Peace and conflict studies from the local point of view
Pranjal Tiwari is one of the local students following the peace and conflict studies course this semester. Already halfway into the semester he has decided he wants to go on to a master in Peace Studies.
Pranjal had finished his Bachelor's Degree in Global Studies and Political Science at the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education (SAICE) before he started his Peace and Conflict studies with Kulturstudier. As a local Pondicherry student he has the curious experience of welcoming international teachers and students to his home town and historical and cultural setting.
- I was looking to expand my horizons and Kulturstudier seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do so. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what I would pursue in my Masters, I was in a dilemma until a couple of weeks into the course when I made up my mind that I will pursue Peace Studies. It will combine my need to be involved in practical and real work, in current conflicts as well as give me a learning experience about peace building and conflict resolution in different contexts and different cultural settings. My fascination with cultures, in this way, could continue and I could, as a future peace worker, contribute to bring about positive peace or strive towards this meaningful goal. So this semester with Kulturstudier is and will be crucial for my formative experience. What I appreciate most about this course is the openness and willingness of teachers and students to discuss and the passion the teachers transmit to the students, he says.
Field trips, group work and discussions are important parts of the academic semester, and the international professors and peace scholars develop an engaged relationship with the students. The experience of studying with class mates from the other side of the world can also be an eyeopener in itself.
- My first impression of Scandinavian students has been positive. I knew little about the first world countries, which boasts of the best education systems and highly developed societies. I expected them to be fussy and arrogant since the setting in India would be very different. But most of them, if not all, are open-minded and positive about adjusting and adapting, qualities that are essential if humanity is to progress forward. Elasticity and flexibility are going to be key factors, if we truly are to have human unity, Pranjal says.
Every semester a new group of Scandinavian students travel to Pondicherry with Kulturstudier, a stay that potentially influence not only the students themselves but also the local society they interact with.
- The city is enriched by tourists; there is an exchange that benefits the visitors as well as the visited. The students are avid explorers of good food and cultural activities which also gives me the opportunity to share my culture with them or join in their new experiences. This duration also gives them ample time to soak in my hometown and discover little things that people who are only here for a week or so would miss. Sometimes it is the little things that stay.
- India is a country of diversity, and where there is diversity there is bound to be some friction, some of it is healthy competition while some is undesirable. Peace studies provides a good opportunity not only to study theory but have real examples, concrete case studies where theory can be applied. India is at a point where there is great potential for her to grow as a nation, not only economically but towards a more harmonious society as well. This complex, but important problem of molding ourselves into a country that remains Indian in spirit but also assimilates the positive influences of the various countries around the world makes India fascinating for all those who wish to see her progress and contribute to building a better world, says Pranjal
He adds that India´s culture of peace also offer valuable lessons to the students.