As you will see Cauxmuniqué is coming to you in a new format. We hope you will enjoy the photos and explore the links.
It is prime recruiting time for The Caux Scholars Program.We need your help spreading the word about CSP and recruiting new world leaders!
Please contact Jitka, our new Program Director, and she will send you an information packet that you can distribute to schools, organizations or individuals who you think might be interested.
REMINDER: The application deadline for CSP assistants is February 15! Send us a letter telling why you are interested and what you bring to the job.
From the Academic Director: Deep Listening, Trust and Serendipity
Dr. Carl Stauffer
We were stunned to silence as a hushed whisper fell over the meeting hall. Representatives of the "enemy" village had just walked in unexpectedly, interrupting a community peace meeting we were facilitating. Vusi, my South African colleague and I had been toiling for months on a peacebuilding process in Majola, a rural region of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa, consisting of 32 villages dotting the mountain side. We had been invited by community leaders to accompany the Majola region in a quest for peace after the shooting death of two high school girls in January of 2001. This was more than the community could bear and a call to end this decadal violence was sounded.
In the 1960s this "enemy" village started a cycle of violence when they assassinated a Chief from another village. In retaliation, the offended village raided the offending village and stole all their cattle. The revenge cycle of stock-theft continued with other villages being drawn in and an increasing number of killings occurring among the cattle thieves on both sides. In December of 1998, after decades of raids and violence, a gun battle broke out in the community leaving 16 persons dead in its wake. The national army was called in to stop the killing and restore "order".
Back in the meeting hall, Vusi and I quickly regained our composure and, after conferring with the local leaders, decided to give this disruptive delegation a chance to speak. This "enemy" village was made a "scape-goat" and hoisted with the full responsibility of this destructive conflict and ensuing violence. As the delegated leader started to speak it became clear that we were only going to hear one side of the story. This spokesperson recited a litany of his village's grievances and how many lives his village had lost, but made no mention of the grievances of other communities, nor took responsibility for the horrific toll of suffering and death caused by members of his own village. This was a narrative of chosen trauma - a constructed script of perpetrator as victim. Those who were present grew restless and agitated as they were forced to listen to this lopsided version of history. "Common sense" would have required us to intervene and bring this distorted monologue to a close.
However, the Spirit nudged us otherwise. Defying all logic, in consultation with the local leaders, we decided to invite the speaker to continue until he had vented all he wanted to say. We implored those in attendance to listen and promised them the opportunity to ask questions at the end. The speaker continued endlessly, but eventually the floor was opened for questions. Those in attendance began asking carefully crafted and probing questions of clarification. Emotions were high and close to the surface and what transpired was a painful, but healthy dialogue giving voice to the many shades of truth held dear to all the communities present. We closed with a challenge to the hope of reconciliation and the meeting was adjourned.
Vusi and I left the meeting discouraged. We wondered what we had accomplished, if anything at all. Here we had given the "enemy" the floor to vent and they never acknowledged responsibility, expressed remorse, or offered an apology. To add injury to insult, the listening communities were implored to bear this twisted testimony of an unrepentant perpetrator without any opportunity to voice their own story of pain. This was backward -not how we planned it.
A few weeks later, surprising news came. The community leaders went to visit this offending village and were received with open arms. They were invited to eat together and the offending village elders put forward 5 persons from their midst to serve as a mediation team. Each village was to choose a 5-person mediation team that would be trained in the next phase of our intervention plan. Amazingly, this "enemy" village was the first to choose their mediation team!
What happened here? It seems that in the act of deep listening, a serendipitous transformation occurred. As the proclaimed "enemy" was given audience and a public voice their humanity was reconstructed. Some innermost need for recognition and dignity was satisfied and in that catalytic moment trust was restored - so much so that the formally marginalized were integrated into the whole.
The remarkable events of 2011-from the "Arab Spring" to Yemen and Russia and the Occupy Wall Street movement here in the United State (my adopted home) ensure that people-power again will be a defining theme in 2012. But as we work to transition our political systems, we are mindful that it involves rebuilding trust within our societies and resolving the conflicts that exist among us. Building trust and resolving conflict peacefully are central themes for The Caux Scholars Program.
The goal of CSP is to reach tomorrow's leaders at a critical time in their lives, giving them a sense of direction and calling, as well as the knowledge that there are other people, like themselves, who are dedicated to a vision for a better world. It provides opportunities for young leaders around the world to become peaceful changemakers.
