Peace Scholar Post: Building Friendships, Building Peace

This is part of a series of blog posts written by the 2014 Peace Scholars as they experience their summer program in Norway. This post was written by Madeline Hyde from Concordia College.  

“No realist politics in a civilised society is imaginable unless it is based on love of one’s neighbour, mutuality, helpfulness and trust. This is the rock upon which all human cooperation must be built.” – Fridtjof Nansen

Maddie pictureIt is in this spirit of Fridtjof Nansen that the Peace Scholars and 16 students from ex-Yugoslavia began their week at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue in Lillehammer, Norway. During our stay, we formed friendships and learned from one another through lectures, exercises in dialogue, World Cup games, barbecues, and more. When we got to the Nansen Center, we were greeted by a man named Steinar Bryn who is the founder and director of the Nansen Dialogue Network and has opened dialogue centers throughout ex-Yugoslavia. These centers facilitate dialogue between ethnic groups that have traditionally been in conflict with one another. They also open up space for these groups to discuss the conflict and often help participants create friendships that transcend these differences – similarly to how some of my own friendships with others at the Nansen Center developed during my time there. These friendships are just as important as what we are learning in class at the International Summer School in Oslo. Everyday, I learn something about another way of life and culture through my new friends.

While at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue, I heard another quote that stuck with me. It came from the beginning of the UNESCO Constitution and was read to us by the Croatian Minister of Veteran’s Affairs. “That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” For me, both of these statements summarize the meaning of the Peace Scholar program. This is what the Nansen Center provided for us and what the International Summer School in Oslo continues to inspire. The Peace Seminar at International Summer School is enriching our minds and our friendships with students from all over the world and is helping us to create a space where respect and understanding for others thrives.
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