August 12th 2015 marked UN International Youth Day. This important date fell in the middle of an international volunteer project hosted by ‘Wales for Peace’ and UNA Exchange in Cardiff. The two week ‘Peace Garden’ project brought 12 international volunteers to Cardiff to work on the Peace Garden at the Temple of Peace, our home base, as well as undertaking work on other community projects such as decorating the Cathays Community Centre, the gardens of Cardiff Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre and working with refugees and asylum seekers at the Trinity Centre.
The idea of the day was to bring young people from each of the partner projects together to reflect on the nature of peace, what it means for young people and how they can work to promote peace day to day. This idea was further supported by the Wales for Peace project and Raising Peace.
A total of 31 participants took part in the day. As well as the international volunteers from Italy, France, Japan, Korea, Spain and Greece, we were joined by refugees and asylum seekers, young people with a range of special needs and members or the Cardiff Armenian community. Activities included ice breaking games, exploring definitions of peace and identifying what was and what was not peace, notions of positive peace eg strong communities and negative peace eg not war. We explored academic ideas of peace using the ‘peace Index’ and discussed countries that were considered peaceful or not peaceful. We explored the idea of inner peace with the Cardiff Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre and shared a simple lunch followed by a garden party in the evening.
All involved gained a great deal from the experience not just the fun activities but also spending time with diverse groups, investigating the true meaning for familiar ideas and thinking about the experience of peace for others around the world, exploring inner peace and learning new skills to improve relaxation and enjoying international food and music. Most of all we all felt we were promoting peace and intercultural understanding by learning, sharing and relaxing together. Already looking forward to next year!