O.B. Montessori Center (OBMC) President Sara Soliven-De Guzman, along with NewGen Peacebuilders (NGP) Executive Director Patricia Shafer and Rotary International Director Peter Kyle (2020–2021 for Zone 33–34), gave a presentation in a breakout session entitled, “Build Peace. Lead Peace.” during the Rotary International (RI) Convention in Melbourne, Australia, last May 30, 2023.
The session focused on the concept of “developing peace leaders” and how Rotarians in the US, Lebanon, and the Philippines have been expanding peace education in their countries. For the Philippines, Soliven-De Guzman talked about the integration of NGP’s Youth and Peace in Action (YPA) into OBMC’s Leadership Academy.
Soliven-De Guzman is a member of the West Snyder-Beaver Springs Rotary Club (WSBS). It is a satellite e-club composed of international Rotarians from the USA, Switzerland, Russia, and the Philippines. Its pilot project in the Philippines has made the students of the O.B. Montessori Center its main beneficiary.
OBMC has partnered with NGP to incorporate peace education into its Junior High School curriculum to further enhance its unique youth development program, which aims to develop responsible, proactive citizens on all its campuses.
To ease the students into the peace education program, 50 Grade 8–11 students were selected to try out the YPA’s My Peacebuilder Foundations online course. Seeing the positive results
among them, OBMC in the next phase enrolled more than 500 Grade 10 students in the online course. Then the school integrated the concepts of peace education into their Leadership Training subject from Grade 7–9, moving up to Grade 11 for the implementation of the peace projects. OBMC is now the first school in Asia to fully adopt the Rotary-initiated peace education program of NewGen Peacebuilders.
Soliven-De Guzman’s well-attended and well-received presentation showcased how Maria Montessori’s educational concepts align with peace education, which made it easy for the school to adopt NGP’s program. From the professional development of the teachers and staff to a select group of YPA representatives piloting the project, this process led to the seamless integration of peace education in the school’s curriculum. Besides that, the exposure of the teachers and students to online learning helped them to successfully navigate the YPA online platform, therefore becoming certified peacebuilders.
The presentation ended with an impactful testimony from Grade 10 student Sofia Rufo, who realized how the youth can be peacebuilders and agents of change. This affirmed OBMC’s mission to develop youth peacebuilders who are socially aware, and future leaders who are dedicated to achieving world peace. The Rotarians who attended left the session inspired to undertake the same educational program in their own districts.
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