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School for International Training – CONTACT (Conflict Transformation Across Cultures)

CONTACT is a summer professional development program at the School for International Training designed to strengthen and support the community building, coexistence and conflict intervention efforts of peacebuilders from the U.S. and around the world.

Now in its 10th year, the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) program at the School for International Training (SIT) has trained peacebuilders from more than 60 countries around the world. CONTACT participants are chosen for their ability to take what they use in the program and apply it directly to their current work in their home communities and in war-torn regions of the world. All of the participants in CONTACT’s programs (Graduate Certificate Program, Summer Institute, Peace Education in Language Teaching (CPELT), Site-Specific Training Programs, and Master of Arts In Conflict Transformation) complete their program with specific plans to bring what they have learned into their communities and training their colleagues in the new techniques and skills they have learned.

Working in the fields of sustainable development, education, human services, humanitarian aid, psychology and social work, human rights, among others, graduates of CONTACT programs use their skills in conflict transformation to make lasting impacts in their communities long after the end of the program. For example:

  • Orlen Ocleasa of the Philippines has begun to incorporate peacebuilding initiatives into his development projects. He has also begun work with ex-combatants in Mindanao.
  • Jesse Merle Bathrick of the USA has worked with the Southern Truth and Reconciliation to heal the wounds of racial injustice in southern United States.
  • Farrukh Sohail Goindi has organized and led peace marches across the Pakistan and India border.
  • Marijana Senjak has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Medica Zenica, offering training and psychosocial programs for women and children victims of violence in Bosnia.
  • Joseph Kabuye Sebarenzi of Rwanda is now completing a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies and has joined the CONTACT faculty.

According to the World Bank, 80 percent of the world’s 20 poorest countries have suffered a major war in the past 15 years, and on average, countries coming out of war face a 44 percent chance of relapsing in the first five years of peace. Without efforts to repair the schisms within the local communities, development initiatives in war-torn and conflict-ridden parts of the world are often ineffective.

Conflict transformation explores the causes and complexities of contemporary conflict, examining methods that respond to conflict without perpetuating cycles of revenge, hostility, and division. Supported by the strength of community, participants in the conflict transformation programs learn by experience how to surface common bonds and perceptual differences. Reflecting on forgiveness and reconciliation in their own traditions, they study worldwide endeavors in the field of conflict transformation that heal the wounds of war.

Resource Link: www.sit.edu/contact

Kipling Road, Box 676, Brattleboro VT 05302-0676

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