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Creators of Peace in Romania

Friday, 10. December 2010
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Peace is: (by Alina Stavila)

Perfect time for reflection
Earning a time for myself
A lot of smiles, a lot of sharing special things
Creating a special ambiance and feelings
Evaluating the world problems, the people problems and finding a solution.

Friday 25 November 2010. Shabibi Shah, and Su Riddell from Great Britain have travelled to Romania, to help Diana Damsa prepare a residential weekend Creators of Peace Circle. From Diana’s flat in Baia Mare, we drink tea, pool ideas, and watch big flakes of snow fall outside. Even the weather is joining in unifying the far corners of Europe, as it is also snowing back in Britain.

Left to right, Christina, Simona, Olimpia, Alina, Shabibi (Photo: Diana Damsa)We drive to the countryside, to a chalet surrounded by wooded hills, orchards, bulbous Romania haystacks, and the scent of wood smoke in the air. Our 10 participants arrive from work, or studying, ready to start after a cup of rosehip tea.

We introduce ourselves and deliberate the factors which will create safe space in which we can talk and share together. We are quickly agreed on basics, such as respect, listening and turning off mobiles. A lot of this group are teachers; maybe that is why they are so good at this! We start to discover one another, and our own images of peace. Soon we are on to the more practical details of a peaceful society, having our basic needs met for security, employment, healthcare, etc. Now we are finding out how our friends see the world, and its needs. Cristina Eni, who has travelled overnight on a bus from neighbouring Moldova to be here, writes, “I thought immediately of the peace across the world; of what disturbs the peace; of what is peace for me. But I did not think of my own peace. And now it makes perfect sense for me – peace comes from within. It starts from knowing yourself. Finding your inner peace through looking at your life from a perspective of values: love, honesty, purity and unselfishness. Taking out of yourself of all the anger and hate by forgiving. Learning from life’s lessons.”

Group collage on peace (Photo: Diana Damsa)Over the following Saturday and Sunday we follow the Peace Circle process, noting concerns, on every level from the personal to worldwide. We keep note of those we can influence, at least in some small way, as we explore different elements of becoming a creator of peace: listening well to others, inner listening, using values to filter our decisions, and the need for forgiveness of ourselves and others. Tipped off that Romanians have a tendency to interrupt a lot, we spend time on listening skills. Gabi Sebestyen writes, “The concept of ‘peace’ got so many different and deep meanings for me this weekend. I think I am aware that I have to educate my listening ability and to try to have a more opened mind about other people’s problems and their point of view on the matter.”

Sunday breakfast (Photo: Diana Damsa)At the end of the weekend we spend time reconsidering our concerns, and thinking of future steps we can take, however small, to do something positive about them. As everyone is working in small groups to discuss this last point (which all happens in Romanian) it is hard to report any outcome. We hear that one group had a lively discussion about what they would like to change in the school in which several of them work.

One of the participants, Simona Torotcoi, is a member of the Roma community, and early in the session, not realising this, another participant made a generalised comment about her people. Later this participant made a spontaneous, full apology. Asked for her evaluation of the weekend, Simona writes,

Simona, Dana and Paula (Photo: Diana Damsa)“Dear friends of the ‘Peace Creators’ I would like you to know that this action made me (Simona – a Roma girl) not to be any more selfish in my life. Here I realised that I have an inner power that I can do more than I thought, that I am the ONE from who things may begin to change and improve. I found out that I can be more closer with people around the world even if there is a big distance and that doing something good to people around the world brings me power and the more I help the others the more power and inner peace I get. I hope I will make my people, Roma people, to prove themselves and to the people around them that we deserve that people should look at us with other eyes and to accept us as we are.”

Monday 28 November. Sitting once more in Diana’s flat, we are writing this report. We are multitasking: Shabibi is knitting, Su is typing, and Diana is cooking us supper. We are also cooking up ideas for how to stay in touch. The talk is of who would benefit from visiting Caux (the IofC international conference centre in Switzerland), of fundraising through Afghan food, and Diana’s future Creators of Peace Circle plans. Shabibi sums up her time in Romania, “I am not much of a traveller and my health is not good. I really enjoyed Diana’s Mum and dog, and seeing a different lifestyle.

Monica, Shabibi and Cristina (Photo: Su Riddell)“The Peace Circle is a moment for me that takes me to a higher level of thinking. In everyday life you are preoccupied with life, cooking, shopping, money, getting out. I enjoy the Peace Circle because I don’t think about everyday life and my thinking is on a very positive and high level (which normally doesn’t happen.) The group were very friendly and spoke all in English and expressed themselves fully. They trusted us, to share with us. Of course at the beginning they were nervous and when I shared my story they gained trust. Most of us don’t trust. At least they will go away at peace with themselves. We gave food for thought to this group. We managed to explain what is ‘peace’ and it went deep down in everyone’s heart. In these three days if nothing else, we gave something to think about.”

The last word should go to another participant, Olimpia Pop: “We are all perfect in our own way because our life experiences make us more human and they help us understand there is no sad ending. We can transform the ugliest thing into a precious diamond through understanding, love and continuous battling.”