Before becoming a part of the Peace Work Institute family, I have heard about this project from my friends who were participating in the previous events held by the Roots. The stories they told, the emotions they had, the connections they kept with the international friends made me think of becoming one of them. I applied and got admitted.
At first, I was concerned about being in a team with people from a conflict zone, talking to them, but after communicating and sharing with them in a warm atmosphere my concerns disappeared. The first event took place in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was my first step into peacebuilding. I returned home with a ‘bag’ full of friends, knowledge, experience and unforgettable memories. This ‘bag’ became bigger and bigger after each event.
In Berlin, we developed a basis for a new Tandem project called ‘Art4Peace’ which took place in Ureki, Georgia. This event was an unforgettable experience for most of the participants, because it was all about making peace together, having fun together, discussing together. Before participating in it, I would never have imagined communicating with people from a conflict zone, having fun with them, dance, sing and perform together, or – simple as it is – eating at the same table was possible. I did communicate with them, I did have fun with them, I did all the things I have mentioned, of which I am proud.
I will never forget the moment when, during the playback theatre, people shared their stories and emotions and others performed them. This was the peak of the emotional sharing: so many stories and so many similarities between us and our feelings. Peace Work Institute project gave me knowledge and skills which I am still using in my life. This project gave me tolerance towards a lot of things, changed my way of thinking, pushed me to discover myself more. More specifically, I started to pay more attention to connectors than dividers, decreased critical thinking, started avoiding negative impacts. The project gives a space to express yourself, makes you feel a part of a worldwide family, builds peace with you and makes you understand that – You Matter.
Marina Babayan, Armenia – Roots Peace Work Institute 2018 Alumna
More testimonials available in our Peacework Guidebook.