Wednesday, March 22, 2017
In 2017 the third Caux Scholars class graduated from the program in India. They have written letters back to the Caux Scholars community. They describe what they took away from the program and how they are applying what they learned in their lives now. We share their letters with you.
 
Nidhi ShendurnikarDr. Nidhi Shendurnikar, (CSP-AP 2016) was the coordinator our program this past winter. She writes:
 
On the 19th of December, 2015 when I undertook a 16 hours tumultuous and not so memorable bus journey from Ahmedabad to Panchgani, I had not the slightest idea that I would, over the next three weeks, be weaving memories for a lifetime. I had hesitantly applied to the Caux Scholars Program (CSP) at Asia Plateau (AP) upon recommendation by a friend and a week before the program, I wasn't even certain if I would be able to make it. Nevertheless, I did and never ever regretted my decision. A fresh PhD graduate at the time I attended CSP-AP, I was looking for new and practical perspectives on peace building and conflict resolution, having examined the same for a doctoral degree in Political Science. I was one among the fourteen participants from ten different countries across the world who undertook this journey of personal transformation through reflective learning, story sharing and inter-cultural exchange rooted in empathy, confidence, trust and grassroots experience.
 
It was through CSP-AP that I experience different cultural realities all under the same roof. How else would I have known how it is to survive in the ongoing conflict in Burundi, how it feels to experience an identity crisis in one's own country and what kind of struggles one has to endure when one is a woman from a conflict prone region? I realized I also knew so little about my own country which is reeling under several conflicts. This and so much more; an acknowledgement of the struggles that individuals have to face and the value of spending some time with oneself is what CSP gifted to me. Exposure to IofC's four absolute standards and the opportunity to engage in 'quiet time' was so meaningful that it left me wanting for more. Added to this was the fact that we were placed in a natural, serene, calm and quiet campus which allowed us to distance ourselves from the 'noise' in our lives. The most special part of the program for me was the bonding that we were able to forge for those 21 days and now for the rest of our lives. Our dinner time conversations, playing games together, singing and dancing sessions, a football match, visit to the mountain top and simply knocking on each other's doors to be able to wake up for the early morning sessions are memories that I hold close to my heart.
 
CSP helped me engage critically with my own self by questioning the prejudices that I had internalized over the years. My CSP-AP friends who smile with hope even in the most adverse of circumstances are an inspiration and I returned from CSP-AP being more grateful for and appreciative of what I have. I have learnt to look at the world from the eyes of others. While learning conflict theories and acquiring conceptual clarity is indeed important, what is valuable is when you learn about the conflict directly from the one who has experienced it. This provides a human touch to the understanding of conflict and facilitates empathy towards a variety of opinions.
 
At present, I work independently as a writer and researcher in India, even as I continue to search for better career opportunities all across the world. In 2016 too, CSP-AP continued to be a part of my life since I volunteered to coordinate the program. It too turned out to be an amazing experience since the challenges we faced and the responsibilities we had being on the organizing end were different than those encountered while I was a scholar.
 
This Caux journey is just the beginning for a group of motivated people from different parts of the world, connected through shared beliefs in peace, justice and non-violence. We may fall short of resolving conflicts that we face in our communities, in our countries, but we have committed ourselves to peace nevertheless. It is not going to be an easy path but we can smile just because we know that there is a community of like-minded people whom we can look up to for support and that is the Caux and the IofC community.
 
 
Simona TorotcoiI am Simona Torotcoi from Romania. I have known IofC Switzerland since 2010. First, I participated in a seminar called Peace Circle. That event changed my life since for the first time a racist statement made me realize the role I have to change prejudices against Roma in the Romanian society (read more about it here). Next summer, together with other Romanian youth, I participated in a conference, called Learning to live in a multicultural world. Later on, I was an intern in the Swiss center, then a Creators of Peace facilitator (read here more about our experience of bringing Roma, Romanian and Hungarian ethnics together). All these experiences helped me to rediscover myself, rediscover my potential and empower me to do more for our society, our community.
 
