Jennifer Heads To Thailand
What program are you involved with this summer?
I will be going to Thailand on a Rotary Peace Fellowship from June to August. It’s a 3-month professional development certificate program awarded to experienced professionals from around the world. You can find out more about the program here: www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/peace-fellowships
How many people will be there?
I will be joining a cohort of 24 practitioners from around the globe. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, representing CSOs, UN, private sector and public sector institutions. I’m very proud to have been selected from applicants representing more than 50 countries.
How many from Canada will be attending?
I won’t know how many other Canadians until I am there. In past cohorts, there have been one or two Canadians represented. A few years ago, Susan Hartley from Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan in PEI was selected.
What will you be doing while you’re there?
I will be involved in an intensive 3-month study with a combination of classroom work, self-directed research and domestic and international field work. My focus areas will be human rights, gender, sustainable development and peace education.
My self-directed research/ framework will be centered around reconciliation/ decolonization. I’m also very interested in a feminist analysis of conflict and peace building, and hope to learn more about this area.
The domestic fieldwork involves visiting an area of Thailand close to the Myanmar boarder. This field trip will give us an opportunity to investigate migrant labor and refugees, natural resources, ethno-politics, development, and/or transboundary conflicts.
For the international field work study, we will be going to Sri Lanka to examine post conflict reconstruction and the roles of various actors.
What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about having the opportunity to meet scholars and practitioners from diverse fields from around the world. It will be an opportunity to build new relationships, learn new ways of thinking and build my skills in conflict prevention and resolution.
I’m also very excited because I had my first international experience in Thailand when I was 18 and made some big career and life decisions based on that experience. This was 25 years ago and it resulted in a big transformation for me! It feels a little bit like a full circle to head back there after I’m well established in my career. I’ll be visiting past friends, practising the language and enjoying the food.
Another thing I’m excited about is that my children will be joining me in Bangkok for part of the time I’m there. I know that this will also be a life-changing time for them. They will get to experience a new culture AND experience urban living since we currently live in a small community.
Besides studying what will you be doing there?
Though the course is very intensive, there is some down time. I will take the opportunity to visit with our internship partners in the region (Bangkok, Myanmar, Cambodia and Nepal) as well as to engage in some personal travel around Thailand.
What do you hope to bring back to ACIC?
There are many things! It will strengthen my own capacity for peace and conflict resolution for ACIC, the ICN and our members. I will also be learning more about what other civil society organizations are doing around peace and conflict resolution work.
With our very ambition new strategic plan, we hope ACIC will have more dialogues around decolonization. I feel the work that I’ll be doing this summer will help to create and foster this work.
I hope that I will be able to enhance my skills in research in gender, human rights, sustainable development, which in turn I will be able to bring back to ACIC. I’ll be in a better position to promote leadership in sustainable development, and within our work on Agenda 2030. I will be able to build my expertise with SDG#16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” I would like to be able to provide workshops for members upon return.
Additionally, I look forward to the peer-learning aspect of the work in Thailand and to share the ACIC/ my experience. I look forward to having the opportunity to develop new partnerships and relationships with other CSOs around the world. The facilitators of the course are international thought-leaders so I also hope to create relationships and connections with them.
Anything else you want to mention?
I’ll be missing everyone at the 2018 Symposium and I am very sad to be missing Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s keynote. I read her book a few years ago, and I’m sure that her keynote will be amazing! I highly recommend attending this year’s symposium – it’s sure to be a wonderful experience.
I’m also very confident in our staff team and their continued excellence. I’ve worked directly with the ACIC Board and the personnel committee on a plan for oversight. Through our partnership with the Northern Council, and through some external help, staff members will be fully supported while I am gone. I will be still be available to our board and staff, and can support work if need arises.
I look very forward to being able to share my experiences when I return, and to provide stronger leadership to the network.