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3rd Annual Global Peace Workshop in Turkey

Tyra Turgut. Tyra is a second year student studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Criminology.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

As I write this, I feel nothing but happiness and pride in having attended the 3rd Annual Global Peace Workshop, as a representative of the Global Leadership Program, Macquarie University and of the youth in Australia.

This joint project of Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations with Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Turkey hosted 89 delegates from over 46 countries interested in issues related to internet activism, transitional justice, local/global identity shifts and valuing young people’s contributions to peace-building and social justice.

The program lasted for 5 days that felt too short (but were definitely sweet!). Delegates attended workshops, prepared group presentations, visited the most mesmerizing beaches, cities, restaurants and sights within the Mugla region, appeared on Turkish television, formed friendships and made valuable personal and professional networks with one another. Although none of us knew each other prior to the program, we all rejoiced in the one common goal: peace.

During my application, I had the choice of attending one of four workshops (Justice After Conflict, Citizen 2.0, Going Local and Mobilisation). As a Criminology student, I felt that the ‘Justice After Conflict’ workshop was most suitable and I am so glad that I chose it. The workshop focused on the way that peace can be promoted and achieved in communities and individuals after they have experienced conflict. The underlying theme was whether the notions of “remember and change” or “forgive and forget” should be exercised. We studied valuable case studies on the ways that peace has been achieved in the past, and the ways that youth can promote it in today’s society. Particularly, we looked at a case in Cambodia and watched a documentary titled ‘Survivor’ – the story of Chum Mey, one of the seven survivors out of sixteen thousand killed in the Tuol Sleng prison. This was significant because it explores how a survivor has made peace with his past by having the opportunity to have his story be told, remembered and acknowledged – “remember and change”.

One of the most amazing aspects of the program was that within the workshops, there was thought-provoking discussion, experiences were being shared, contributions were being made at an intellectual and academic level – yet as soon as we all came together for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the environment was filled with laughter, friendly conversation and a true representation of how peace can be achieved among different people from all around the world. Mind you, this breakfast/lunch and dinner was no ordinary one – it was filled with all the magical flavours of Turkish cuisine; served graciously by restaurants handpicked by Mugla Sitki Kocman University.

As a group we traveled to Marmaris to explore the freshest fish and chips, went to Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan to see the Sea Turtle Research Centre in which dozens of turtles have been saved and treated, explored Mugla city, where we made a particular restaurant very happy as 90 somewhat-tourists spent the night ordering nargileh, food and creatively discussing ways to promote peace; and on the final day, we enjoyed a beautiful boat trip to Akyaka Ocean where we danced, sung, swam and took many many group selfies with the selfie sticks that we all inevitably invested in.

Being part of this program definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that we as young people have in promoting peace within the world. We very fortunately have access to internet activism and are full of much more potential than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. As soon as we realise that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere, the sooner we will begin to understand that we have the responsibility to be peacemakers, regardless of our age and regardless of our situation. That is one of the most important things that I will be taking away from this workshop and hopefully carrying with me for the remainder of my life.

As part of the workshop, I participated in a group presentation which included photos of different delegates holding up a sign with #LET’S STOP (hate/discrimination/conflict etc.) or #LET’S BRING (love/peace/closure etc.) – all written in our own languages. As a young advocate of peace I challenge you to post a photo on any of your social media pages of you doing the same! Peace!

I found this experience through the GLP and am claiming it towards my Experiential Credit. It’s particularly relevant to global leadership in that the workshops are designed to equip delegates with the leadership skills necessary to promote peace across the globe.

Note: Thank you to Mugla Sitki Kocman University for being such a welcoming institution, I personally valued every minute of the experience as it truly did benefit me in more than one way. I definitely recommend anyone interested to apply for 2016, I know I will! #GPW2015

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