Coming from a minority ethnic group from Romania, I came across the struggles and every-day discrimination we, the Roma people face. Not only were we victims of slavery and genocide in the past, but also in today's Europe, Roma people are victims of forced evictions, female sterilization, hate crimes and hate-speech, school segregation, institutional discrimination and racism, and many as such. My desire to participate in CSP-AP has been triggered by the possibility of acquiring knowledge into notions of peacebuilding in ethnically divided societies, justice and conflict solving. First and foremost, I was seeking to change personally and know myself better, rediscover my potential, get the necessary skills and explore what leadership is about, how to build trust across differences. Further, I wanted to explore how to build a supportive community, build local capacity both Roma and non-Roma in order to create together cohesive communities without stereotypes, prejudices and injustices. I consider I have a moral and social responsibility to build bridges and make our community more inclusive. The preference for India has been triggered by two main reasons. The first one was the theme of the program and the hands-on experience in the field of peace building, the other reason was more personal and it relates with India itself. The Romani language which the Roma people speak, is one of the only historical proves that we have Indian ancestors. Personally, making it to CSP was another step in building and strengthening my Roma identity.
 
In India, it was a solid academic course, with a complex approach. We had a range of great facilitators and trainers such as Patrick McNamara, Florina Xavier, Ashok Xavier or Sri Prakash. They all came with their wide academic and practical experiences in peace building, justice or sustainable development. We talked about identity, inner governance, about understanding yourself and understanding the others, about conflict (how we define it, what sustains conflict, how we analyze conflicts and their effects), justice (different types and indigenous practices), trauma healing, sustainable development (we even had two field trips in two communities and saw how this works in practice), non-violence, etc. What I realized was that it is not about the (quantity) of information one receives, but it is about the people and their experiences, about their stories, and how they succeeded to overcome conflict and be peacebuilders in their lives and in their communities. I found this very valuable!
 
The first thing that impressed me was the very group: 21 students from 16 countries-from New Zealand, to the Philippines, Afghanistan, Lebanon, US, Rwanda, etc. I have met some of them before, and later on we found out how many things connected us: somebody knew someone I knew, somebody was in a similar program I have been before. Almost all of them dealt with different types of conflicts, or human rights issues in their daily work, in the very different contexts of their countries. The ability to share knowledge and experience to work with each other was probably one of the most valuable aspects of this course. Besides this, through the "conflict where I come from" presentations we were all supposed to do, I got to know about the struggles in their countries in their communities. My presentation was about the inter-ethnic conflicts and Romania- between Roma, Romanians, Hungarians. This started right after the fall of the communism (between 1990-1993, 15 interethnic conflicts occurred between Romanian Roma and Hungarians) in interethnic communities, and the phenomenon occurs frequently even today. Since I came back from CSP-AP in January, at least 3 such conflicts happened.
 
Another aspect that struck with me was to learn about a tool called "Participatory rural/rapid appraisal". This is a tool that peacemakers use as means to try to understand communities, and help the communities to understand themselves. PRA is basically the idea that local problems and issues should have local solutions, or that reform must happen from the community. It emphasized the fact that is important to understand and remember that communities themselves are the bearers of knowledge and experience and therefore they are the ones who know best what are the best solutions/strategies/approaches to deal with their problems/issues/struggles. The person who is doing the PRA (with the community) is just a facilitator, therefore it is up to the locals to assess their needs and propose viable solutions. This made me think a lot about what we Roma do, what our NGO does and how we act in certain situations: we are able to come up with projects, with solutions without even consulting the target group we envision.
 
I learned a lot and got inspired from the people around (alumni, staff from the Asia-Plateau Center, interns, participants from other conferences, our coordinators) and from the games we played, but most importantly I learned a lot from the nature: I realized it is a great source of inspiration, a guru which is always around us! I started to more respect nature: I am more aware of the products I consume, I am paying attention to the natural resources around (water, electricity, gas), I care more about environmental issues...
 
