“I have been dreaming all my life.
I have been dreaming happiness and un-happiness,
I have experienced both.
I now want neither, they have not fulfilled me.
I hope now for the real thing
that will transcend happiness and un-happiness.
I sit back, put my feet up and relax ”
This was a reflection from one of the participants at the recent Peace Education Programme in Cheltenham.
The latest Peace Education Programme in Cheltenham drew to a close in December. Cathy Watts, the facilitator, describes how the PEP came together.
“The team had been looking for somewhere to host the PEP and so I was delighted when I felt drawn to approach the local Community Centre that the manager responded very positively. He had previously been impressed by a ‘Designed for Joy’ DVD he had picked up at the local chip shop two years earlier!”
Cathy stressed that the promotion of the PEP played a large part in its success, and that word of mouth and personal interaction were more effective than flyers in generating interest. The Community Centre manager had been in the process of putting together an event to mark the United Nations Peace Day on 21st September. The PEP team were more than happy to be included at short notice and contributed an introduction to Prem Rawat`s Message of Peace. This raised awareness about the PEP, which began two weeks later.
Cathy felt that the PEP works well when the atmosphere is relaxed, not over-formal, but warm and welcoming. Some flexibility is important to suit the participant’s needs, allowing people to “drop-in” to individual sessions, for instance, if they couldn`t commit to the full programme. This meant that, in addition to the five participants who completed the whole course, another four were able to sample the workshop, and may choose to attend a re-run in future.
From her personal perspective she reflects, “the participants thanked us for running this programme, but I feel that I received so much from making the effort to do this. It has been wonderfully exciting, very sweet and deeply rewarding. I am so glad that, as the facilitator, I refrained from trying to respond to the questions and doubts that arose as an inevitable part of the learning – because then I got to witness how, time and again, the confusion was taken care of by the PEP material, more than once in the very next DVD clip.”
Cathy remarked at the high level of interest and enthusiasm shown over the ten weeks of the PEP, and at the level of commitment of all involved. She was impressed by the thoughtfulness and reflections of the participants, some of which are included here:
‘If this programme were introduced and followed on a mass scale … we would have a peaceful world where everyone was appreciated and we could concentrate on enjoying the beauty around us … we would have joy in our hearts, show understanding towards others and be able to grow”
“When you accept that there IS hope, then you have to do something …”
“I have found the Peace Education Programme hugely inspirational. I believe the programme provides the perfect blueprint for facing up to the challenges presented by today’s world.”
“Bring It On!” – followed by hearty exclamations of agreement from all.
“The themes of the workshop have one by one dealt with all the things that I think are important to both the individual and society and it is never more needed than in this current climate with its discourses of intolerance, hate and war. These urgently need a balancing force.”
“Can we have a re-run of this workshop? Please!!”
Cathy reports that participants who have now completed the PEP are keen to help make it available to many diverse local audiences, and the team has plans to introduce it at interfaith meetings, carers support groups and in local music circles. Some young students from the University of Gloucestershire have taken an interest in the subject of peace recently, and the team have just started working with them at the Springbank Community Resource Centre to help pull together a Family Fun Peace Event, scheduled for 2nd May 2016.