I went to the International Institute on Peace Education’s Mexico 2022 Conference in Mexico City!
by Greg Foisie – Change-Links volunteer
Many people express a desire for peace. However, few of us think deeply about what true peace actually is, why it is that we are so peaceless as a society and world, and what is required for real peace to flourish amongst ourselves. The International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) helps answer these questions.
When nominating the IIPE for the 2005 UNESCO Peace Education Prize, the International Peace Bureau described it as “probably the most effective agent for the introduction of peace education to more educators than any other single non-governmental agency.”
The IIPE is hosted in a different country every other summer. The Institute facilitates exchanges of theory and practical experiences in teaching peace education. It’s web site (https://www.i-i-p-e.org) states the IIPE “provides a space for pedagogical experimentation; cooperative, deep inquiry into shared issues; and advancing theoretical, practical and pedagogical applications.” This conference was a week-long introduction to peace initiatives from across the globe.
IIPE Mexico 2022 explored the theme “Weaving Together Intercultural Peacelearning,” providing a collective inquiry into intercultural peacelearning and community building. This year’s IIPE provided 50 participants with a full week’s residential experience for informal, nonformal, and formal peace educators in Mexico City. Every participant was a presenter, and we ranged in age from 18 to 80. I had a great time and made many new friends in Mexico City.
Begun at Teachers College Columbia University in 1982, the IIPE has been hosted in 18 different countries to date. These events bring together educators, academics, professional workers, and activists in the field of peace education from around the world to “exchange knowledge and experiences and learn with and from each other.”
Originally scheduled to take place in July 2021, the Mexico IIPE was rescheduled for July 24-31, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we shared knowledge and experiences, learning from each other as a residentially-based learning community. Objectives of each particular institute specifically consider needs and transformational concerns of the region and communities of its co-sponsoring host partner(s).
In its call for applicants, “the IIPE invites formal and non-formal educators, students, practitioners, academics, researchers and activists from the fields of peacebuilding, human rights education, international/intercultural/global/global citizenship education, education for sustainable development, anti-racist education, decolonizing education, conflict transformation, community development, the arts, health and faith-based professions, and others with interest in peace education— with all levels of experience – to apply to join the weeklong co-learning community.”
The IIPE’s web page outlines the organization’s three principle objectives:
1) To aid in the development of the substance of peace education through exploration of new and challenging themes to contribute to the on-going development of the field.
2) To build strategic international institutional alliances among NGOs, universities and agencies involved in peace education thereby increasing the benefits of shared expertise on substance and practice as well as advancing educational reform initiatives.
3) To encourage regional cooperation toward the maximization of resources, cooperation in pedagogical and substantive developments and increasing regional perspectives on the global issues that comprise the content of peace education. This is accomplished through significant involvement of regional organizations and participants with an annual goal of 50% of the participants from the region.
IIPE Mexico was co-organized by the IIPE Secretariat in partnership with Colectivo Tomate and a network of former IIPE participants and numerous hosts from across Mexico and the Americas. Colectivo Tomate is a nonprofit organization seeking “transformation through dialogue, participation, and art,” strengthening collective trust, fostering trust, participation, collaboration and self-management to transform environments, and eliciting “conflict transformation, trans-rational understandings of many peaces, and nonviolent communication” to improve quality of life.
IIPE Mexico 2022 was held at Casa Xitla, a retreat center in the heart of Mexico City within the gated compounds of a former convent. Casa Xitla is Mexico’s only non-profit center dedicated to peace, human rights, the arts, spirituality, and environmental sustainability. Our Mexican hosts and the many conference staff including IIPE volunteer members did an excellent job of welcoming all participants and providing for our every need during our week-long residence.
The conference was fully bilingual using professional during plenaries, and then volunteer translators from the ranks of attendees within the many individual workshops. Focuses throughout the week were interconnectivity, interdependence and solidarity; the plurality of forms of knowledge balancing thinking-feeling and cognitive-emotional “sentipensar” processes; and informal and nonformal peace education, with a special emphasis on the arts as educational resources.
There were many presentations throughout the week. The one that had the most impact upon me was our day-long visit away from Casa Xitla, where our entire conference was hosted in a beautiful forest reserve of the indigenous San Mateo Tlaltenango , The reserve is called Rancho de los Laureles . It is located in the very heart of Mexico City.
We were honored to view numerous ceremonies and presentations by representatives of the Ejido de San Mateo Tlaltenango. Here we were entertained and dined by local communities and artists, complete with dancing butles, muleteers, weavers, community members, ejidatarios, and teachers of the Tomas Moro. We had plenaries, poster sessions, reflections, and closing ceremonies. It was a very full and enjoyable day.
Based on my week’s stay in Mexico, I heartily recommend IIPE attendance for anyone interested in peace and peace education. Consider applying to attend an up-and-coming IIPE by connecting with https://www.i-i-p-e.org or https://www.facebook.com/IIPEpeaceed/ . It was well worth my time and effort to attend the IIPE Mexico 2022 conference, and I hope to be accepted to attend another one in the future.