Reflections

Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Doi Suthep, Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The phrase “Last but not least” is more meaningful and appreciated when we took the last Interreligious Pilgrimage as the last visit of the peace lab’s activity.  The whole day was full of joys and wisdom especially due to the great intellect of Dr. Le Ngoc Bich Ly, Acting Head of the Department of Peace Studies.  Her knowledge sharings about the life of Buddha and belief, culture and practices of Buddhism were not only the assets of the department but also the great learning opportunities for both students and other pilgrimages.  It was very impressive.  Visiting waterfalls, different Buddhist temples, Palace gardens, and Hmong village together with professors and friends is a sweet moment and memory.  Showing good spots to see the view from high elevation from the suggestions of our smart driver who is also a competent communicator with his language skill, was also an extra bonus for all of us.  Because of the whole day trip with the requirement of hard physical movements, caring for each other when necessary is also impressive and building stronger relationships among all of us.  I had a chance to escape from my daily life with books and computer on that day.

Overall Appreciation

It is highly appreciated to the whole program and the Peace Lab leader Dr. Rey, for his all wonderful arrangement and detail management in before, during and after each pilgrimage.  We also learned that the personal network is important for every program to be successful.  I also like to thank all of the friends and sponsors (both individuals and organizations) who support us with both financial and non-financial support, such as their remembrance and prayers.

Reflections on the Pilgrimage to the Roman Catholic Jesuit Seven Fountains Retreat Center, Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The Seven Fountains Retreat Center is a good place to visit and worship.  It opens to all for worship.  Ecologically friendly religious compound welcomed me and made me realize the peacefulness.  Father Paul is dedicated most of his life to the Northern Thailand mission. We have learned the Catholic Faith and Beliefs, Liturgy, Structure and the Ways of Living.  In detail, we have learned more about The Apostles’ Creed, The Seven Sacraments, and the Main Ways of LIving the Christian Life such as “Lay Life”, “Ordained Life”, and the “Religious Life”.  The chapel is decorated with and reflects Thai culture.  It is one of the places I would like to go again.  Fellowship with coffee before leaving is unforgettable.

Reflections on the Pilgrimage to the Sikh Gurdwara, by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022

“Sikhism practices and believes that all are children of God, the supreme power who creates everything in the world, and no division of religion. It practices the principle of equality and thinks for others. It teaches us to try to overcome and avoid lust, greed, jealousy, egoism, and anger.  They also focus on the present time without heaven and hell.  The Sikh followers are also being taught not to pray for themselves when they donate to others.  The sense of defense, both self-defense, and defense for others seemed to be rooted in their culture, and also became their symbol.  Devotion to the supreme power and truly living and serving the community on a daily basis are the significant nature of that religion.  Like other religions, Sikhism also encounters the challenge of globalization in their younger generations to follow the practices guided by the seniors.”

Reflections on Storytelling by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022

Storytelling is one of the important tools for peace.  It can change people’s mindsets as well as shape their way of thinking and doing supportively.

When we tell the story, it should come from our hearts and we need to care for the audience.  Audiences’ participation in the story is one of the essentials for successful storytelling.  We have to use our voices, actions, songs, and dance to keep people’s focus and create our story more visible. 

Unfortunately, when we tell stories that include wars and fights, children tend to be more interested in the fighting parts.  Selecting good stories to make the world better is one of the essentials as well as challenges for peace professionals and storytellers.

Reflections on the Wat Suankok Monk Chat by Myo Aung

It is the first time I hear that a Buddhist monk expresses Buddha as a philosopher and that Buddhism is not a religion. I am very impressed with that.

As a Buddhist, other things are not strange. 

The question is echoing in my mind “Why did  ‘NOT RELIGION THING’ become ‘ A RELIGION’ ?” I hope that I will get that answer one day.

Reflection on the Changklan Masjid Dialogue by Myo Aung

After this trip, I realized that I should learn more about other religions, at least very basic ones. Because there are a lot of new words for me. So I can not understand their explanation well. 

Reflections on the Dialogue at the Mosque (Ajan Jirachai)

(Wednesday, September 28, 2022) by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn

There are over 20,000 Muslim persons in Chiangmai currently, 60% are Chinese Muslim, 30% are Indian Muslim, and the rest are others.

A distinction is made between religion and culture.  There are many groups of Islam in the world. The Qur’an is common to all Muslims. Different groups have different additional teachings.