I look forward to returning to CSP-AP one day. Until then, this summer, I will be going back to Caux for the conference Addressing Europe Unfinished Business. Now a bigger family is waiting for me there, my IofC family. 
 
Vijayendra KadalabalMy name is Vijayendra Kadalabal and I am from India. Since June 2015, I am working with Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) which is a delivery arm of Tata Steel CSR in India as an Execute in Livelihoods. Apart from my engagement with the tribal farmers, I work with the children and youth in the tribal belt trying to learn from the indigenous communities apart from working with them. Before joining TSRDS, I did my Masters in Social Work (specializing in Community Organisation and Development Practices) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. I also have a Masters in Financial Economics from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.
 
Coming from the State of Karnataka, born and brought up in the IT city of Bangalore, my engagement in the tribal dominated states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh in the last 3 years was life changing experiences. But the transition from academic life to work life in one of the most challenging states of India (considering the socio-economic-political scenarios) had not been without conflicts, both as an individual within myself and as a development professional with the sector. It had not been easy living between communities, knowing that there were micro-mezzo-macro level of factors playing a role in their lives and how much little control I, as an individual, had to influence these factors and contribute to their lives.
 
Thus when I entered the CSP-AP program, I was in a lot of dilemma about myself, my work and what role I as an individual had in this world. Though my expectations were not very clear from the program, I was sure that being part of a diverse group of individuals from different conflict affected parts of the world and learning through their lived experiences, it would be a one of its kind opportunity for me. Two days into the program, and my belief was re-affirmed. I knew these 21 days were going to play a major role in shaping me as an individual.
 
Before leaving the campus of Asia Plateau, I sat down in my room wondering what I had learned in these three weeks that made me feel so satisfied of being part of it. And I was shocked at what I noted down in my diary. Being part of the 'global family'; learning about approaches to analyse conflict from professionals who have field experience more than my age; listening to the stories of 'Conflict Where I come From'; passionately debating about the different approaches to 'justice' around the world; understanding the role of 'trauma healing' in the lives of communities; analyzing how conflicts need to be transformed and not just managed; sessions on how 'non-violence' can be strategized; why self-care was important for a professional development (no one had spoken about this to me earlier), I had noted down learning's almost equivalent to a lifetime.
 
What impressed me most about the program was the blend of theoretical and experiential learning which provided a platform for such a diverse group of students to bond, engage, share and learn from each other apart from learning together. The serene beauty of the Asia Plateau was the toppings on the dish. It gave an ambiance to reflect about what we learn. The simulations and role plays made us think like the characters adding the qualitative aspect to the tools that we had learned and were trying to apply.
 
I made a re-entry into my work very different from what I had left as. I am more evolved, confident, equipped, and return with the realization of the 'power of story-telling', if only we paid enough attention to the 'art of listening'. Some programs leave you for wanting more and this was one such program that I was fortunate to be part of. This testimonial cannot end without sharing the best thing that I 'earned' in the three weeks - the friendship of these wonderful individuals who have added value more than anything to my life.
 
 
Caroline Nganchia TsedepnouI am Caroline Nganchia Tsedepnou, from Cameroon, and I hold a Master's degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, obtained at the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon (IRIC). I have been an active member of the Moral Re-Armament / Initiatives of Change team since 2006, and in 2013, I become a Peace Facilitator of Creators of Peace, which is also a program of Initiatives of Change. Right now I am building a project with focus on environmental protection in the neighborhoods of my country, so that a healthy peace can prevail.  I am also looking for a full time job which can assist me with this project. I was thrilled to say the least on being selected to participate in the CSP-AP 2016/2017, from which I present my motivations, my satisfactions and my resolutions on wonderful program.
 
Before coming to India, I was attending a conference at Caux, Switzerland, in 2015, where I met Mr. Kiran Gandhi who spoke to me about the program. He said that it would be a great opportunity for me to participate in it and learn about peaceful conflict resolutions. The idea itself made me want to strengthen my capacities in my work in order to be more active in the team of IofC Cameroon, with Creators of Peace, and to play a more integral role in advocating communities living together despite our differences. So in 2016, I submitted my application under the patronage of Dr. Omnia Marzouk and Mr. Adalbert Otou. I was pleased when I got to know that I was accepted into the program in India.
 
