As a political refugee from war-torn Afghanistan, I was moved and inspired by the ideas shared at this year´s Nansen Seminar on peace building. This four-day seminar focusing on peace building and dialogue took place on June 12-15th. We were 75 participants ranging from university students, PhD researchers and teachers to peace workers, social activists, writers and politicians.
Here, in the Nansen Centre for Peace and Dialogue, we have been sharing experiences from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, the Balkans, Somalia and Kashmir; from Europe to Africa, and all under one roof to discuss our common goal of peace building. The seminar’s schedule included workshops, group discussions and panel sessions that were a chance for everyone to tell their stories and learn from one another’s ideas.
“From my experience over the last 20 years, dialogue is a powerful way of communicating, because it challenges the very perceptions we have of reality. When you have a debate, a discourse, or a discussion very often… you are defending your own position. Because of that you will not listen to others, but in dialogue you are not supposed to compromise or sign an agreement. Instead one should be open to listening to others in order to achieve better results in the long term,” said Mr. Steinar Bryn in the first session of the seminar.
In his remarks Mr. Bryn mentioned that Palestinians and Israelis can make dialogue in order to listen to each other and find out the roots of their conflict without having any political agreement.
Based on this principle a multicultural society needs more regular meaningful talks to encourage mutual respect and understanding and so build a stronger community.
Hope for a better future
I was invited as a volunteer to co-operate with the seminar and write short reports about each workshop. I found the event inspiring and useful and really wished that in my country, Afghanistan; we could make our way towards real peace and so let our new democracy go from strength to strength. The seminar was coincidentally held during the Afghanistan presidential election run-off on 14th June and I was optimistic that Afghan politicians would accept the election result but sadly after two days the situation got more complicated and the country went into crisis. Indeed I was late for the first day of seminar because I had to finish an article about the run-off, which I did in Oslo central station, missing my train as I sent the article for publishing. (Ref 1)
The entire seminar left me with many new and creative ideas based on contributors’ experience and insights about how to work towards a more harmonious society. In a multi-ethnic country like Afghanistan where we have been suffering for many decades, such inspiration is enough to keep hope for a better future alive.
1) My latest about presidential run-off; http://www.afghanistan.no/Artikler/2508.html
Gulabuddin Sukhanwar, published poet and writer, on his impressions from the Nansen Seminar.