The Global Border Studies (GBS) program, founded in 201, is a collaboration between World Education and local partner the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity (KRCEE) with financial support from the Dundalk Instiute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland. During the two year academic program GBS students explore topics of peacebuilding, reconciliation, and sustainable development as well as participate in practicums including the Peacebuilding Workshop in Karen State, Myanmar, during the month of December.
In November 2015, Myanmar held its widely anticipated national election with the National League for Democracy (NLD) victorious and forming a new government. As the NLD comes into power, the people of Myanmar are hopeful for change, peace, and growth. Shortly after the NLD’s victory was announced, GBS, taking advantage of the peace movement within the country, initiated their Peacebuilding Workshop. The objective of the workshop was to promote peaceful coexistence between diverse groups and to build trusting relationships amongst community members and neighboring villages. Through the workshops, students focused on four main target groups in each community: leaders, parents, youth, and children. GBS students were divided into four community groups and each group prepared specific workshop activities for each target group based on results from a needs assessment conducted prior to the workshop.
The workshop enables GBS students to engage firsthand in peacebuilding projects allowing them to better understand the power of conflict transformation, reconciliation, and healing within communities. By having GBS students coordinate and lead the workshop, they gain a better sense of how they, as students, can contribute to promoting equality and peace within their communities. Feedback from the community was positive, with participants excited about the new relationships they built with those from different backgrounds and ethnicities. The students were able to promote inspirational and peaceful coexistence among diverse groups and gained valuable experience in facilitating activities that build trusting relationships among neighboring communities. The GBS students will continue to cultivate these skills in the classroom and now with practical experience, have the confidence to continue developing their communities and peace within Myanmar.