Speaking of my satisfactions, they are numerous. They went above and beyond my expectations. During my time at the CSP-AP, we received lessons on: peacebuilding, conflict resolution, trauma healing and theoretical therapy, sustainable community development, non-violence communication, Spirit of creativity, the spirit of the team and many others. Facilitators were very available for interactions, the group of students was multicultural and from all parts of the world. My English has improved since CSP giving me confidence of a new kind. I was very happy to present my "Conflict Where I Came From", experience the moments of silence, exchange life stories which allowed me to better orient myself with the experiences of others. Love, purity, honesty, and unselfishness were experienced daily. I returned to my country being more assurance of myself with knowledge about peaceful resolutions.
 
About my resolutions, after CSP-AP, they are also numerous and all priorities for me.
  • I must always remain at peace with myself and others.
  • I will remain active in the Initiative of Change; I will take advantage of this beginning I received at CSP-AP during the peace circle that I will facilitate as part of Women Peacemakers in order to be always on the ground of the consolidation of peace in the world.
  • I will set up my project on the protection of the environment in the neighborhoods of my country in order to promote the sustainable development of communities so that I can act locally for a global goal.
  • I will remain available at every call to build lasting peace in this changing world.
     
If all goes well, I will be in Caux - Switzerland 2017, from 23 to July for Towards an Inclusive Peace (TIP). I am motivated to register and attend various conferences on peacebuilding. Since my return from CSP - AP 2016-17, I am empowered to promote peace in this world. I end my remarks with sincere gratitude to all who have worked for the success and progress of CSP - AP 2016-17. 
 
 
Nalanda TambeI am Nalanda Tambe from Gujarat, India. I am currently managing Corporate Communications Department for a manufacturing based corporate house. My major work has remained in the advocacy for gender issues in society, and I have always loved to practice my own life principles and ideologies my way. While writing my book 'Mediatized Realities of Crime Against Women: The Case of Delhi Gang Rape' in 2014, I sensed that women actually would have not needed to fight for their rights, if the society would have accepted them as they are. Because of my gender advocacy, many people felt or maybe still feel that I am a staunch feminist, who only stands by women. Tired of convincing them about my Gender-based work and not only women-based advocacy, somewhere in between I found CSP-AP, which was such a platform that accepted not only me but each and every one present over there, as they are and in their true skin. The love and warmth that I got over there, is simply commendable and unforgettable.
 
The conflict that I was dealing with, which was with my own self, was resolved at a place far to my home, amidst the nature. Sometime you don't know what you actually need and that exactly happened with me. I simply needed people around me who were like-minded, some quite time for me and to experience inner peace. Conflict Where I Come From, was one such exercise that made me go through a journey that amazed me at different points in time. It thrilled and saddened me as well.
 
I learned a lot at CSP-AP, right from small things like sharing the responsibilities where we stay, to the different ways of peace building and things that were not related to the field of my work. Introduction to the program, the topics under it, its vision and facilitators, everything to the core, surprised me at first. Few things that really were going in my mind were that I truly got a good opportunity to learn something good; will be able to gain the knowledge from across the borders and will have some friendships across the borders and VERY HAPPY TO SHARE THAT I TRULY GAINED IT!
 
 
Shivaang SinhaMy name is Shivaang Sinha and I am from India. Currently I am pursuing a course in Alternate Dispute Resolution from Indian Law Institute I did my graduation in economics from Ramjas College, University of Delhi. While pursuing my graduation I worked as an intern with various NGOs. In 2013, I worked with an NGO named Salam Balaak Trust on the issue of 'Rescue of Railway Children'. Railway Children, UK, funded the Project with the objective of providing protection to un-accompanied children moving on Railways and residing in the Railway premises of New Delhi railway station. I was a part of the rescue team which rescued children who were found at the railway platforms who were either lost or had run away from their homes. Simultaneously, I also worked for Childline India, which is a child help line for missing and /or trafficked children in India and is being covered under Integrated Child Protection Scheme of Government of India. I gained the experience of tracking children who contacted ChildLine through the phone number 1098. In 2015, I worked in the field of micro finance and Self Help Group (SHGs) for the organization Prayas Juvenile Aid Center.
 
