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« If you cannot raise up your eyes, you will always think you are at the highest level »
This was the concluding sentence offered by one of the IHRTP participants in Thursday’s activity, human rights education and social change.
I was very kindly welcomed by Group 3, which has 13 participants, from 13 countries. I spent the morning with people from: Tanzania, Brazil, Vietnam, Libya, Kenya, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Uganda, Bangladesh, Nepal, Egypt, Armenia and Ukraine. (Honestly!! When is the last time that *that* happened to you!!!???).
The participants discussed the fact that change is going to happen whether we are planning for it or not, so how can they, as human rights educators, be best prepared for this and turn challenges into opportunities? Another important point raised was that social change is not just about improving the lives of marginalized groups, but also about changing attitudes and beliefs of everyone in society – including the power holders.
I have been privileged to have had the chance to participate in a number of IHRTP activities over the years, and I always leave so inspired and amazed by the sheer diversity of opinions and nationalities and people. A spirit exists among these amazing participants, one that unites them in spite of their differences. I think this is because at the end of the day, they are all working towards a common goal – making our world a better place, and their diversity, together with their openness, allows a richness of discussion and learning that is unparalleled.
What I find so marvellous about the program is its approach. At Equitas, we talk a lot about ‘participatory methodology’ which is a long jargony expression. But you truly have to experience it to understand its power. The IHRTP – and all of our training – follows this approach and what it means is that it’s the participants themselves who bring the training to life. The facilitator puts the issues in a framework, but it’s the participants who are the depth and richness and ‘meat’ of the program. They present and sing and draw and act in an ongoing creative process of learning that is second to none.
If you ask me, if there’s anything that leads to social change, it’s Equitas’ IHRTP.