High School Students Discuss Peace at Forum


Students from five high schools within the Corporate Area learnt the principles of spreading peace when they recently gathered for an animated discussion on issues such as peace and forgiveness. The forum was organised to commemorate the United Nations’ International Peace and Global Cease Fire Day, which was observed recently.
Hosted at the Caenwood Centre, scores of students from Mona High, Trench Town High, Charlie Smith High, Jamaica College and Papine High attended the forum and expressed their views candidly about ways to effect changes for more peaceful environments in both their school and home communities.
The exercise was organised by the Jamaican Task Force for the Commemoration of the United Nations’ Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
In an interview with JIS News, Head of the Task Force, Dr. Delores Brissett said she felt that “students became aware of themselves and how they contribute to making or destroying peace. At the very end, students were asked to identify changes that could be made in their school or larger communities and they were able to arrive at conclusions.”
She explained that prior to the open-floor discussion which was mediated by Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Foundation, Donna Parchment, the students screened a 45-minute video presentation titled “Tutu and Franklin: A Journey Towards Peace”.
The video tracked students from 15 countries, all of different cultures, who gathered at a former slave trading port in Senegal, Africa.
While there, the students received a fuller appreciation of what the slave trade was like and faced the truth of slavery’s inhumane cruelty.
Dr. Brissett told JIS News that upon watching the video, the high school children saw “there were elements of the peace process.the need to be aware and conscious. The element of forgiveness was overpowering, as was the element of moving on, letting go.”
Given the current crime wave in Jamaica, Dr. Brissett said that the students were also able to relate the issues of peace and forgiveness from the video to experiences that occurred around them.
In highlighting the fact that the video showed “students coming to terms with themselves, within themselves and with one another,” she further noted, “the experience was to help students to see that there is another way [other than violence]; there is a need to be conscious of the experiences they are having, that not all of them are pleasant, but being cognizant of the fact that you can get pass it.”
Giving his view, Jamaica College student, Jermaine Whyte said that through his participation in the forum, he learnt that in order “to find a positive solution for a problem, there has to be the absence of such negative factors such as stereotyping people.”
The Jamaica College student said that the stereotyping of persons in Jamaica, or the association with their places of residence with their character, was an issue of concern.
Another student, Stacey Ann Clue of Mona High School, said her involvement in the forum made her realize that there was the need for more seminars for students to discuss issues that affected them.
“There needs to be more interaction among students and the people in Jamaica. They should use more of these seminars to educate students in knowing that they should not use things that happen in our past or in their own lives to feel angry.”
She said that persons should use past experiences as examples and subsequently, “learn to move on”.
Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Foundation, Donna Parchment, who served as a mediator for the discussions, is of the view that the students “took away a sense of responsibility from the forum.”
Continuing, she said, “whatever views they may have of the failings of generations before them, they realize they have a responsibility to deal with their own time and their own needs.”
The students, Miss Parchment told JIS News, recognised the need for Jamaicans to assume responsibility for the problems of crime and violence, negative external reputations, and the harm that affect young people in schools.
For Ms. Parchment, the forum was a success. She echoed the sentiments of a number of the students with her suggestion that forums of a similar nature, though not necessarily centred on the same topic, should be frequently held. Citing the students’ keen interest and their lively dialogue that marked the discussion, she commented that “it may be important for entities who have information about matters of particular interest to students to feed that into the school system whether it’s done in form room time, house time, as an extra curricular activity or as it was done today.” “The students are interested in talking, in being heard, in hearing one another and for adults to hear what they have to say,” she said.
The forum, which was held over three hours, was the final activity that marked the commemoration of the International Peace and Global Cease-fire Day.

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