My three weeks at Caux Scholars Program-Asia Plateau was really inspirational. I learned many things in those three weeks packed with series of innovative lectures, learning activities and so much fun. Going back to all my notes and memories, I find three things that changed the way I looked at the society and myself. I learned about many new concepts but would like to highlight about concepts like sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, transitional justice and trauma healing.  These topics were relatively new for me and offered plenty of learning experience. The activities involving participatory rural appraisal was also very informative and gave a whole new way to understand the social structure of the rural Indian society.  We also learned many things about ourselves through 'quiet time' and other methods like yoga and meditation.
 
I also learned something new about myself. I discovered that I really want to connect with nature and work for its preservation. The best thing that happened to me was meeting with so many different scholars from all around the world. The wealth of knowledge and experience I gained from them is something I will always cherish.
 
I am currently in the middle of completing my course in Alternate Dispute Resolution, which has equipped me with some knowledge of how to solve commercial disputes without going into litigation and use of domestic and international laws on arbitration. Now I am planning to pursue my Masters in International Relations and also work in the field of environment conservation. I am trying to learn more about social entrepreneurship and ways to link it with environment protection. I was really inspired by knowing about how people are finding ways to protect the environment and the resources through sustainable development and I really wish to be a part of it.
 
 
Ali AtallahI'm Ali Atallah from Lebanon. I hold two Master Degrees in Business Administration with one focusing on Research in Management. My first job was HR and Administrative Assistant in an International NGO which focuses on the response to the Syrian refugees' crisis in my country. After that, I was transferred to the supply chain department where I discovered that I needed to learn more about the programmatic side and the field work of the humanitarian and developmental sector. This led to my promotion to the economic recovery and development program as its administrative officer.
 
Before CSP-AP, my knowledge about peace building, conflict resolution, trauma healing, and theatre therapy was minimal.  Since I wanted to gain more knowledge in the sector I worked in, I was always looking for training and fellowships to broaden my perspectives. I came across CSP when I was at Caux, Switzerland, participating in the Leadership Development Program. The program attracted me because of its well planned and organized curriculum, the opportunity it gave to the scholars to learn from each other, the chance to participate in field visits, as well as gain hands on experiences in the humanitarian work.
 
I was not accepted to CSP the first time I applied, but after my second trial, I made it through. This time, it wasn't at Caux, but in Asia Plateau - India. At CSP-AP, I was learning and doing things that I never expected to achieve. CSP-AP armed me with lots of knowledge about a lot of conflicts that are in the world and which don't gain spotlights in the media. Transitional justice was very interesting topic for me, and it gave me a sense of hope because I found it synonyms to the positive reinforcement. I learned a lot about the Indian culture and the internal issues that Indians face regarding the caste system and religions. Quiet time, an important part of IofC's philosophy, was a great start of every day's program because it gave us the opportunity to reflect upon ourselves and think before we act. Last but not least, the program introduced me to conflicts presented by my fellow scholars during a presentation called "conflict where I come from."
 
After one month of my return back to Lebanon, I wrote an article on my blog about my CSP-AP experience titled:  "The Third Mission - From Caux to Asia Plateau." I wanted to spread the word and let people know what exactly I was doing there. I received a lot of compliments, and a lot of my friends were very curious to know the details of the program. The goal of writing and sharing my experience was also to show people who work or are interested in peace building and conflict resolution that there is a chance for them to learn from professionals and academics that have been in the field for many years, and have mastered balancing theory with practice.
 
