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Spring Arrives Early in Tripoli This Year

Spring Arrives Early in Tripoli This Year
Just a few weeks from the beginning of spring, the students at al-Nour Intermediate Public School were burgeoning with ideas about peace education and non-violence in the school environment.

The UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project has been active in Tripoli, North Lebanon, and its neighboring areas through its Violence-Free Schools (VFS) initiative, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, and with funds from Germany and technical support from Center for Active Citizenship and for Development (CAC).

The al-Nour Intermediate Public School is one of 15 schools selected by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project to integrate peace-building concepts into the school environment. The project aims at sensitizing the school community (teachers, parents, students and school staff) to nonviolence so that they come up with codes of conduct for nonviolence and identify related activities.

As a result, on March 1, 2018, the al-Nour School, located at the entrance to el-Mina, or the “City of Waves”, in Tripoli, witnessed a flourishing day, full of excitement and passion. The three students Mouhannad, Taha, and Maram conducted a small peace-building tour for 4th graders.

With the help of their teachers, Ms. Huda El Zeini and Ms. Amal Hleihel, the group prepared, acted and edited short movies ‘re-enacting’ instances of violence identified at their school and presenting simple ways to avoid them.

“Whether it was pushing each other on the stairs during recess, or using bad word at someone,’ said Maram during her presentation, “Anything that bothers other people is violence.”

The group was innovative in its approach. By showing their classmates examples from everyday life at school, they made their presentation more powerful and impactful. Other students were moved. They laughed at what they saw, and they were able to easily reason and connect with it.

“Our students need this initiative,” said teacher and coordinator Huda El Zeini. “I tried to help my students voice out their ideas through interactive short videos. The videos were at once entertaining and educational. Because of their easy content, they made an impact on the students and we can already sense a difference.”

The presentations were followed by short discussions with the class, facilitated by the teachers. The group was keen on advocating for a culture of respect of the “other” inside and outside the school.

After the presentation, 13-year-old Mouhannad shared his thoughts. “You should go see the classes that have seen our presentation. They all changed their behaviors,” he said. “They are all calmer and more respectful towards each other and towards their teachers. When we as students, told our colleagues that violence is bad, they accepted the comment. Because we’re all kids. We understand each other.”

Taha, who is also a passionate member of the group, explained: “I am setting an example to my friends. Avoiding violence and being a role model to others helps them do the same.”

“My role is not only academic at this school. I believe that like a mother, I have a role in guiding and educating the students. I care about them being successful individuals when they grow up. This is what keeps me involved in the Violence-Free Schools initiative,” said Amal Hleihel at the end of the day.

The school is expected to host a fair to promote non-violence on March 28, 2018, thus ending the month as it started it, welcoming a peaceful spring!