Reflections on Creativity, Resilience, and Peacebuilding (Wednesday, Sep 27, 2022) by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn

  • I have learned that we can miss our creativity when we got pressure on our brains.  It is very much impressive to learn from the practical perspective of practitioner.
  • The tools for creativity of peace are just around us, such as music, arts, performance, sports etc.  Although we have different languages and culture backgrounds, these elements are easily understood universally and adapted.
  • It is important to notice the moment in our daily lives and most of the creative mindsets are coming when we consider for others.
  • Resilience are kind of bouncing up (bounce back but not to original place but to the place where something good or more improved).
  • We have to care ourselves (self-care). We have to re-connect with ourselves and it is to know ourselves more.  Resilience is to deal with the situation, not running away.  We need to connect with the community and more rely on the resilience of that community rather than ours, to walk longer journey.  Resilience is also a life-long journey and keep walking with a regular small step daily.  Be consistent but not intensive.

Reflections on the Talk of Ven. Dhammananda (September 14, 2022)

Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn

  • I could learn and confirm that fortune telling is not a traditional Buddhist way and not the teaching and guiding of Buddha.  However, fortune tellers can heal the souls of people who are suffering and in need.
  • Our happiness is our own and not necessary to put in others’ hands.
  • We need to consider after doing things such as “am I really happy?”
  • Forgiveness is powerful.  The female monk can forgive Myanmar as well as apologize when she arrives at Shwedagon pagoda, the most famous pagoda in Myanmar, for what she has learned in her childhood about the Myanmar people.

Reflections on An International Seminar on Education under Attack: Culture, Resistance, Conflict, Education, National Security, and Peacebuilding in Southern Thailand

Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Tuesday, September 6, 2022, 13:00-18:00

Language

  • Designated language in the conflict area is one of the sensitive issues if there are a people with multiple cultures and backgrounds.  It (language) is the one of the root causes of conflict in Southern Thailand, rather than religious issue which is used to be misunderstood as the root cause of conflict.  Thai language is official and powerful for good future, such as job opportunities & higher education.

Education

  • Multicultural Education is important for the conflict reduction and resolution as well as for national security.  However, the challenge is that it does not discuss conflict transformation, including conflict’s root causes and reconciliation processes.
  • Teaching the sensitive related issues (e.g., Patani history in this case) about conflicts at young age could be risky.  Children’s ability to conceptualize (critical thinking) would not be ready.
  • “Wai Khru”: Pay respect to the teacher.  Paying respect to elders used to be practiced in the family to the children even before sending to school.  Many countries have respects to the teachers even there is no Wai Khru.  It is very simple but need to understand the real concept. 
  • Decentralization of education system to the multi-cultural existence region (conflict area) could be a good option.  However, readiness of local/regional capacity of “how to” is also important.  Otherwise, it might go back to centralization, such as curriculum development.

Culture

  • Culture fluency project activities are useful for awareness of culture and communication by building a bridge for connecting differences.  It approaches how to live with diversity in the context of violent conflict. Cultural fluency is a skill, not knowledge.
  • For sensitive case and due to cultural aspect, choosing the words wisely such as using “dialogue” instead of “debate” is more polite and appropriate, but “debate” is also important to practice for making clear of the situation too.

Other

  • In solving the problem or peace talks, apology-first is decent choice.  But that apology should be sincere.  It is good to put in the first, but next steps should be followed in some issues.

Sharing a thought

Can peacebuilding subject/education fit in all levels of education, such as primary, secondary, and tertiary?  Different approaches of teaching peace should be designed to introduce in the education system, even the usage of the word “peacebuilding”.  It should be replaced with other terms for basic level (early ages) such as friendship, harmony, etc.

Ashelu Chakhesang

I have been here in Thailand for some years already and used to think that Thailand is a peaceful land without conflicts. Furthermore, I never know that religious differences can cause problems in schools or universities. Attending this seminar makes me aware of the conflict present in Southern Thailand and the complications in the educational system in Patani.

 I have learned from the presenters that it is essential to be sensitive toward other religious beliefs. Whether in the institution or society, respecting one another’s differences is the key to a peaceful society. Instead of coercion, celebrating differences, and giving space for one another would lead to peace. I have also learned new concepts such as Multicultural Education, Cultural fluency, etc.

It is comforting and impressive to see local scholars dealing with the current issues and developing plans to bring solutions to the conflicts.

Myo Aung

Honestly, I am not very familiar with Thailand’s contents such as peace, religion, and the southern Thailand conflict. It is my first time listening to conflict, promoting multicultural education, and peacebuilding in southern Thailand from many perspectives.

Some late questions came to my mind after the seminar.

What is the difference between culture and religion?

Why just multicultural education? Why not multi-religious education?

What are the interpretations of multicultural education among teachers?

How did the different interpretations lead to the gap between implementation and the policy purpose of multicultural education?

These questions are really helpful for my studies and for future readings.