The 20th anniversary of CSP was celebrated June 6 at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC, hosted by the Swiss Ambassador, Manuel Sager. The visionary message of IofC International President Dr. Omnia Marzouk reminded people of the power of Caux to bring transformation and healing.
Caux Scholars with Ambassador Sager, IofC International President Dr Omnia Marzouk, and three current and former CSP Academic Directors (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)
One of the honorees of the evening was Sonali Samarasinghe (CSP '96) from Sri Lanka. Sonali spoke powerfully about how IofC/CSP has affected her life: "The seeds that were planted by my parents and by the inspirational people I met through IofC propelled me into a more proactive role as a journalist and human rights defender. It inspired me to pursue investigative journalism, to boldly speak truth to power, to speak out for those with no voice and to stand up and cry foul when I saw an injustice."
In sharing her story of forgiveness (see below) Sonali inspired many in the room. One 2012 scholar, who still has $1800 to raise, responded with her own determination to make it to Caux. We applaud her conviction and hope that funds will be raised to help her. Many of this year's class are still working to find the money needed to be at Caux.
We are only one third of the way to raising the Alumni Scholarship for Ismail Modawiy from the Sudan.
Ismail has been on the forefront of working on implementing the rule of law amidst the civil war in Sudan, and, through his work with UNDP, challenging the human rights abuses that have taken place in the last ten years. He states: "In the end there are two underlying values involved - justice and reconciliation. Although they appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, the goal in both cases is an end to the cycles that perpetuate war, violence and human rights abuses." Ismail is a person who has experienced much on the ground and who wants to hear about best practices from the international community.
Dear Alumni, please consider what you can do to raise the additional $2400 needed for the scholarship.
Refresh your memory of the Caux experience with this short video, Caux comes to life!, produced by Giang Hoang from Vietnam and Charlotte Sawyer from the UK about CSP. It had a powerful impact at the Swiss Embassy event.
Thank you for your giving to build the lives of young people and their outreach. Our best wishes to you and all that you are doing for your families, communities, countries and this precious world we live in. Let's give so that others can have the experience as Caux Scholars.
Jitka, Kathy and Randy
From the Academic Director: An imagined reconciliation
Chills ran up and down my spine as I felt a heavy emotion settle like a cloud over the training group. What was going on? This was a role-play simulation and yet it felt so real - I had facilitated this particular restorative justice exercise on many occasions in 20 different countries in Africa, but this time it was different. The sadness, the pain, the loss seemed to hit us all in the gut. The main character, a young man named Chadwin*, from a "colored" township in Johannesburg, South Africa had captured our hearts and our minds. We as the participants were fully immersed in this story - the grimacing expressions, the solemnly bowed heads, the tears that started to flow - it was if each of us were re-living a trauma that we had never known.
It was 4:30 pm - time to close the second day of the workshop. As the facilitator, I had allowed the simulation to take its full course because of the powerful reenactment that we were all drawn into. This meant there was no time left to debrief the learning from that experience - that had to be saved for the next day. As we adjourned, I determined to find out who this young man Chadwin was. In fact, at that time I did not even know his name. He had stepped into this community training to deliver a package to one of the participants and for whatever reason decided to stay un-introduced.
When it came time to break into simulation groups, Chadwin joined the participant group that was acting the role of the family of the perpetrator. As the text prescribed, this young perpetrator had murdered a neighbor and friend in gang violence. Now the young offender was being released from prison and the two families were attempting to meet for the first time in years. To my chagrin, this group assigned Chadwin the lead role as the perpetrator. So, I took it upon myself to try to bring this young stranger 'up to speed' on the training content and coached him to internalize his role and play it with as much authenticity as possible. I was dubious that this would work. But I was wrong...as he began to articulate his role in the killing, his apology to the family and his remorse for the loss of a friend and brother we were all enthralled - we found ourselves in a 'sacred' space.
The next morning, Chadwin told us his personal story. As a young 16 year old rising gang leader, he killed a rival gang leader and served 7 years in prison having just been released literally months before this training. While inside, Chadwin had a personal transformation, and wrote a letter to the Mother of his victim. It was a 17-page letter detailing how he had killed this woman's son, his apology, his remorse, and his desire to meet the Mother when he was released from prison. Upon his release he attempted to visit the Mother of his victim but because her home was located in "enemy" gang territory he was denied the opportunity to meet with her. This had been a deeply disappointing - the reconciliation he had dreamed of in prison was denied him.
So, when Chadwin stepped into the training workshop he heard a language he had never had words for - a narrative that described his circumstances, his emotions and his longings for a restored future. He shared how therapeutic this simulation had been for him and that he did not feel like he was "playing" a role, he felt he was the role. He found his script and his emotion inside himself, not from the external cues I had given him. As a result, Chadwin was able to start to put this shameful violence behind him, to begin to heal his trauma, and for the first time re-integrate meaning in his world. This was not a coincidence - this was a Divine moment - a serendipitous happening meant to function as a turning point in Chadwin's life and we the community played a pivotal role in this process.
