8th IFP Conference May 2013 – Focus on Mindanao

By Magan Savant

LI PO CHUN UNITED WORLD COLLEGE OF HONG KONG

8TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND RESOLUTION

27-31 MAY 2013

An experience of lifetime for the participants and with a lot of energy for their future initiatives in Mindanao, the 5th Conference focussed on Mindanao successfully concluded at our college campus. It was also our 8th Annual Conference with the first 3 focussed on Kashmir.

Our Initiative for Peace (IFP) group believes that Peace is absolutely necessary for well-being of Humanity. It comes in various forms such as economic, cultural, social, political, environmental etc. and all of them being interrelated. Our activities are based on bringing about those relationships in daily life both at local and international level.

The conference will be remembered both by participants and facilitators for various reasons. One of it is that the revised structure of sessions with an input from facilitators about post conference initiatives gave a good time for the participants to plan their initiatives well. It resulted in participants making some well thought and designed plans for peace activities within their school and social communities. All they have to do now is work on them. Another reason is that all this was achieved through several hardships that the IFP group experienced. One of them was finance related. At one point we were not sure about whether the conference would go through due to financial constraints. Thanks to several well-wishers that it was made possible. A big credit goes to our College Board member Ms Theresa Woo. As an UWC alumnus, Theresa understands the importance of such projects for UWC students providing learning experience towards continuing this kind of work and propagating our ideals that are identified closely with Human Rights. She convinced her friend Ms Mandy Tang for a generous support. Ms. Mandy Tang is a Philanthropist and manages well to give time for Tung Wah Group of Hospitals as a Director besides having a successful career in Hong Kong. Without her word of help, IFP would not have ventured into conducting this conference.  It was inspiring to have both of them at the opening of conference. Thanks also to Mr Andy Kwok, President, Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West for his support and hosting IFP at their weekly meeting to present our work.

Ms Clara Tze, another UWC alumnus was quite instrumental in getting us in touch with several local schools for our ‘Day Camps’ this year. One interesting developmental aspect of this activity is that our college being able to establish relationships with local schools and organizations working particularly with ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. ‘Day Camps’ were started with a reason to form that contact as well as bring the ‘Conflict Management and Resolution’ concepts to student community within Hong Kong. Through the existence of IFP over past 7 years, we have managed about 40 Day Camps and plan to continue with the same with a good support from those schools.

Of course, it goes without saying about the encouragement that Mr. Arnett Edwards, our Principal provides and identifies with this cause. Also, not to ever forget the support that the college office and several colleagues provide directly and indirectly throughout out the year.

The participants at the conference are well selected through an application process that began in October 2012. We focus on young adults from Philippines who are College students and mostly peer with our facilitators. The participants were quite a cohesive group this year and worked well among each other. It is this availability that will be very useful for them in working together towards peace in Mindanao. We also created a face book group ‘IFPers In Action’ that brings all participants of past conferences linking together and sets a stage for an active collaboration for future.

Our facilitators are student members of IFP who worked very hard to make the ideal of working towards peace closer to reality. At the conference, they aimed at providing valuable instructions about techniques of facilitation to the participants. They train through the year understanding various aspects of facilitations besides logistics required for organizing day camps as well as the annual conference. A big challenge for the facilitators is transferring facilitation skills and concepts of peace related to our everyday life in a short span of 5 days to the participants condensing the best of about a year getting trained for them. It is a great experience in line with the education that UWC promises in its mission statement. It aspires to be a force to reckon with to bring about the desired changes in the world for the better of everyone.

For the quality of work and dedication that my IFP facilitators demonstrated and the promise that the participants have dreamed of, I am looking forward to another exciting year for IFP at the college.

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