverse cultural backgrounds from Ireland and Lebanon worked together in Beirut, Lebanon for one week from the 3rd to 10th of February. Together we explored the nature of conflict transformation in their own lives and developed a video based educational resource pack to be used in peer-training workshops in youth work settings.
To begin to explore the concept of conflict transformation, we explored inner conflict by unfolding the thought process of who I think I am, who I think others are and how others see me. This concept is related to the looking glass sociological approach of being both the producer and the product of our own identity. While uncovering this process it was also important to explore the concept of our own shadows and light and understanding that there are no shadows without light and that we don’t always recognise our own shadows or light or that of others and that our shadows can at times block our light and our inner power. We used the concept of a tree to explore how conflict often arises when needs are not being met. The roots represented the needs, the trunk represented the emotion and the branches the behaviours. When a person digs deeper through the emotions and the behaviours then can see what needs are not being met.
Following this process we asked the group to then decide on three messages of transformation. One message was for themselves, another for someone younger than them and the final one for community, society and those in power. The group used many creative methodologies, which included composing a song, which delivered these messages and can be used as a tool to support them and us to deliver transformation workshops. The Irish youth team will deliver the workshop to different groups in Ireland. Now that we are back in Ireland we will work together to develop this workshop and education resource. This educational resource will explore conflict transformation in the context of living and working in culturally and socially diverse communities especially where racism, political and civil unrest are destabilising community cohesion.
Our Lebanese partners – Al-Jana – are experts in using creative methodologies with young people in conflict. They are also keen to learn about youth work practice in Ireland. They have shared and learned with our team of youth work facilitators in Lebanon and are keen to engage with more youth work organisations when they come to Ireland in June. They will come to Ireland and together we will continue to share practise and shadow Irish youth work. We will also be hosting a conference where we will continue the dialogue of racism, political and civil unrest.