So what does this story tell us? Transformative education comes through experience. It wasn't until Chadwin had the opportunity to act out his reality in "real-time" that he truly understood what he had always imagined reconciliation to be.
This kind of transformative education has become synonymous with the Caux Scholars Program experience. We expect no less in 2012!
* Name changed to protect identity.
Caux had a lasting influence
by Christie Shresthafrom the USA (CSP '04)
As a recent graduate, I thought my goal in life was set. I was going to pursue graduate studies in public health and then continue onto medicine. Little did I expect that a few weeks at Caux, Switzerland, would have a lasting influence in my life. Looking back I now see that the early exposure at Caux to the critical world political issues laid the foundation for my interest in humanitarianism, human rights, and social justice related issues.
Post-Caux, my quest to understand social inequalities and social justice issues continued as I obtained a Master's degree in Public Health from George Washington University. During my MPH years in Washington, DC, I worked for different humanitarian organizations. I remember wondering how different the world would be if it reflected even a tiny bit like Caux- where people from all walks of life recognized and accepted one another's differences and where two opposing groups could come together in a dialogue for the sake of greater human good.
It was important for me not to lose hope, which was why I went back to Caux as an intern in the summer of 2008. Attending the various conferences/workshops, such as leadership building and tools for change, reinvigorated my passion on these issues.
My interest in deciphering the complex social issues led me to pursue MA/PhD in Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. My MA thesis focused on issues of resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in Kentucky. UNHCR published an abridged version of my thesis in their "New Refugee Research Series." The ethnographic study of Bhutanese refugees gave me a glimpse of the atrocities of war and conflict, the grave human rights abuses suffered by the refugees, the psychosocial and logistical challenges of picking up one's life and moving forward, and the overall impact on displaced population.
As I became more interested in the application of anthropological theories than the theoretical/academic part of it, I returned to my country of origin as a short-term consultant for International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). At the ICTJ Nepal office, I worked closely on policy level issues on Nepal's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) bill in the post-Maoist context. Particularly, I drafted a brief policy relevant report on the issue of gender and sexual based violence during the ten-year Maoist conflict. During the write-up of this report, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the women, who had been victimized during the Maoist conflict and whose stigmatization persisted in their communities. One part of ICTJ's objective is to provide a safe space for dialogues between victims groups, the government officials, International human rights' organizations, and local NGOs and civic societies of Nepal. Being exposed to the tools for change at Caux, I understood the critical role these dialogues among stakeholders play in the transitional justice processes as they relate to the broader context of conflict transformation, reconciliation and reparation (i.e. acknowledging human rights violations), and peace building.
Currently, I live in Paris, France and am looking for opportunities in the area of social justice issues, within the fields of humanitarianism, refugee-related issues, gender-based issues, social inequities.
Last year's CSP was truly transformational for me on many different levels. The group of scholars assembled, combined with the stellar guest lecturers and the favorite-uncle-like guidance of Carl Stauffer, did wonders for my absorption of the information offered. At the conclusion of the program, I informed my fellow scholars that I had no intentions of 'leaving' the Mountain of Caux. I intended to live like I was still at Caux with the excitement of being able to make a difference present in all my interactions.
Being selected as the CSP assistant has rejuvenated this goal and offered me an opportunity to contribute directly to the work of IofC which I consider to be an indispensable service to humanity. As I prepare the incoming scholars for the special opportunity that awaits them this summer I find myself in a particularly reflective mood. I know that like most of last year's scholars, I was apprehensive and unsure of what to expect at the beginning of the program and I write the following in hopes of allaying such uneasiness in you, the incoming scholars, and give you an idea of what to look forward to.
I expect nothing short of a transformational experience for all of you this summer and this is primarily because of the unique experiences and expertise you bring to the table. An observation made by a scholar was that we would have considered our summer well spent if we had gone anywhere in the world and spent a month with each other. I fully expect this sentiment to be true of past scholars and definitely for this year's group.
The venue of the Mountain House with all its history and beauty and the invaluable guidance of the CSP faculty and staff, whose ultimate goal is to ensure a smooth and rewarding learning process, will only make your experience richer. As I introduce you to each other on our Facebook page and highlight your incredible achievements and experiences, I am sure that some of you are awed and perhaps a bit intimidated by your colleagues, just as I was last year. This is an appropriate reaction as I consider each of you an all-star with the potential to greatly contribute to humanity's peace
Like all group interactions, you will go through the phases of forming a community by forming, norming and even storming. You are a diverse and talented group of scholars who will learn from each other while forging bonds of friendship that will last a life time.
