Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO and LAU hold a seminar on "Intercultural Dialogue Competences"



UNESCO and the Lebanese American University in Beirut (LAU) concluded today a seminar on "Intercultural Dialogue Competences" - a new accredited course designed by UNESCO Beirut in the framework of "HAWER - King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Programme for a Culture of Peace and Dialogue", and in cooperation with the "Leaders for Democracy" (LDF) - fellowship Arabic programme.

Held in UNESCO office in Beirut from 17 to 19 March 2015, the seminar introduced 20 students and young civil society leaders from 10 Arab states to concepts and approaches of Intercultural Dialogue.

"This new course allows students to evolve with ease and flexibility in a culturally diverse and challenging environment, while it also provides them with technical skills and strategic competencies to enable the youth generation of making a wider impact considering their active roles within the civil society", stated UNESCO Programme manager Maysoun Chehab.

Facilitated by UNESCO Advisor and former Minister of Social Affairs in Lebanon Dr. Selim Al-Sayegh, the seminar focused on enhancing participants' Communication and Dialogue Skills; critical inquiry and problem solving; while it provides them with a practical approach in terms of perspectives and experiences so that the acquired skills could be adapted to real life situations.

"This programme aims to prepare and help develop the leadership capacities of young Arab Leaders to confront new and emerging political challenges in their region", stressed LDF programme coordinator Dr. Imad Salamey. "It provides both academic and practical skills in promoting reforms through consensus building, conflict resolution, and constructive dialogue within diversities", added Dr. Salamey.

Participants also highlighted the significance of this course, and the major change it had on their general perceptions.

"People tend to have certain stereotypes via other cultures, labeling other individuals before knowing them", stated Hussein from Kuwait. "This course changes the way we perceive diversity", he added.

Adel from Egypt also praised the impact of this course, considering that "after this short experience, I realized that, when cherished and righteously invested, cultural diversity represents a major social and economic asset as it promotes constructive competition. It is somehow complementary".

Since 2012, "King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Programme for a Culture of Peace and Dialogue" proved to be a flagship and timely initiative with concrete impact on promoting cultural dialogue and diversity. Through this programme, tools and guidelines to assist Member States in the revision of textbooks and curricula free from gender, cultural or religious stereotypes were elaborated. The Programme also offers a platform on which young journalists, graduate and postgraduate diplomas in universities in the Arab States youth could share their vision on culture of peace and dialogue, involving international conferences, contests and capacity building workshops.

The MEPI Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) Arabic project provides for ten weeks of study and professional experience in Lebanon for 20-25 young civic leaders from across the Arab region. The project includes academic coursework in Arabic at the Lebanese American University, where fellows focus on the concepts of leadership, democracy, communication, and conflict resolution, before engaging in a six-week professional assignment with Lebanese civil society institutions and organizations.