Something for Your Holiday Menu…

Dear Friends,

I’m sure you’ve seen accounts of people canceling their family Thanksgiving—or at least, thinking about it. While family gatherings can sometimes include tension and conflicts, it’s particularly hard for divided families and friends who found themselves on opposite sides of our acrimonious and divisive election.

So the question now is how can we celebrate one another and begin anew the process of living respectfully with our differences, rather than fearing them? In addition to simply making the commitment, this Thanksgiving you can:

  • Share The Golden Rule: Begin dinner with the Golden Rule. It is a universal tenet shared by all traditions. Consider printing it, passing it around, and letting each guest read the words of respect and caring for others that come from so many different beliefs. It can be a moment of sharing and a reminder that can help set the tone for the evening and lay the foundation for healthy conversation.
  • Beware of Words that Inflame: Watch out for the words that inflame. Want to talk about Muslims? Immigrants? Jewish people? Christians? Evangelicals? Women? Race? Sexual orientation? Talk about a person but not “them.” Stay away from words like “all,” “none,” “always,” and “never.” And don’t say, “those people.”
  • Listen: My mother used to say I had two ears and one mouth for a reason. Take time to listen fully before responding. Resources, like this New York Times article, are sprouting up everywhere, reminding us that we can – and should – engage in civil, rational, fact-based discourse. What better time than Thanksgiving?

We wish you a meaningful holiday and invite you to use this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to all people and all Americans.

Joyce S. Dubensky,
Tanenbaum CEO

Bringing Peace Education to Zones of Armed Conflict

In late 2012 and early 2013, Tanenbaum used world-shrinking technology to work with our Peacemakers in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. With their help, we trained 55 local school teachers in multicultural education principles that encourage openness to differences. Tanenbaum created culturally adapted??, — and reusable — educational materials, while our Peacemakers Jacky Manuputty (Indonesia), Jamila Afghani (Afghanistan), and Imam Muhammed Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye (Nigeria), coordinated local educators.

Involved teachers and principals have clamored for more training.

We spoke with each of the Peacemakers about the long-term impact of these trainings.

Jamila described what happened in Kabul:

"One of the teachers that received the training is my son’s teacher. She is from a different ethnic group and, before the training, bullied my son and others from our ethnic group. Now, my son says the teacher is very different – kind and caring. Now he is enjoying learning; going to school. Before, he was crying when he had to go to school. But now he insists on going to school, even on days where there are security issues and it’s not safe to be out on the street. These days he cries when he can’t go to school.

"After the training with Tanenbaum, I received calls from three principals. They said the training, although outside of official program, was very good and had very much changed the teachers who participated. The principals saw that the training recipients are now spreading concepts of respect inside the school with other teachers and students. This has had a very good impact on the whole environment of the schools. One of the principals requested such a training for the rest of the teachers. It seems everyone has become interested to join such a training.

"And now, I plan to have trainings with the teachers of these three schools.

"If you do a little bit of sparkling in Afghanistan, everybody rushes towards that. After people heard about the training, I received many requests from many other schools and teachers. I was feeling bad that I only had one Tanenbaum training. It was like I brought a great sparkling and now there is big demand. Unfortunately, I cannot bring the training to everyone."

This wide-scale impact was not limited to the Afghani teachers.

In Nigeria, the principal of a government secondary school, Ms. Mairo Bello, thanked Muhammad Ashafa for bringing the training. She told him that now, she is working to set up a school-wide unit that will facilitate the concept of appreciating diversity throughout the school.

And in Indonesia, some of the training participants invited Jacky Manuputty and his team to replicate the training for everyone in their schools. Thus far, Jacky has conducted four more trainings, reaching another 50 Indonesian educators (evenly split between Muslim and Christian teachers). Meanwhile, more and more schools are calling – keeping Jacky busy.

We created the program to introduce Tanenbaum’s peace and multicultural education program to educators in three conflict zones where differences, including those based on religion and race, is a source of tension.

We have met and arguably exceeded our initial goal. But there is so much more to do.