The following is a typical day spent at Caux. I look forward to an early morning jog, usually accompanied by another scholar or two. This is followed by some work in the rose gardens or picking blue berries. Gardening was my preferred service contribution to the operation of Mountain House but there are many other ways to contribute including kitchen help, dish washing and dining room service. I love the outdoors and gardening offered me the opportunity to process the vast amount of input I was receiving from my surrounding. This is followed by breakfast, morning class session, lunch, an afternoon session and then dinner. There is ample of time between dinner and any evening program to do some hiking, soccer, tennis, table tennis, Frisbee and the like. There is definitely no possibility of being bored! Each week brings about new possibilities in the likes of a jazz festival, the forum for human security conference and a menu of various other exciting things to partake of.
Rest assured that you are poised for a truly inspiring experience and you will climb down from the Mountain a transformed and reinvigorated individual. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I try to make a mantra.
"...All effort and exertion put forth by man(/woman) from the fullness of his(/her) heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity..." (Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, pp. 176-177)
Forgiveness as a gift
by Sonali Samarasinghe from Sri Lanka (CSP '96) Remarks at the Swiss Embassy Caux Scholars Reception
Three years ago my world fell apart. My colleague and husband was killed just two months after we were married. I was compelled to flee my country due to threats to my life. As a result I lost my job, my home, my friends and my family was torn apart.
Emotionally and viscerally pummeled and numb with shock, I could have crumbled and withered. What kept me going was my faith, and the grounding I had received throughout the years from the IofC network and the wonderful support of friends like Randy Ruffin and others.
So CSP is not merely a four week academic course in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Caux, Switzerland. It is also a life-changing experience as much as it creates life long bonds with special people.
It was because I had been infused with these ideals that I was able to press on, and to do so, with (I hope) dignity and compassion. When two British journalists asked me in two separate interviews, "Do you seek revenge?" I could genuinely say "No."
It is because of what I know to be true about conflict transformation, reconciliation and justice, infused in me through the years, because of CSP and IofC, that when many call for regime change in my own country Sri Lanka - I also see as an alternative, perhaps of changing the hearts and minds of those who are now in power.
One of the most profound moments of my life was at an IofC conference where Ginn Fourie, a South African woman who lost her only daughter, Lyndi, in an attack on a Cape Town restaurant in 1993, and a black freedom fighter, Letlapa Mphahlele who ordered the attack; spoke of their own journey of healing, trust building and reconciliation.
Though a part of her was angry, Fourie had agreed to meet Mphahlele, and it changed his life. It moved him more than anything else could. He says as quoted in an article "I saw in her somebody willing to listen. Freedom of conscience, of spirit, was elusive, but her acceptance struck a chord in me. I felt my humanity was restored."
How powerful that is!
He says, "I did not ask for forgiveness, but she forgave me," "It was the most important gift that one can receive from another human being."
Fourie in turn asked forgiveness from him on behalf of herself and her ancestors for the 350 years of oppression, slavery, colonization and apartheid.
To me this story and others like it must become the cornerstone for reconciliation in my own country. Sri Lanka is now wallowing in bitterness, sullenness, anger, and allegations of war crimes, unsolved murders, botched investigations. While the rule of law and due process must be restored, while the culture of impunity must stop, while press freedom must return, while there must be accountability and justice: I sincerely believe that if ever there was a time to forgive each other, then this time is that time. We must weep together for our past mistakes, but we need to work together for the future of our children. As Mphahlele said, "Forgiveness is the most important gift we can give each other."
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.
Funds are needed each year to provide scholarship help for those with need. No gift is too large or too small.
Please make a donation on the website
2012 Caux Scholars
Winnifred Arthur is from Ghana but grew up in Botswana. She is currently studying Economics and Political Science with a minor in Chinese at Berea College, Kentucky, USA. She, along with four other students, has developed a financial literacy program for college students as a research project.
Juliette Baldwin is from London, England. She graduated from St. Mary's University College, London, in Psychology and Philosophy in 2011. She is currently working in Sierra Leone supporting local organizations in the promotion of youth and women's rights. She has backpacked through Southeast Asia and Europe, and worked in an orphanage in Ghana.
Marine Begault is a Belgian living in London, England. She is currently enrolled at the University of Manchester, in the UK, where she is projected to graduate with 1st Class Honors in Politics and modern History. She is very athletic and was captain of both her football and basketball teams.
Eliana Pilar Jimeno Carpintero is from Colombia and is working towards a Master's degree in the Peace and Conflict Resolution Program at American University with a concentration in Reconciliation. She received the Hall of the Nation's Award in April 2011 from American University. She is a Fulbright - Saldarriaga Concha Scholar 2011-2013 and was also a Colfuturo scholar in Colombia in June 2011.