Another motive for applying to the program was seeking a career change. During all my previous jobs, administration was the biggest part of it. I wanted to do things that I believed are more meaningful. Upon my return to Lebanon, I received an opportunity from Atlas Corps to be assigned as fellow with Heartland Alliance in the United States as an International Human Resources Officer for a year. At first I resisted this offer because I wanted to seek a job that is focused on development. After taking some quiet time to reflect on this opportunity, I realized that it is for my greater benefit to accept the offer since I already have the knowledge, skills and abilities to work in this domain. I hope that after this year I'll gain the capabilities that I aspire to acquire and to be able to work in the humanitarian sector in the fields that I excel the most, in different regions of the world, and to help humanitarian and aid workers find purpose for their work in a world full of hunger, wars, and disasters.
 
 
Olga CheltsovaI am Olga Cheltsova from Russia, an undergraduate student of International Relations. I am learning about a big picture of how countries interact and why conflicts happen. But I believe that a conflict itself begins from hidden causes and that small-scale social development is more possible for me than being involved in politics. I am aspiring to work with the children in vulnerable communities.
 
At CSP-AP, learning about the hidden conflicts in the conflict regions like Afghanistan, gave me a much deeper understanding of the needs that the people have today. I saw hopeful possibilities in alleviating the lives of people rather than trying to fight the powerful, deeply rooted problems, such as corruption, unjust governance, or gender discrimination. One of the influential topics I learned at CSP-AP is trauma healing for victims that had gone through conflicts. I also saw that internal and personal conflicts like the ones that the person can have within him/herself, can be identified in the childhood.
 

"Don't sing because you have a good voice.
Sing because you have a song to sing.
The bird sings a song because it has a song to sing"

After our activities, discussions, and profound story-telling sessions, I felt a huge boost in self-confidence, self-esteem, and realized how capable a person can be in a certain area he or she is passionate about. Working with vulnerable children and orphans before, I realized that it is possible for me to make small changes in the lives of people, especially at a fragile stage of life.  After CSP-AP, I realized how much influence a child can receive from a social worker or a teacher. A positive influence can give a child an opportunity for a meaningful life. 
 
At CSP-AP, I understood the importance of peace building, non violence, human rights, and community development. How to understand peoples' needs better? We learned about the importance of negotiation, communication, story-telling, and trust building and listening to the other person, as well as a particular community. There were discussions about different ways to stand up against a conflict in a peaceful manner: non-violent protests, fasting, raising awareness about the conflict on an international level, sending volunteers or providing relief funding. I learned about conflict transformation theory that includes justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. 
 
Something that fascinates me in the CSP-AP program is the diverse team, which became one CSP family, sharing sincere motivation and experience. I learned about other people's experiences and ambitions. My fellow scholars are inspiring women who have been filming street harassment in the streets, writing books, pursuing masters/PhD degrees, freelancing, working with IDPs in conflict zones, and ambitious men have been working with refugees, in the area of rural development, and engineering. I found truly strong and trusted connections with my CSP family that helps me to find motivation and new ideas. 
 
It is after Caux Scholars Program in Asia Plateau, that I understood what should be my next step in making a positive change today. I am searching for internships in communities that need help with the children. Orphanage work and teaching are what I am particularly passionate about. My goal is to create my own center for children where they can learn about health, nutrition, self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as to ensure they have access to education. 
 
 
Tariro Mutyavaviri I am Tariro Mutyavaviri from Zimbabwe with a passion for people and peacebuilding. I am a graduate of Bachelor of Social Science in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Sociology. I also have a diploma in Project Monitoring and Evaluation. Currently I volunteer at Initiatives of Change Zimbabwe and Creative Youth Initiative Trust, a life skills and entrepreneur skills training organisation that mainly focuses on the vulnerable youth in Zimbabwe.
 
