Peace and Disarmament
SGI-New Zealand Youth Attend "Victory Over Violence" Facilitators Training Course
Victory Over Violence Aotearoa (VOV Aotearoa) is a youth-driven initiative to help young people identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives and their communities with a broader purpose of creating sustainable non-violent cultures within schools and the wider community. "Aotearoa" is the Maori name for New Zealand (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand).
On January 27 and 28, 2007, 70 youth, including several guests, participated in a VOV Aotearoa National Facilitators Training Course in Raglan, situated on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.
A core activity of VOV Aotearoa is holding workshops in high schools. Reporoa College, located in a small rural town near Rotorua, was the first school in New Zealand to host VOV Aotearoa workshops. The SGI-New Zealand VOV team has held five such seminars at the school, which has supported and collaborated in their development. In 2007, the SGI-New Zealand youth will take VOV Aotearoa to a total of eight schools in New Zealand's four main cities of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.
The recent VOV training course coached facilitators for workshops on raising awareness of passive violence and how it can give rise to physical violence. As Gandhi stated: "It is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence...[and] in order to stop physical violence we have cut off the fuel supply."
During the course, participants discussed passive violence, including personal experiences of the effects of passive violence. They also received training from professionals on presentation and facilitation skills, working with teenagers, and classroom management. Together with these practical skills, the participants role-played VOV exercises they will use in the classroom. These included active listening, giving and receiving compliments and other activities that break down stereotypes and get students talking to classmates they wouldn't normally approach. By the end of the course, participants reported they were eager to begin applying the VOV training they received in a real classroom setting.
Raglan, the site of the VOV Aotearoa training course, has historic significance. The land was used by the New Zealand government as an air strip during World War II. It was finally returned to the Tainui hapu, the local Maori people, following non-violent protests many years later.
Melanie Gregg, course organizer, hopes to promote the VOV workshops to many more high schools and to help students recognize the dignity of life, realize their own inherent potential, and embrace the three mottoes of VOV, which are:
- I will value my own life
- I will respect all life
- I will inspire hope and courage in others
Ms. Gregg says the philosophy behind VOV Aotearoa, which is a counterpart to the VOV program first launched by SGI-USA, is deeply inspired and encapsulated in the following quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda:
"Be the change you wish to see in the world"--Mahatma Gandhi
"A great revolution of character in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society, and further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind."--Daisaku Ikeda
[Adapted from a report from Melanie Gregg of SGI-New Zealand and an article in the February 17, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]