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Learning to Live Together manual used in Super Congress in India

A one day workshop based on the Learning to Live Together manual was held during an international congress organised by Shanti Ashram and the Focolare movement in Coimbatore, India. Arigatou International was invited to facilitate the workshop using the methodologies, activities and approach of the material. Read more… 

From 6 to 12 August, more than 600 children from different parts of the world gathered to learn about unity and reflect about the importance of understanding and respecting people of different cultures and beliefs. The Super Congress was supported by more than 200 local volunteers who made the logistical work possible.

The event brought together in partnership different sectors, organisations and individuals in Coimbatore. Government agencies, UNICEF, Universities, NGOs, companies, the National Post Office, children, young people, elders, politicians, professors and social workers contributed to the Super Congress and brought added value to the results and impact in the young people.

The workshop on Learning to Live Together was facilitated by international and local facilitators who are part of member organisations of the GNRC. During the day, participants were divided in age groups where they had activities to get to know each other better, find commonalities among them and learn about their differences.

It was a good opportunity to explore their cultural identity, talk about their beliefs and the things they like doing. It opened spaces to get into dialogue about conflicts and situations that affect them in their countries. Some of the groups discussed discrimination based on caste, religion and race. They reflected about injustices with immigrants and refugees and issues of lack of respect among people in their countries. Through role plays they looked at different ways of transforming those conflicts and proposed ways to make a difference in their places back home.

One of the participants said: "During the workshop I saw how the youth are really affected by the conflicts. We were also very happy to have this workshop so we can be the start of a great change! It really helped me be ready to be the change in the world."

The workshop finished with a walking meditation. Participants walked through different areas of the venue that were prepared to bring the participants into a reflection about themselves, their relationships with others and with the environment. Each area was decorated with colors, smells and objects that allow the youth to walk silently and search for peace within.

The activities allowed the participants to reflect about issues that most of them hadn’t consistently and intentionally thought about before. It provided them with space to listen to what others had to say about different situations and themselves and most importantly it gave them the chance to think of what can be done when conflicts happen. This was a unique space during the Super Congress for the participants to get into dialogue, listen to one another and get to know each other better.

The next day after the workshop, participants were taken to different villages in Coimbatore to explore how individuals and communities work together to bring transformation to the society. This day was designed to complement the workshop on Learning to Live Together and give the opportunity to the participants to get inspired by the local initiatives and people. On the last day, the youth reflected about the learning of the last two days and proposed ways to bring about change in their schools, families and neihbourhoods.

Special thanks to Shanti Ashram for extending this invitation to Arigatou International and for all the coordination and work to make the Super Congress successful.  We also thank the facilitators of the Learning to Live Together workshop for their contributions, commitment and excellent work. 

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