26 luglio 2012

The first program in partnership with the Balkans Peace Park Project Expeditions 2009 in Albania

Pubblicato in data 25/lug/2012 da ThethiGuideAlbania

The focus of the 2009 Balkans Expedition for Peace was to complete a multi-day, three country border crossing expedition, and implement two single day Experiential Peacebuilding Expeditions in partnership with our local partner organizations, their guides and the local youth participants

In July 2009 IPPE launched two pilot experiential peacebuilding projects in the proposed Balkans Peace Park between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.
The first program in partnership with the Balkans Peace Park Project, focused on environmental awareness, teamwork and gender equality bringing seven youth, four girls and three boys, from Northern Albania on a single-day climb up Mount Harape (over 2,200 meters).  Through the course of the expedition, teamwork, communication, sacrifice for the greater good, and maximizing the diverse skills of your team, were the core lessons that played out in the course of this rigorous all day climb and descent.    
The second program in partnership with ERA and Marimangut, united five youth from the western region of Kosova with an international and local staff for a trek along the tri-border peak region of Albania, Montenegro, and Kosova. Over the course of the program the participants were engaged in dynamic activities that targeted leadership development, cultural expression, and knowledge of mountaineering skills. Youth participants completed an "I have a Dream Hike" to the peak of Bogiqe (over 2,200 meters)  where they considered a long-term perspective for their dreams and goals living in their newly independent country.
Both programs were shorter in duration then our normal expeditions, but the dept and richness of the interpersonal relationships that developed using the experiential peacebuilding expedition curriculum made for some lasting bonds and memories of shared experiences and accomplishments.  All the youth participants from both programs have volunteered to participate again, and are interested in taking a more active role in the planning and preparation for the longer 3 border crossing expedition with youth from all 3 countries.

My organization, International Peace Park Expeditions, uses experiential peacebuilding, academic programs, and professional trainings in international peace parks to integrate theory with practice. We seek to develop leadership and collaboration among three distinct, but complementary, groups: students and professors, transboundary protected area professionals, and youth from the peace park countries.

Our Summer 2010 programs focus on the proposed peace park in the Western Balkans’ Prokletije/Bjeshket e Namuna mountains, between Albania and the newly independent countries of Montenegro (2006) and Kosovo (2008), which were formerly part of Yugoslavia. The Balkans Peace Park Project, a UK charity and their local network of partner organizations and individuals, first conceptualized the Balkans Peace Park, an area of approximately 4000 square km, in 2001.

This summer, participants in our professional training symposium will collaboratively develop a more precise and dynamic map. Students and young leaders in our other two programs will learn about peace parks while trekking together across the borders into all three countries.

Experiential Peacebuilding (July 19-25, 2010)

Experiential Peacebuilding programs combine outdoor experiential education and practical skills training in peacebuilding to foster the development of a community of young leaders capable of catalyzing positive peaceful changes in their communities. This summer’s program is being developed in conjunction with our local partner organizations (ERA and Marimangut in Kosovo; Outdoor Albania and High Albania in Albania; and PSD Prokletija in Montenegro). The primary goals of these programs are to unite youth from conflict-affected communities to develop relationships across borders; transform negative attitudes and stereotypes; and create a core group of young leaders with the skills, tools, and motivation to generate and direct changes in their communities.

Academic Expedition (June 7-26 and August 2-21, 2010)

This three-week, three-credit course, “Conservation Beyond Borders,” will combine traditional academic teaching with proven experiential learning methodologies to create a unique, dynamic expedition that will provide students with a strong understanding of the theory and practice of international peace parks. Course readings and lectures will provide the academic base, and guest lectures from subject-matter experts working in the field will create the bridge; both will address sustainable forestry management, biodiversity surveys, eco-tourism plans, development and infrastructure planning, environmental conservation, water resource management, peacebuilding initiatives, and cross-border projects. First-hand experience trekking through the proposed Balkans Peace Park, crossing the borders of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and living among the local people will bring theory to life.

Professional Training Symposium (July 8-9, 2010)

This year’s Professional Field Training Symposium, “Critical Transboundary Environmental Linkages,” will bring together experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from the Prokletije/Bjeshket e Namuna region to discuss cross-border ecotourism, biodiversity mapping, and sustainable forestry management. The symposium seeks to build trust through cross-border collaboration, and to improve environmental management in the peace park region. Participants will create a Google Earth map to house shared environmental data and visit two project sites in the proposed peace park.

Todd Walters is the founder and executive director of International Peace Park Expeditions. He holds a master's degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University's School of International Service, and is a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) certified wilderness guide. While at AU, he worked as an intern for the Environmental Change and Security Program.

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