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Blog: Faith in the Commonwealth workshop brings young Commonwealth peacebuilders together in the Caribbean

6 April 2018
Blog by Michelle Callander, Faith in the Commonwealth Project Manager - Commonwealth Secretariat

Trinidad and Tobago has hosted the second Faith in the Commonwealth Youth Training of Trainers workshop, uniting passionate young leaders across the Caribbean in the pursuit of building more cohesive communities.

Faith in the Commonwealth, a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Khalili Foundation, uses global citizenship education theory and practice to promote greater respect and understanding of different faiths and cultures. The training of trainer workshops are designed to teach young leaders practical facilitation skills so that they can lead community initiatives and dialogues that promote interfaith and intercultural respect and understanding, leading to stronger community cohesion.

The workshops, which have also taken place in Kenya, lead the students through a structured course that teaches self-awareness, empathy, an appreciation of the complexity of contemporary life and the interconnectedness of global forces that shape local, national and international relations.

Michelle Callander, Faith in the Commonwealth project officer said that “bringing the workshop to Trinidad and Tobago gave us an opportunity to explore together the contemporary challenges that are most critical to young people in the Caribbean. It brought together young people from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica and Saint Lucia who found working through the facilitation exercises that there was so much more that unites them than divides them along faith, cultural, ethnic and national lines. These are lessons that they will take into the work that they will lead with their communities”.

Sian Mendoza of Trinidad noted that the workshop “has equipped me with the confidence and tools to facilitate similar workshops. I am excited to share the knowledge gained and aid in promoting respect, understanding and youth empowerment with my co-workers, the members of my community and by extension other young people across the Commonwealth”.

Yvonne Barrow of Guyana appreciated “the teaching methods - every activity had an underlying meaning for social change and respect.” And for Jamaican Kenene Senior, the training will improve her practice “as an educator, positive behaviour support agent and community social entrepreneur. I feel energized to not just dream about the ideas I have been toying with, but to actually initiate such plans”.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Head of Social Policy Development Section, Layne Robinson, said “The Ministers and senior officials present during the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (20CCEM) meeting in Nadi, Fiji reiterated in the Nadi Declaration the importance of initiatives like Faith in the Commonwealth in imparting global citizenship. Instilling these values in young people across the Commonwealth through peace education will contribute to greater understanding of social rights and responsibilities, and respect for cultural and religious diversity”. Projects like the Faith in the Commonwealth Project forms part of the Commonwealth continued support to youth people through its dedicated Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP).

The third Youth Training of Trainers session is planned for Bangladesh in May 2018. Faith in the Commonwealth is funded for twelve months, and with further funding will extend its reach to a further eight Commonwealth countries over 2018 – 2020.

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