European Consciousness Through Peace Actions, 5 - 12 August 2011, Baia Mare, Romania

August 24, 2011
Baia Mare Group Photo

Baia Mare, Romania was the site of an inspiring gathering for youth and spirituality working to build actions for peace in Europe. 25 youth aged between 10 and 35 years and 7 elders attended. They were coming from Romania, Hungary, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States of America from 6 to 12 August at the Petrusca Villa in Apa Nord to establish a community beyond barriers of nationality, ethnicity, culture, age, sex, religion or otherwise and open a dialogue about how we can put our spirituality to work for peace in our communities and spheres of action.

On 6 August we opened in deep communion with the world and with Japan when at 2 am local time a few brave souls witnessed in devotion, respect and commemoration of the devastating events of Hiroshima and now Fukushima at the sounding of the Peace Bell in Hiroshima. At the Baia Mare History Museum then Children for Children – Children for Peace organization, lead by Rodica Pop, the local Romanian organization, launched the project towards the local public and media and at the same time continued the commemoration of the Hiroshima Day. A flag ceremony brought out the message: May Peace Prevail on Earth and in all countries and regions mentioned. Essays were read by two adolescents who are taking part at a competition for Messages of Peace for Japan. A local actor shared a poem of Masahisa Goi. A tenor enchanted the audience with singing prayers and white doves where launched for peace and the joy of small children present. Paintings of deep emotion moved the audience as they were invited in one of the halls of the museum and were able to engage the artist in understanding her vision. On this beauty-filled note the participants enjoyed an evening with ethnic traditional singing and dancing and the ancient houses of the Village Museum as well as antique folkloric art within the Ethnographic Museum.

On Sunday, participants had the chance to attend in a typical Christian Orthodox Liturgy and were assisted with the translation of the Liturgy in English by a booklet.

The structured programme contained non-formal activities of getting to know each other, building trust, understanding the programme and the expectations of all as they envisioned to be ideal participants. Youth facilitators have been in charge at all times with the space and the flow and their openness to adjust and align was helpful to meet the needs of many within such diversity. Revealing was to observe the initial ideas towards what it means to be European and how that evolved until the end of the week when all were asked again to share their vision and changed perspectives on this matter. The basics of peace and conflict received centre attention as the week progressed and all were engaged in interactive dialogue as well as using stationary drama to depict, analyse and transform conflicts nonviolently. The situations sparked from the understanding of personal or social types of conflicts and how they can be shifted towards peaceful outcomes and conditions. Forgiveness and reconciliation received the focus within one of the mornings as we believe without these inner processes real and lasting peace cannot be achieved. Evenings took a personal colour as we shared in the circle and the chance to speak our hearts. All were welcomed and none who were not prepared were forced, rather embraced to choose the best for them. The end days of our time together was focused on discussions on youth participation in the issues that surround us and making a commitment to ourselves through a letter that would return to each of us in a month. A particular group was created to tackle the building of Romanian – Roma friendship and lay the foundation to the end of discrimination against the Roma in our hearts and minds. We received good feedback and suggestions that will help us grow other activities in the future.

We spent the last day sightseeing a few unique sites in the Northern region of Romania called Maramures such as the Merry Cemetery, Barsana monastery and the Barsana traditional doors and a 1600s old wooden church. Gratitude and appreciation to all was given even from the night before and as well continued throughout the day as the beautiful sites showed themselves to us all. In the singing ways of Maramures we ended the day. Parting was not easy and we have faith that at least some will see each other again.

Indeed, new projects arise and there can be opportunities for future gatherings in other parts of Europe. A manual will support trainers and facilitators to understand our processes.

Partnership: Children of the Earth, USA, Children for Children: Children of Peace Foundation, Romania, Magyarországért Európában Egyesület, Hungary, DML Bonn-Cooperation Circle within URI Deutschland e.V., Germany, Zentrum der Einheit Schweibenalp, Switzerland, URI UK -UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE UK, United Kingdom

The organizers wish to acknowledge the immense dedication and support of the Petrusca family and the co-funding of the Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission. Dr. Nina Meyerhof of Children of the Earth also made a great trip and commitment to support the gathering and indeed all the participants, youth and elders. Love and Gratitude to ALL. May Peace Prevail on Earth … and may it begin with me!

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