Can you believe that CSP is celebrating its 20th anniversary? Erwin Boehi of the Caux Foundation described CSP as "the flagship program of Caux." CSP has graduated over 360 leaders from 88 countries! I am committed to helping you take advantage of CSP network by further linking you, so you can help each other find jobs, connect initiatives, receive and give moral support to each other.
You can already connect to the network by: joining CSP on LinkedIn, becoming a member of CSP Facebook, and by registering on the IofC website so you can access the CSP directory. We are also hoping to develop a world map on the CSP website (which will be password protected) that will allow you to search for scholars.
Recently, I sent out a very short survey asking about your lives. I have received 32 responses so far and I will be sending you a summary upon completion. For those who haven't responded yet, please do so. Many of you have written about how CSP transformed you and how it has impacted you over the years. Your words are very encouraging and useful as we envision the future of CSP! And with your permission, I will share your quotes with the class of 2012.
Thank you for the contributions that have been coming in for the Alumni Scholarship!
Looking forward to working with all of you. Jitka
From Trash to Hope
José Carlos Leon Vargas (CSP '05) from Oaxaca, Mexico. He and his wife, Aurelia, have started the NGO SiKandawhich was given a national award from the government of Mexico for its work with rag-pickers and projects that transform organic waste into fertilizer.
What does it mean to live in a landfill, dump or slum today? According to the UN-HABITAT program, nearly one billion people - one in every six human beings -are slum dwellers, and that number is likely to double in the next thirty years. For Doña María, a mother of two, living in the landfill of Oaxaca City, in southern Mexico, a slum represents hope and opportunity.
It was almost three years ago when my fiancée and I founded SiKanda, a non-profit organization that collaborates with marginalized families who live in slums or fringe areas, to improve their living conditions. Although our intention was to help families generate income opportunities, improve their health, housing and nutrition, I believe the ones that learned the most were us.
Living with less than US$2 a day is almost unthinkable for anybody who reads these lines. But for all those like Doña María, creativity, adaptation and hope are the main tools for change. In the past two years, SiKanda was able to obtain small funds to start a program called "W.O.W." Windows of Opportunity for Change. The project has the aim of teaching worm composting to the families who live in landfills in order to produce organic fertilizer and sell it to farms, organics markets, and fair trade shops. W.O.W. provides basic equipment to the rag-pickers to protect themselves while picking the trash by hand, and also builds houses made of recycled materials. Finally, the program aims at educating people in schools, universities, companies, government institutions and industries about the problems faced by the millions of people living without water, electricity and health.
José Carlos with rag-pickers
In the first year of activities, we noticed that the families started organizing themselves to grow decorative plants for sale. They did this in order to use the fertilizer that they were not able to sell. Lupita, a single mother from Oaxaca's landfill said: "I've always wanted to sell plants and have a tree nursery. I am proud of picking trash by hand because it helps me buy food; but now I can work less because the worms produce fertilizer and I only need to look at them a few minutes everyday."
SiKanda is a small organization and I always considered that raising funds was one of the most important elements in a project. It is relevant indeed, and it is never easy to obtain financial support for the programs, but at the heart of the project is the hope that every family has, and the willingness to live in a more decent manner.
Ranya Kargbo (CSP '95) is Chief of H.R. for the United Nations in Abuja, Nigeria. Her account of the terrible day, August 26, 2011 follows:
We cannot be deterred. We celebrate, we endure, we remain vigilant in our work as United Nations International Civil Servants.
The day started early, an 8 o'clock meeting and several consultations with staff. I was thirsty and decided to get a quick break prior to the 10:30 section meeting I had scheduled for all Human Resources staff in Abuja. I was having a brief chat with colleagues in the hallway, while we waited for an elevator to go downstairs for some coffee.
The phone rang. It was my Dad calling from Sierra Leone. I was insistent on getting on with the day, but I knew it was important and my father kept talking. The last thing I remembered was him saying on the phone, "May God bless you...." I clicked off and immediately there was this loud bang! The wall behind me fell on my head. I screamed. I guessed we had been bombed. Nothing else could have rattle the building that way. Was I going to die that day?
I was bruised from falling debris and in shock. It was important for us all to get out. We found the stairs. We found each other and began the check-in of who was outside and alive, and who was inside, wounded or dead.
Outside, colleagues were at hand to assist and went back in selflessly, not afraid to die in pursuit of the living. What we witnessed in the way of carnage can hardly be imagined. We organized staff according to agencies, worked with emergency personnel to evacuate the wounded and dead and hospitals and morgues. I had a very small window of time to account for all the staff.