Three weeks at Caux Scholars Program -Asia Plateau (CSP-AP) can be described in one word "transforming."   During the first week, we were introduced to quiet time, a powerful tool that I believe everyone should use. In these early mornings, I found myself reflecting and listening to my inner voice and with this simple tool, my many questions were answered. The CSP-AP gave me the opportunity to see the world with a different eye through the stories shared by scholars and the facilitators. I realized there is so much power in sharing stories and  through sharing personal stories, peace becomes a possibility that transcends mere promises. Through this experience I also learned that, we are inherently interdependent, as a people, as a community, as a world.
 
The program gave me a better understanding of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation through the intense daily sessions. From concepts of conflict and peace, transitional justice, trauma healing, sustainable development, simulation, 'Conflict Where I Come From", village visits and many others, I can truly say that CSP-AP was more than an academic program, it was a spiritual and an emotional journey. 
 
After my experience at CSP-AP, I felt moved to dive deeper in issues of peacebuilding in my community through story-telling.  As I live in a country that has ongoing conflict, my hope and dream is to create an open space for people to share their stories as a form of healing, reconciliation, laughter and develop peace within.  As Dr. Ashok said "You don't need to be a singer to sing a song", I truly believe that one can make an impact in their communities no matter how small or big.
 
Lastly, I would like to thank the Silvia Zuber Fund for their generosity and granting me the opportunity to be part of this life-changing program. I am also grateful to have met twenty change makers from different parts of the world that are working tirelessly to ensure that there is peace in their countries. Many thanks to CSP-AP facilitators and Asia Plateau family, I leave you with this beautiful song "I think you are wonderful!"
 
 
Becca BarrowKia ora, I'm Becca Barrow from Wellington, New Zealand.  I currently work in injury prevention for the government, focussing on family violence, sexual violence, suicide and self-harm.  I'm also close to completing my Masters in Public Management, with my final research paper on "the development of strategies to prevent youth suicide in New Zealand".
 
New Zealand is beautiful.  It's known for stunning vistas and dramatic scenery, for adventure tourism and Lord of the Rings.  Comparatively, it's a safe place to work, study and raise a family.  Yet last year 579 people committed suicide, and many more were hospitalized for suicide attempts.  We have high rates of intimate partner violence, with one in three women expected to experience physical and/or sexual abuse from their partner in their lifetime.  There's a family violence investigation by the police on average every five and a half minutes, and what's even scarier is we know only around a quarter of incidents are reported, so that number is likely to be much higher (statistics from the 'It's not OK' campaign).
 
I had some expectations of the Caux Scholars Program-Asia Platea (CSP-AP), particularly around the curriculum and ideas I could take back to my working life. In a sense, I regarded it as professional development. I entered the classroom on the first day cautiously optimistic. By the end of the three weeks my mind was blown and all those carefully constructed expectations completely shattered. It was what I'd hoped it would be and so much more.
 
Perhaps the most important learning for me was on taking care of myself, with a focus on mindfulness, self-awareness and self-reflection. This is particularly important in my area of work. A critical tenet of change is starting with yourself.  It's impossible to help others without first knowing yourself. This really challenged me to looking at my lifestyle and decision making, my personal biases and relationships.  I initially struggled with the reflections and taking time to stop.  I found it difficult to stop the inner dialogue in my head and just be. Prior to coming to AP, I wanted to become more relaxed and mindful. CSP-AP gave me the tools to do this, once I'd given myself a chance to accept them.
 
CSP-AP was an incredible, life-changing experience that catapulted me far outside of my comfort zone. I've made some lifelong friends and I'm certain I will utilise the skills and knowledge gained in my work, study and personal life.  I 
'm proud of my country, and optimistic we can prevent suicide in New Zealand.  I'm fortunate to be able to contribute to this through my work and study. I feel blessed I've had the opportunity to gain knowledge in trauma healing and conflict resolution through the Caux Scholars Program that will aid me in reaching this goal.
 
I feel very humbled and blessed to have been able to attend the Caux Scholars Program 2016/17 in Asia Plateau. The program was incredibly enriching and I've returned home with a renewed sense of motivation and enthusiasm.  I feel very grateful for IofC and IofC New Zealand for giving me the opportunity to attend CSP-AP 16/17.