Socially Engaged Buddhist Peacebuilding and Social Development Course for Women Activists in South and Southeast Asia

September 10 –30, 2010 Chiang Mai, Thailand
International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP) IWP announces our fourth annual Socially Engaged Buddhist Peacebuilding and Social Development Course for Women Activists in South and Southeast Asia. The course is designed for Buddhist women activists who are active in community organizations and NGOs that would like to integrate engaged Buddhist teachings into their community work and deepen their own personal Buddhist practice. The course is three weeks long and participants are expected to implement action plans based on their learning upon return to their home communities. The course will be held at IWP’s training center, outside Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Course Objectives: 1. Link engaged Buddhist philosophy and practice to active non-violence, peace building and justice in their community organizing work. 2. Increase participants’ knowledge of the main Buddhist teachings and use them to analyze structural violence particularly on the issues of gender, violence against women, political and racial oppression. 3. Help participants unlearn harmful notions on karma at the personal and structural levels and relearn more empowering interpretations with the teaching tools to work with their community on this issue. 4. Provide an opportunity for participants to learn Buddhist teachings and practices about peace building, conflict transformation, and non-violent actions. 5. Develop achievable and realistic plans of actions that participants will undertake upon return to their communities; and provide necessary follow-up support for effective implementation. 6. Establish a network of grassroots Buddhist women activists in the region who are committed to cultivating spiritual practice as a foundation for their feminist activism. All of IWP’s training courses are highly participatory in nature, focused on personal transformation that leads to awareness and confidence to take action for social change.

PO Box 3, Mae Rim Post Office, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 Thailand (66) 6184 1323 or (66 53) 376 103; info@womenforpeaceandjustice.org www.womenforpeaceandjustice.org

The teaching methodology Buddhism emphasizes experience as a basis for learning and transformation. Different forms of daily mindfulness practices and meditation are designed to help participants form the foundation for their peace work. The teaching methodology will combine learning through lecture, experiential learning activities, skills building and spiritual training. Experiential learning activities help participants go beyond the intellectual and information and incorporates a holistic model, in which participants use head, heart, hands, and spirit (intellectual, emotional, kinesthetic, and spiritual modalities) in the learning process. Learning methods will include small group discussion, role-plays, group challenges, audiovideo and visual aids, exposure trips to witness from real situations, and a meditation retreat. This approach incorporates Buddhist perspectives as well as practice. The course content  Introduction to Buddhism, brief history of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia.  Learning the main Buddhist teachings, primarily the Four Noble Truths and the eightfold noble paths to analyze different social problems such as women's oppression, poverty, gender- based violence conflict at different levels (personal, community and global) and use them a guide for solutions.  Deconstructing and challenging Buddhist misinterpretations such as the notion of karma that are promoting and sustaining oppression and violence particularly on women and issue of gender and diversity.  Using the Four Abiding Abodes (Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity) as guidance for action on building peaceful and healthy relationships and community.  The intersections of Buddhism and Feminism; the role of Women in Buddhism; and Buddhism and violence against women.  Buddhism and Non-Violent Action.  Challenging ourselves as Buddhist activists -- how to create balance to avoid burnout, and how to be driven by compassion and joy instead of anger and despair.  Daily Mindfulness practice and meditation.  Community work. Core Skills for Participants We have identified core skills that we expect participants can develop or foster through the curriculum which integrates personal mindfulness practice, concepts for social change and community building. These skills will support participants’ process of personal transformation leading to take action for social change. These core skills include:  Building peace within: working with fear, stress, despair, and anger from a Buddhist methodology and practice.  Cultivating mindfulness, awareness, and inner peace  Mindful/deep listening and Buddhist feminist counseling skills  Collective, power sharing leadership for social change  Non-violent action for social change, conflict transformation and peace building  Giving and receiving constructive feedback  Social problems analysis skill based upon the Buddhist teachings.  Diversity and anti-oppression work (understanding privilege and power)/working across differences

 Stress reduction, dealing with anger and despair.  Inner transformation work Plans of Action The last part of the course is focused on Plans of Action – ways that participants plan to take their learning and experience back to their communities. The plans of action reflect the most relevant learning of the participants and the ways they can apply that learning in their home context. Participants from each country/area are encouraged to develop action plans together to support the process of developing local networks and alliances. IWP staff work with participants individually (or country groups) to develop realistic plans, and then discuss together about what kind of follow up support participants will need to put the plans into action. In the past, IWP staff has offered support through co-facilitating trainings with participants in their home communities, offering advice and suggestions about curriculum development and training design, providing other appropriate resource people for trainings/workshops in their home communities, and providing financial support for translation/publication of useful materials. Follow-up is tailored very specifically to each context to ensure that the participants have sufficient support to apply the core skills acquired during the training in their home communities. Participants: The three week training workshop is designed for 16-18 grassroots women activists from the South and Southeast Asia region. The course will be conducted in English, and participants need to be able to express their ideas and opinions in English. There will be time devoted for participants to form study groups to assist each other with language and comprehension. Participants and their organizations are expected to fundraise their own travel expenses. The fees for the course are $250 USD. Participants from organizations that are not able to pay the fees should contact us. Implementing Organization: International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP) is a spiritual based feminist organization working to support grassroots activism in South and Southeast Asia. IWP leads workshops, retreats and training courses which share in common the integration of feminism, social action and spirituality for sustainability and transformation at the personal, community and society levels. Our goal is to work systematically and strategically with grassroots groups over a sustained period of time, practicing a partnership culture that has spirituality as a core foundation of social activism. This is our effort to offer alternatives to the hierarchical systems that dominate mainstream institutions and even progressive social movements. Please see our website: www.womenforpeaceandjustice.org for more information.

If you are interested to attend this course, please fill out the following application and return it to IWP before July 1, 2010. Please send by email if possible: ginger@womenforpeaceandjustice.org; or by mail: PO Box 3, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 Thailand Name: Nationality or ethnicity: Age: Contact Information (the easiest way for us to contact you: email, phone, mail, etc): Organization contact information: How did you find out about this course? What is your current work/study (area of focus)? What are your expectations from this course? How do you think a course on Buddhism and Peacebuilding can support your work/study/lifestyle now and your vision for the future? What, if any, links do you see between spiritual practice and your activism/social change work? What are 3 personal strengths you have that you will contribute to this course and community? What are 3 skills/areas that you would like to develop in this course and community? A name and contact information (email if possible) of someone who can serve as a reference for you: Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

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