We set in place rules, so everyone would be accounted for and the wounded quickly found and taken to hospital. I saw every corpse as I opened body bags to account for staff; visited every morgue and hospital; and organized staff counseling and briefings of the survivors. Later, I spoke with families of the maimed and deceased to help them think through their future. Twenty-three people died, and over 160 wounded. Emotional wounds remain with all the staff in the building and those who came to help.
After this experience, I am not the same person. I refused to grieve, but chose to celebrate life. I was deeply impacted with how important relationships are, and how much I need and want to maintain them. I've always wanted justice and peace to flourish. That is why I work in the United Nations and continue to do so. More and more people are needed to work to meet the needs of humanity and move us to a future where all children would have a voice and where the most vulnerable are reached.
During the Durban Climate Summit, a team from Initiatives of Change (IofC) were official observers and part of the civil society engagement with inter-governmental negotiations. Two 2011 Caux Scholars, Firyal Mohamed and Christa Lane Hooper, were part of this team and here are some excerpts from their reports:
Stepping Back & Stepping Up
Reflection by Firyal Mohamed (CSP '11)
Upon reflection of my time in Durban, my initial struggle with my role as an observer has now been transformed into one of my most invaluable experiences. It encouraged me to learn how to 'step-back' on several occasions and embrace the role of an on-looker. I was able to identify what I saw as strengths in the processes and structures but also critically evaluate those crucial areas where I saw distrust, miscommunication, or blame brewing. I was able recognize capacities for trust-building and opportunities for engaging in dialogue.
Sometimes to achieve this, it may mean stepping back and serving more as a helping hand, or stepping up to create a safe space for open and honest conversation to occur, encouraging dialogue with an opinion you would normally dismiss. From these small acts, amazing things can emerge. It becomes a balance of understanding when we need to step back and when we need to step up. Or further, recognizing when stepping back is the step-up, so that you perhaps become 'the stage' on which the production will occur, rather than being the star of the production itself.
I felt myself turning more and more to my own inner conscience by making that space to listen, rather than to react and it was in those moments where I felt my purpose flourish. And there it was. Without even knowing it, I began to see the beginning of a new journey, nestled in the roots of one of many IofC's affirmations - the importance of silence, of quiet time - the time we intentionally make to listen to that inner voice, that came in so many unexpected times and situations, but nonetheless, they came. And now the possibilities seem endless.
Since we landed in Durban, I was consistently told by COP veterans (after all this is the 17th meeting!!) that the last 48 hours are when the real deals happen. Progress seemed slow and highly politicized with constant whisperings that the US and Canada were blocking progress, while India and China are not willing to sign on to anything legally binding. Throughout the process, multiple countries were shamed with the Fossil of the Day awards - highlighting countries, which blocked progress for the majority of countries.
Posted on December 19, 2011: A message that reverberated within civil society - from NGOs to youth organizations - was that "we stand with the least developed countries (LDCs) and Africa." The majority of support is for the countries, which seem to frequently be disenfranchised within the negotiations - the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), LDCs and Africa. My impression is that civil society uses their voice to speak the views of vulnerable countries. To many this is not just an environmental problem, but a social justice issue - "climate justice."
I have consistently been taken aback by the courage and power of these actions, especially the actions of the youth observers within the last 48 hours...The youth have stood up time and time again in this conference with several actions. The closing statement of the youth coalition (watch this closing statement) is truly inspiring. Courage is a word I have heard often over the last two weeks with some of civil society trying to foster courage from the delegates to make hard decisions.