Alisha Harris is an American from Virginia. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Education Program with a focus on school counseling at Virginia State University. She is a former active member of the NAACP and volunteers in an organization that connects the homeless to local community services.
Shannon Heesacker is an American who graduated this May from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, with a double major in French and International Studies, with a concentration on Europe. She was awarded the International Studies Outstanding student of the Year 2012. And as the Martha Page Scholar in 2010 she enjoyed 7 weeks of French immersion at the University of Laval, Quebec.
Hoang Le Danh is from Vietnam. He is a self-employed businessman who graduated in International Commerce from the Foreign Trade University, Ho Chi Minh City Branch, in 2005. He has a niche business that creates bird nests for famous soups. He wants to climb every high mountain on earth, enjoys ballroom dancing, and "likes to describe people and life through the camera's lens."
Hagar Ibrahim is an Egyptian studying for her Master's in Euro-Mediterranean Relations at Universidad Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. She made the observation that "After 30 years of dictatorship, corruption and injustice, Egyptians still have to fight for years to come to regain their freedom. This transitional period is a critical period that witnesses a lot of turbulence and ongoing struggle that sometimes causes us to lose our enthusiasm."
Amir Kamergi is from Tunisia. He is a Fulbright Scholar studying teaching pedagogies, technology in education, American foreign policy, English and Spanish at John Hopkins University, Washington, DC. He is a skillful guitar player and has started playing the piano.
Janet Kurui is from Eldoret, Kenya. Janet received her Law degree in 2004 from the Kenya University of Law. Janet currently works with the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, funded by the German government, where she is Program Director in charge of Transitional Justice, the Women's Program and Litigation. She was presented the Dr. Michael Cassidy Peace Award in Johannesburg, South Africa, for her work in peacebuilding.
Johannes Langer is from Austria. He obtained a Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University, Washington DC, USA. He has written several articles which include 'The Responsibility to Protect: Kenya's Post-Electoral Crisis' in Journal of International Service, 'The Need to Recognize Kosovo' in The New Federalist, and 'Zimbabwe: The Agreement Will Not Help' in The New Federalist. He has also published a book Current Discourses on the Holocaust in Lithuania: The Impact of Collective Memory.
Lucy Linder is from Switzerland and graduated Suma Cum Laude from Neuchatel University, Switzerland. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Information Systems from the University of Freibourg, Switzerland. She participated as a Caux intern last year and followed her Caux intern experience by participating in the Action for Life seminar hosted by IofC in Baranivka, Ukraine.
Ismail Modawiy is from the Blue Nile region of Sudan. He graduated from Juba University with a Master's Degree in Humanitarians & Conflicts studies and has a Bachelor of Law Degree from Khartoum University. Ismail has a Bar Association license to practice Law and has also acquired a High Diploma in Human Rights from Khartoum University.
Tashi Nyima is from Tibet but grew up in India. He graduated from St. Joseph College in Bangalore in computer science and has worked as a software engineer until 2011 when he was awarded a full scholarship to do a MBA at London Metropolitan University. In 2006 he attended a youth conference in the IofC center in Panchgani, which was a "turning point" in his life and resulted in his participating in this year's CSP.
Amber J. Ramsey is an American who graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Relations. She is an Editor/Knowledge Manager at NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) in Norfolk, Virginia. She has also worked in disaster relief projects in Dakar, Senegal.
Singmila Shimrah is from India and is currently a Fulbright-Nehru MS fellow at the School of Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University, Washington DC, USA. She graduated from the University of Delhi in Social Work and obtained a Masters in Social Work in 2007, also from the University of Delhi. She has worked with the Naga Women's Union and Northeast India Indigenous Women's Forum. She also worked with the Campaign Against Female Foeticide in Northern India.
Sai Thiha is from the Shan region in Myanmar(Burma), which is three hours from the Thai-Myanmar border areas where civilians suffered from the armed conflicts. He had worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), operating in conflict areas in Myanmar. He is currently studying at Berea College in the USA.
Ilijana Todorovic is a scholar athlete from Bosnia. She is currently studying and playing basketball at State University of New York at Canton. She was bestowed the incredible title of Best Athlete of the Generation (June 2005)! She explains that "I would like progress to flow through the veins of Bosnia again and shape its body accordingly."
Nikhil Vazirani is from Mumbai, India. He has studied in Germany and is currently an engineering degree in London, UK. He explains his connection with IofC thus "My father was involved with IofC since his youth and to this day continues to be a part of the organization that has helped him become the human being he is."
Mohammadou Sopse Umarou Yayah is from Cameroon. He graduated from the University of Yaounde II - Soa with a graduate degree in Political Science and works with IofC in Cameroon. He participated in the Harambee Africa 6 Conference in Nigeria.