By: Rondell Gulston
The Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network‘s (CYPAN) vision for the Faith in the Commonwealth Youth Training of Trainers (YTOT) programme was Respect & Understanding, and Youth Empowerment. Despite the simplicity of these words, we got to appreciate further the importance of these powerful words and how often we take them for granted. As a developing and youth-centred organization, we need to constantly remind ourselves that whilst focusing on the bigger picture we must take give time to the smaller endeavours. Just as the ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into the water, so do our actions as little as it may seem will forever affect the outcome we desire. Thus, in being conscious of who we are and taking time to sincerely connect with others, we can literally give ourselves the tools to be empowered.
Being the 2nd country to host this programme, Damian Clarke and I (ScoutsTT representatives) along with 27 other participants, were given the opportunity to not only engage in this training but also be its evaluators and, at one point, even its facilitators. This allowed us to give our personal contributions to the programme and we were better equipped with the skills we were intended to gain. With the focus being on interfaith and intercultural dialogue, we were challenged with encouraging peaceful coexistence by being aware of different needs for peace, through people’s similarities and differences. The participants involved came from Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, which was valuable as it gave an opportunity for regional relationship and shared wealth of ideas and concepts aimed at the betterment of the Caribbean.
In between the days of committed training, we were able to understand the importance of building bonds with the people we would be spending time with for those few days. We also had great respect for the location chosen for the workshop, as we were in our capital and minutes away from the infamous Movie Towne. Due to these great circumstances, Damian and I were both empowered to showcase our culture and common pastimes which one can enjoy as a Trinidadian. One task we had to ensure and undergo, was educating our Caribbean friends in the art of eating a doubles, the ‘to dos’ and the ‘not to dos’.
This opportunity was one also of networking, as we got to engage with NGO representatives and even individual-represented persons who also have the goal of creating a better way in their own unique ways. Some NGOs like CYPAN and 2 Cents Movement, which are known for having a positive impact on our communities and also being youth driven, are connections which can be beneficial to both scouting and Trinidad and Tobago. At the ‘Marketplace’, which is a space created to ‘sell’ different projects and ideas to persons, we were given the great opportunity to collaborate with another NGO in an endeavour focusing on different aspects of sustainable development. Another concept used was the ‘World Café’, which created multiple simultaneous topics for quick discussion and reflection, for the purpose of moving between different issues and seeing how they are connected. These activities and others done during this programme showed the presence of engaging, fun ways in getting people to interact and learn about themselves, people and issues surrounding them.
This experience was most influential because of its realization and motto that there is more similarities than differences. There is much more for us to celebrate as people than there is to dispute, because of our differences in race, gender, faith and culture. It is up to us to obtain the knowledge intended to understand and respect each other.