What is hampering Peace? Are we overlooking a Phenomenon that could help Restore it?

A lot of times we tend to point out at poverty, economy and politics when we hear peace drifting away from a nation. I think we are overlooking a significant part which really builds peace or takes it away. Peace should be demonstrated by a person through his ability to interact with the world around him. A man usually learns to make friends from his early childhood unless he is treated with bad attitude or abused by the people around him. What later on hinders him from demonstrating peace is the lack of understanding about the differences with the people he interacts with and thinking from some other perspectives or perhaps for not knowing himself sufficiently! In order to foster a positive sense of appreciation and increase the understandability between people (be it intercultural or intracultural), they should be helped to be aware of better interaction and other ‘Soft Skills’ with others from a very early stage. If knowledge regarding Soft Skills is emphasized on more at schools and within families then there is a good chance of avoiding conflict at least in the long run in the following ways:

  • Better Communication Skills will mean that we will be able to relate to, listen to and empathize with others in more efficient ways. This will help us to understand the needs of others.
  • Cultural Intelligence will allow us to be more aware about the different types of cultures in our surrounding.
  • Emotional Intelligence will give us the chance to know about our emotions and to understand the emotions of the other people around us or those who are affected due to conflicts and act accordingly to bring about peace.

So we may think of how to inculcate these in the young minds in order to build up the attitude of establishing peace through activities and performances by fulfilling good environments and attitudes towards the young at schools and at home. We may want to do the following as they are within our capacity:

  • Encouraging youths to build networks across nations, with other youths from different cultures, religions and belief systems to develop cultural intelligence.
  • Motivating them to gain knowledge about the crises and conflicts in the other parts of the world, through extensive reading, watching videos and using social media.
  • Getting them involved in community work to learn how the others live lives and to think critically about these issues, what have caused them and how these can be overcome.
  • Encouraging them to take part in the extracurricular activities and sports in schools as it will equip them with transferable skills like resilience, team-work, empathy, communication, stress-management, etc.

So at the end of the day, it’s all in our hand, whether we opine Soft Skills to be essential for PEACE or not.

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Are you aware of Your Collaborative Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills?

Collaborative Problem Solving is a much appreciated way of doing things at the present time. This is because long gone are the times when we would be solving problems on our own sitting at the desk or visiting the fields. It’s true that we need to do a lot of background research, homeworks, etc. at the same time, but it is also true that we want to utilize a lot of different things and expertise from different backgrounds using multiple types of resources. For e.g. if we are managing a big event we need to bring in experts from PR and Communication, Financial and Business Development Teams, etc. It is the combined effort of the different people to bring in their resources (in terms of their knowledge, contacts, etc.) and produce the outcome (the event). But, how? Do you sit together at different intervals and discuss? How do you follow up? How do you analyze your own progress in line with that of the others and coordinate? What sort of Social Skills and Cognitive Skills do you need to have? 

To understand this concept the members of the ‘House of Volunteers’ at the University of Dhaka organized a workshop on Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills recently. It was interesting to have students from Bangladesh University of Science and Technology (BUET) and Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST) who also joined the session. The session also covered areas of Decision-Making Skills where they went through small case studies that helped them to analyze their everyday problems where they make similar errors.

At the present time employers look for your Collaborative Problem-Solving Skills, Decision-Making Skills, Critical Thinking and Analytical Approaches than only the CGPAs in your nicely presented CVs or Resumes. That is why it is so important to engage in club activities and other sorts of extra-curricular projects. These help you to develop your Team Building Skills, Collaborative Problem-Solving Skills and Decision-Making Skills. It was amazing how the Chairman, Dr. Mojib Uddin Ahmed and the Assistant Professor, Md. Kamrul Hassan of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management of University of Dhaka added their views about the importance of the topic and narrated stories of their life in line with the theme of the workshop as they graced the occasion by observing the session.

At the end of the workshop it was great to see the participants smiling and to find myself being a better problem-solver as I attempted to learn from the relevant stories of the guests and the invigorating approach of the learners that they displayed while learning!

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Perspectives can shape our Teaching Styles

Perspectives can be different. It does not necessarily mean that one person is right while the other is wrong. Sometimes, it is the end result that is important than how the job is done, as long as all the ethical factors are followed. The other day I was training the volunteers of “Leaping Boundaries”. I chose one of the paintings a friend, Liza Hasan, had made - a beautiful portrait. I asked the learners to take a moment to observe the portrait carefully and find out what attracts them the most. In other words they should look for the work in it that was the most beautiful in their eyes. They took a moment and pointed out. Then I asked them to reflect whether they should refute or go against their peers’ choices of the most attractive part. They realized that each person has different sense of beauty and that it can depend on their personality, taste and life-style. But the artist, while painting it took care of all the parts of it and made it one significant artwork. Each and every aspect of the portrait was important to the painter. 

It was actually a good idea to incorporate Liza’s artwork as a training material during the session. The display of her work on the projector screen let me describe the importance of respecting other teachers’ teaching styles for the same learner groups in simpler terms. It became easy to help the participants understand that they can all have different teaching styles which can suit their personalities. As long as the learners are learning efficiently and the needs are met their styles are fine. It even helps to create diversity in the classroom. When it comes to Language and Leadership Development Program for Madrasah Students we have to make sure that we are trying our best to teach students English Language, Soft Skills and Information and Communication Technology, whether we are following same teaching pedagogy or not. The art or the end product, that is our learners would be the result of all the different teaching methods that the different teachers applied. 

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Ice-breaking game
Group Activity
A group photo with ‘Liza’s Artwork’

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Soft Skills are as important as Hard Skills (Technical Skills) are

If you are a great web-developer, don’t you need to know how to build great teams to manage the new project that you have just signed? If you are a scientist, don’t you need to have good presentation skills? If you have are an activist, don’t you need to know how to build networks and use the social media effectively? 

You always need the Soft Skills (like Networking and Communication Skills, Team-Building and Collaboration, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills, etc.) to thrive in the field that you work in!