CSP '93:Pravir Bagrodia is editor-cum-manager at the Bangalore center of a New York headquartered company, digitizing books from across the world, relating to the environment, ethics, enabling and education. CSP '95:Dale Linder and his Camerooni wife, Halima, are delighted to announce the arrival of their son, Pomgna Freeland Linder, on September 23rd. Nithi Nithiyananthan and his wife Nimmi visited Myamnar, prompted by the release of Aung San Su Kyi and the opening of democratic space in the country. They will be in Caux for the TIGE conference and Nithi, for the Caux Forum for Human Security.CSP '96:Patrick McNamara was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar in India. (Read his blog). He co-facilitated a training with Krish Raval (CSP '93) in Delhi at the Birla Institute of Management Technology. Liz Smit is actively working in the Middle East and wondering whether to work in Israel for 6 months. She is also contemplating the idea of visiting Caux in 2012. CSP '97:Reina Neufeldt and husband Naren are enjoying their baby son Johann. CSP '98:Karim Ould-Saada is in charge of Public Relations with Europe and the Gulf countries for a company based in Algiers. "I am enjoying my work and enjoy being with my family after a long separation." CSP '99:Brian Cathcart writes: "After months of planning, including my proposal to Tei on Valentine's Day in 2010, registering the marriage at City Hall in Tokyo, the wedding in Haian, China, and in Portland, Oregon, we have finally finished our weddings for now!" They had a whirlwind tour across the US, and are now settled back in Tokyo, where Brian is finishing his MBA. CSP '01:Ruxy Lazarescu and husband Adi welcomed Theodore (Teo) on December 4. Seba is being a good big brother. Amy Rice married Landry Milnes, a structural engineer for CH2MHILL, on December 17th. She currently works as a researcher in the Hydrology Group at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and plans to go back to school for her Ph.D. this fall. CSP '02:Ryan Whitley and his wife Elise welcomed their son, Jackson Randolph, on October 27th. The Whitley's live in Ardmore, PA, where Ryan is Rector of the Nevil Memorial Church of St. George (Episcopal). CSP '03:Ana-Marie (Petre) Brezniceanu owns and is the director of a Montessori preschool and has recently opened, in partnership with other Montessori institutions, an elementary school in Romania. Lauren Leigh Hinthorne is working on a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Queensland, Australia on visual research techniques and their incorporation into participatory policy monitoring and evaluation (M&E). She and husband Kieran live in Brisbane. Robtel Pailey attended the festivities in Oslo to celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize winners. (See podcast on side panel.) CSP '04: Pablo Alvarez Tostado works at Epicor Software as a Business analyst and Project Manager and was engaged in July. "I met Elisa while I worked in Disney Orlando 6 years ago, and in September we will be married." Genevieve LeBaron is now a PhD and is launching a research agenda at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada related to inclusive economics and corporate governance. Zeke Reich married Michelle Sternthal in September. They are living and working in Washington, DC. CSP '05:Roberta Hunte is finishing her dissertation. She had great students last term at Portland State in her Intro to Women's Studies, Intro to Conflict Resolution, and Family Studies classes. CSP '06:Rachel Eisenstat recently left her position as a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities in order to pursue a music career full time in Denver, Colorado. Jeanné Isler has taken a position as program director for Search for Common Ground on Race in Washington, DC. Asiya Mohamed, as part of the Foreign Service of Trinidad and Tobago, was part of a team working at the UN this fall on a statement forAdvancing the Political Participation of Women. CSP '07:Htang works with IDPs in Kachin State, providing a Psychosocial Support Program and other services to victims. "We need mediation and other peacebuilding materials." Selly Wane is in Wuppertal, Germany, trying to establish a small company Swane Design which she started two years ago and working part time in research. CSP '09:Kendra Pollock works as a Social Development and Learning specialist and at a private K-8 school in San Francisco, while finishing her Bachelor's degree and moving on to do a Masters in Occupational Therapy. "Pelin Keskin came to the Bay area and stayed with me for 10 days in September and we had the absolute best time ever." CSP '10:Janjarang Kijtikhun is working with UNCTAD on capacity-building, especially on modern port management with the TrainForTrade Port Training Program. Katherine Lance is working in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Centar za Izgradnjua Mira (Center for Peacebuilding). Mohsen Sohldoost has got his visa for Australia and flies to Brisbane Feb 10, where he'll be an International Rotary Peace Fellow at the U. of Queensland, studying Peace & Conflict Resolution. CSP '11:Maguy Arnous has begun an internship with the International Center for Transitional Justice in Beirut, while starting her Masters in Social Psychology at the American University of Beirut. "I saw Carl (Stauffer) last month! He was in Lebanon for a week and I had the chance to meet with him twice! I had missed him and all my fellow Scholars!" Ednah Kang'ee attended the10th Euromed meeting on Identity Management and Sustainable Development in Italy. She now lectures at her local University, and in September was given an opportunity to speak at a girl-child initiation program, speaking on rights, education and the hazards of early marriages. "I joined the efforts of Nelly Njoki (CSP '10), who is running a Peace Circles Program in the marginalized communities in Kenya, where conflict and violence against women is extensive and deeply rooted."
We hope you have enjoyed this issue of Cauxmuniqué. Please forward it to friends and share it with potential scholars and those interested in supporting the program. Visit our website for more information and to download the 2012 application form.