PAZ Holds First Interschool COP and VPAW

The Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) in collaboration with the Youth Solidarity for Peace (YSP), Colores de PAZ and partner schools who were recipients of a series of Culture of Peace (COP) orientations and Visual Peace Arts Workshops (VPAW), namely the Sangali National High School, Southcom National High School, Maria Clara Lorenzo Lobregat National High School, Zamboanga City High School (Main) and Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, celebrated the success of a two-day live-in Interschool COP and VPAW 2008 trainers training.

The activity was held last September 20-21 at Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School Campus in line with the celebration of the International Day of Peace. Mini-camp in set-up, 157 student leaders, visual artists and youth leaders from the high schools, YSP and Colores de PAZ talked about issues affecting Mindanao as they crafted plans for the community in preparation for the Mindanao-wide celebration of the Week of Peace.

The gathering was designed to foster inter-cultural appreciation and understanding of one another’s cultures and faith..

PAZ executive secretary Sr. Emma I. Delgado, OP shared the vision of hope among the participants and administrators present. She mentioned that “amidst the present conflict situation our neighboring island (referring to Basilan), we still share the vision of hope for peace”.

Meanwhile, PAZ community organizer and youth coordinator Aldrin B. Abdurahim shared his dream for peaceful coexistence. He said “all dreams must be actualized through the gathering of inspirations from various sources and let this be the challenge in responding to the realms of our daily life”.

Other activities during the period was the solidarity observance of “iftar”, breaking of the fast ceremony as the Muslim participants and facilitators observe fasting on the Holy Month of Ramadhan. First time experiences amongst the participants yielded better appreciation and understanding of the culture of Islam.

Hj. Saad T’Laa of the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) stressed that Fasting is not just a sacrifice but an obligation of all Muslims in the world. He mentioned “the breaking of the fast is an opportunity for all to experience solidarity among the religions of the world. We hope that everyone will treasure this experience”.

A number of peace advocates in the city declared their commitment to a greater peace involvement, to spread the culture of peace not just among friends but more among their family. They attended various sessions and workshops with invited resource persons from the youth sector. Almin G. Anudin, student leader and a peace advocate, challenged participants to respond to the call of setting new missions. On the other hand, Christine Jean Cadano and Christianna Privado, Zamboanga’s local visual artists shared some inspirations from the paints and brushes that lifted their hearts and push them to continuously inspire other people with their own paintings.

Reflections were integrated through the solidarity meal and iftar that heightened the celebration. Moreover, a solidarity night was held that showcased various “Kuwentong Kapayapaan’ from the COP clusters and terrific presentations from the visual arts including featured Hawak-Kamay choreography.

International Peace Day, celebrated on September 21, was oberved through lively workshops featuring the MANDALA MAKING and a mini-peace café of stations from various aspects-music, dance, arts and crafts, literary and prayer. After which, plans for the schools were presented that included bulletin boards for information dissemination of peace related activities as well as re-echoing of peace experiences to the studentry through trainings, COP and peace camp later this year.

Each recipient school’s students went home carrying the experiences gathered, stories that were shared including meritorious tokens – photo gallery, peace buttons and the Mandala poster. The smiles of the young people would always be an inspiration to move forward in really responding the conflicts not only of Mindanao but of the whole world. Everyone had been agents of peace and with that, the interschool COP and VPAW was deemed a success.

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