Together, we can go further for peace

Saad Karim, right, at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University

By Saad Karim, 2012 Rotary Peace Fellow, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

There is an African proverb that says “Alone we can run faster, but together we can go further,” also sometimes stated as “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.”

When I began the Rotary Peace Centers program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, I and my 21 classmates began the journey on separate paths, each with different, individual ideas about peace and conflict resolution. But the past three months have changed our outlook. We began to think about peace as more of a team. We came to Bangkok from nine countries, learned from each other, and the notion of accomplishing more together came to life.

Some of us began the program thinking of ourselves as the “real peace builders,” professionals serving on the frontlines — in war and post-conflict zones, as government policy influencers, and as non-profit movers and shakers. But our eyes have been opened to the notion that anyone can be a peace builder, if and when given the opportunity, guidance, and support.

Support is a necessity. The path toward peace is not always easy, and in the worst moments, you feel surrounded by darkness with little hope. That is precisely how I felt during the first few days of our field trip to Cambodia. The physical reminders of “The Killing Fields” hit me like a frontal assault. Repeatedly, my classmates and I asked “how could people let this happen?” It was hard to see Cambodia’s past and future as anything but bleak.

But then we met individual Cambodians, especially children and youth, who inspired us. We were motivated by local Rotarians working on sustainable development projects in the rural countryside. Through these exchanges, we were reminded how resilient people can be. We felt deeply the common desire, across cultures, to create a better future.

I can’t say that the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel was clearly evident. Cambodia, like most post-conflict countries, is a work in progress. But I came to think of the many individuals and groups we met as lighters of lanterns revealing paths that can lead to long-term prosperity. The more lanterns there are, the greater the potential for peace locally and globally.

I thank The Rotary Foundation for funding this great program, and all the Rotarians whose contributions make it possible. Your commitment to global peace and understanding are admirable.

8 thoughts on “Together, we can go further for peace

  1. Congratulations Saad on your Peace Fellow studies – you are a changed person already!
    Tomorrow at 6pm Windsor Ont Canada time the International Peace Walk @ twilight will begin
    and I hope we will be ” lighters of lanterns ” in the quest for Peace . Rotarians from US and Canada & our Community are asked to Stand Up for Peace and walk with us. The evening will end with with a powerful Peace Concert
    Please think of us tomorrow night – YIR and Peace – Joyce Jones, President – Rotary Club of Windsor – Roseland, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Look for picture on our Facebook page -

    Like

  2. Pingback: Together, we can go further for peace | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  3. Pingback: En el Dia Internacional de la Paz -21Set- un mensaje de “Voces de Rotary”… « Rotary Club de Lleida

  4. Great writing! As a Rotary Peace Fellow alumnus from ICU (2010-12), I agree 100%. I’m now working with the Japan ICU Foundation in New York City and continuing my involvement in Rotary International>>

    Like

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