Newsletter - Season's Greetings 2013

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Ethics Education for Children

Enhancing children's innate ability to make positive contributions

Special Issue - December 2013  

Dear friends,

As the year ends, in the Gregorian calendar, it is time to look back to the stories we have built together during this year, the stories we have created, we have been part of, and those that have shaped our lives.  This has been a year of many changes for Arigatou International and particularly for the Ethics Education Initiative.  We celebrated our 10th anniversary, took stock of the many achievements accomplished and started planning for a new exciting decade.  This was a year of stories, of listening to the voices of those who have worked together with us in promoting ethics education, of those who are in the field implementing the Learning to Live Together programme, of those children and youth who have been part of it and are now role models for others.  We started to create new stories by working with partners in new countries, initiating new work with families and small children, engaging youth in online discussions and by using technology to support learning to live together.  A new Interfaith Council was formed, new members joined our team in Geneva and new strategies are taking shape and form. 

Stories are being written, not just by us, but by the many people who are part of the work we do around the world. They are intertwined, they speak to each other, they speak to us and inspire us to work together and to transform ourselves and the world around us.  Stories are being told... In the midst of so much violence that affect our children and youth, stories of positive transformation, of reconciliation, forgiveness, collective responsibility and mutual understanding and respect can help us challenge violence, despair and hatred.  They can help us build bridges of trust, find possibilities and co-create new realities together.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a blessed holiday season and a New Year filled with joy, harmony and spiritual strength.  May this new year bring to all of us many transformative and inspiring stories that can help us create fair, inclusive, safe and open communities for our children and young people. 
In peace,

Maria Lucia Uribe
Director Arigatou International - Geneva
Inside this issue
Interfaith Council Meeting
The new Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children met in Geneva on 12-13 December to revisit the vision of the Interfaith Council, and discuss critical issues and initiatives related to children, interfaith and Intercultural learning, spirituality, and ethics education. At the end of the meeting the Interfaith Council identified strategic areas of work for ethics education for the next years.

Among the recommendations to strengthen our work are: further develop the training programs on ethics education and the competencies of facilitators to work on interreligious aspects; prioritize work in conflict affected areas and contexts affected by poverty; and strengthen family systems.

The main recommendation from the Interfaith Council members was to develop strategic partnerships to mainstream ethics education in other areas such as Global Citizenship and peacebuilding.  It was recommended to develop complementary resources for the Learning to Live Together manual to present concrete examples of reconciliation and conflict prevention.  Additionally it was suggested to relate the ethics education approach to existing academic theories and frameworks that can expand the work of the ethics education initiative. 

Special thanks goes to each Interfaith Council member for their contributions, insights and many ideas to move the ethics education initiative forward during the coming years.

The next Interfaith Council meeting will take place in June 2014. 
Story: Journey towards Reconciliation
By José Fernando López Jiménez, Communications Intern Arigatou International Geneva

Inspired by the Learning to Live Together Programme and its ethics education approach to build bridges of trust and reconcilitation among people of different cultures, religions and walks of life, José Fernando writes a story, of his own authorship, to describe the power of personal transformation and working together to transform the world.

Three friends, Yinde, Katxa and Taqdir - meaning, respectively: “empathy” in Fula, “grabbed by the Earth” in Aymara and “respect” in Arabic, take on a journey of self-discovery and reconciliation to bring about change to the peoples of their communities and build a society of greater justice for all. 

Thank you, Jose, for writing this story for us!

Stories transform lives, stories change the world!

Youth in Action
The Ethics Education Initiative of Arigatou International opened a discussion forum on "Youth and Ethics"

The Ethics Education Initiative of Arigatou International launched in October an online discussion forum titled “Youth and Ethics”. This forum aims to provide a platform for the youth of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) to express and exchange their ideas on ethics and its relation to topics they are concerned about.

Three articles are currently available on our website, “Ethics and development” by Nicolas Meslaoui, “Growing up in the middle of conflict and the role of ethics education for children and youth” by Bissan Salman, and "Ethics and Human Rights" by Ornella Barros.

The first looks into the different understandings of ‘development’ practices and emphasizes the role of civil society, particularly of youth, in challenging the status quo and becoming aware of their active role as actors of development.  Nicolas invites participants to start taking daily actions that can have a positive effect on development.

The second article by Bissan offers an inside view of the state of the Arab minority in Israel, she invites the reader to reflect about their own behaviours towards others, the divisions and labels that violent conflicts and systems put in our minds, and invites us to think of ways to develop inclusive and equal opportunities for all children living in areas affected by violent conflicts. 

The conclusive piece of the year is the contribution of Ornella written for the celebration of the Human Rights Day, held on the 10th of December.  Ornella invites us to think of our rights and the violation of others' rights.  She calls us to act collectively and challenges us:  "How often do we act together to stand up for others rights? What kind of small or big actions make us human rights defenders? How do we promote human dignity in our societies?"

We encourage you to read these inspiring articles and join the discussions by commenting and interacting directly with the authors and other youth around the world.

We look forward to reading your opinions!
First Regional Basic Training Workshop on the Learning to Live Together in Africa

From 13 to 15 January 2014 the first Regional Basic Training Workshop on how to use the Learning to Live Together programme will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The workshop is organised jointly by the GNRC Secretariat in Nairobi and the Ethics Education office in Geneva, for GNRC focal points in Africa.

Approximately 35 participants from the region will participate in the training. There will be 15 participants from Kenya (including Arigatou International Nairobi staff) and 20 participants from other African countries coming from Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa.

The workshop aims to train GNRC national focal points, who directly work with children and young people, on the educational approach, main concepts, methodologies and resources of the Learning To Live Together programme.

The objective is to build capacity for educators to work on ethics education with children and young people in interreligious and intercultural contexts. For this purpose a concrete follow-up strategy is being designed and a community of practice is expected to be in place after the workshop.
New E-Learning Program Manager

New E-learning Program Manager for Arigatou International Geneva

Arigatou International Geneva is currently engaged in the development of an e-learning platform for facilitators of the Learning to Live Together manual, and in the conceptualisation of a digital game for children and youth based on the manual. 

These two exciting initiatives that will provide sharing opportunities and training support to those using the Learning to Live Together, and will create virtual spaces for children and youth to learn from one another, interact and collaborate, will be coordinated by our new E-Learning Program Manager, Valérie de Pauw. 

We are happy to introduce you to Valérie who is based in Geneva and who has already enthusiastically started to work on the development of these platforms.  Previous to her engagement with Arigatou, Valérie worked as an E-learning consultant and instructional designer for a range of colleges and other organisations across Canada, where she developed courses, standards and templates for educational and instructional technology resources, and guided the development of virtual campuses.  Valérie has expertise on adult education and experience promoting collaborative learning in classroom settings.  She also worked in Chile as curriculum development consultant and Spanish instructor. 

Valérie will be in touch with you soon with updates on these initiatives and with new activities to engage you in the development. 

Stay tuned!