Chedlia Ben Saad has been teaching in a school in Bengerden, southeast Tunisia, for 15 years. She has always tried to make her classes pleasant for her students and used different games and art to engage them. Chedlia has always been concerned about the lives of her students beyond the school limits. This motivated her to find out more about Generations for Peace.
I like volunteering because I like to have my people – I am an English teacher. In my school, my students face difficulties, violence… During this program, they are allowed to express themselves, to become interested in something, to have a purpose
The 42 year old teacher was invited by the school´s headmaster to attend the first GFP Sports and Arts For Peace Training in Tunisia last year. With dozens of other teachers, headmasters and focal persons from the Ministry of Education, she learned how to use sports and arts to build peace. According to her, these activities have provided students with self-confidence and skills that have made them stronger to face difficulties in life.
We had some really radical changes in some students: in their way of seeing things and in their behaviour, mainly concerning violence. In the way of not expressing themselves, they now have more self-confidence to speak, to express their opinion, talk to others, to get integrated in the group
Chedlia feels that people believe in something when they can see a difference in behaviour over time. She saw that difference in her classes.
One of the students, he was really, really shy. He couldn´t talk and, you know the problem in the south, there is segregation between girls and boys, so this boy was really shy. He couldn´t talk to girls and his friends were bullying him – not all students – but he was unable to communicate. Now this person is a great student and he is a leader, he wants to do something for the program. He came to ask me what I was going to do next: are there some future programs? I want to do something. He tries to motivate his friends. He is 16 years old. It was great!
The training offered by Generations For Peace lasted only seven days and it completely changed the life of Chedlia. This year, she attended other training sessions focused on Social Cohesion and Life Skills integrated with Sports For Peace so as to develop each teachers´ ability to equip students with life skills. Teachers must be committed to the mission of Generations For Peace to work as volunteers. Chedlia gives advice to those ones interested in joining GFP:
First of all, to get to know something, to know the stories. It is really motivating to hear other people´s experiences, to listen to them first. It is really motivating and I really advise people to get into it: either love it or leave it!
Based in Jordan, Generations For Peace started its training sessions in Tunisia last year. Until now, more than a hundred people have been trained and it is providing children and youth with skills to pursue their goals, always looking to create positive dialogue instead of hate. Experiencing the students change in behaviour has inspired teachers like Chedlia. Their willingness to help the students has driven them to learn and to make a difference in their lives.
Now I have something, I give something, I participate. It is the essence. I tried to change something. This is the difference: before I just watched and I thought. Now I express my opinion and I can do something. I make a small difference, but still a difference, because I love these children
By Beatriz Buarque