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Now, since the first UWC Short Course “Acting for Peace” is coming to an end, I believe it is time to tell the story of how such a great project started. The seed was sown when Nicole Müller got a scholarship to attend UWC of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy. In 2012, during one of her project weeks, she brought a group of UWC students to her hometown Imst. In many ways, the visit left its traces in the village. One of them was a beautiful graffiti just around the corner of the artist’s, Gebhard Schatz’, house. He felt so inspired by the young international visitors that he started to investigate. Cooperation with Paul Müller, Nicole’s father, was the next step. The two of them were intrigued by the idea of starting an international educational project in Imst; the town which already is the cradle to another international movement that changed many children’s lives in a very positive way: the SOS children villages.
For the last two years, Paul Müller and Gebhard Schatz worked closely together. Led by their enthusiasm, they soon reached out to key persons – such as Dr. Franz Fischler and local politicians of the city of Imst – such as the Major Stefan Weirather – who promised to support the project. The two organisations, UWC Austria and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck (which would be crucial in the realisation of the project), were very fast taken on board. Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich, who had formerly worked with Gebhard Schatz, was fascinated by the idea of working with teenagers on his field of specialization – conflict transformation. UWC Austria’s president Augusta Campagne offered her expertise and UWC network to arrange the selection of participants and tutors, do a great part of the preparatory work, coordination and logistics. The local team of Gebhard, Nicole and Paul did a great job to prepare everything in Imst for the participants of the short course.
Their close contact with social, cultural and political organisations, as well as with the LandwirtschaftlicheLehranstalt – the school that would host the course – made the very diverse programme possible. It also facilitated that the participants would have many opportunities to interact with the citizens of the town. Last but not least, it was thanks to the organisers in Imst that the short course was cordially welcomed wherever they participants went.
Thank you for your initiative, your will and enthusiasm!
By: Inasa Bibić
The art of conflict work hence does not begin with an external intervention into the dysfunctional affairs of the parties, but with providing a safe frame for encounter, dialogue and mutual understanding.
Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich: academic coordinator of “Acting for Peace“, the holder of UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, an avid peace researcher, and “so much more.“ The person whose approaches to Peace Studies greatly contributed to the smooth flow of the last two weeks in Imst on an inter- and intrapersonal level.
Today, he shares some of his personal stories, thoughts on revolution, peace, balance, and what he calls the dance of life. A journey through decades, systems of peace work, international peace missions, peaces (pl.), elicitive conflict transformation – or in a nutshell: the life itself.
I would like to start by asking you about your work and career. You started your academic work in the 1980s in Central America. Can you tell me more about how this came about, why you went there, and how this whole experience influenced your later work?
Well, this could be a long story of course – it’s my life. It is difficult to give a clear answer to your question. Why Central America? Well, it was sexy at that time.
After the 1970s guerilla movements, the countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala became very famous. According to the general opinion of student movements across Europe, it was popular that these people were rebelling against “the bad dictator.” Therefore, all the other ones were considered “the good ones”. Of course, this was a very attractive concept. (more…)
And finally – last night was the moment we were all so eagerly waiting for this week! Under the guiding hand and facilitation of Armin Staffler, the participants of “Acting for Course” performed an interactive theatre piece that dealt with the topics of tradition, migration, abandonment, and repression.
The performance was structured as a dialogue between the actors and the audience – with Armin as the mediator between the two. As the idea for the structure of yesterday’s play was mostly based on the experiences participants had during the Community Interaction interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, the concept of the play was to develop a new dialogue out of the outcomes of the previous one. This allowed our audience to join the process of transformation through dialogue, thereby reflecting on cultural and social topics that are an part of everyday life – as in Imst, so everywhere else.
Many thanks to all those who came to support us last night, to Armin Staffler for his marvelous work – and to our participants, without whom none of this could have been realized!
Upon the arrival from the Native Spirit camp, our participants yesterday spent two three-hour-long sessions with Commander Rott – on the topic of Peace Support Operations.
Lieutenant Colonel Bernd Rott, our lecturer and Commander at the Lienz military camp, started by presenting the war situation in Afghanistan (as a case-study) – through a series of images and stories that were covered by different media channels in this region. His goal was to incite the participants to discover different realities and layers in the war zone by themselves – from who the major players in the war are, to different needs of the population there. What is the story that lies behind an image? (more…)
Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being. – Rosenberg
On Tuesday, August 5, Karin Michalek – the Extra-curricular Projects Coordinator and Representative of Alumni-Network at the Peace Studies program at the University of Innsbruck – held a workshop on the Methods of Conflict Transformation. The workshop was based on the elicitive conflict mapping approach, in which Michalek did her best (and quite successfully) to include all the participants and the tutors In a practical seminar of sharing, reflecting and getting to know each other on a deeper level.
I had a short talk with her after the session, curious to find out her impressions and thoughts about our group, peace(s) and whatever else the wind blows our way.
As the most pleasant Gesprächspartnerin (en. interlocutor), Karin told me she was particularly struck by the community feeling in our group. Other than her fascination with the fact that the participants are already getting along very well (after only 4 days of being together as a group) and connecting with each, our whole LLA abode seems to have been immersed in positive vibes – altogether speaking to the uniqueness and particularity of the “Acting for Peace” experience.
But what exactly is this “Acting for Peace” experience? (more…)