Nonviolence Training: Changing Lives

Omar Awwad, Global UGRAD 2016-2017, Keene State College

This spring break I had the opportunity to volunteer with Something New, an organization that helps welcome refugees and immigrants to the States. Part of the program was receiving training that would help us understand what we were doing in order to offer more help to people who need it the most.

The one training that I’d say changed my perspective and how I view the world would be the nonviolence training. Nonviolence training was used extensively during the civil rights movement and in Gandhi’s campaigns in India against the British.

The purpose of the training is for participants to form a common understanding of the use of nonviolence. It gives a forum to share ideas about nonviolence, oppression, fears, and feelings. It allows people to meet and build solidarity with each other and provides an opportunity to form strong connections.

Nonviolence training can range from several hours to several months. Our training with Something New was about 6 hours and included people from different states and very diverse backgrounds.

Something New wants to train people how to effectively and peacefully handle conflict. The training was building on the principles of Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After the training I talked with one of the organizers, and I remember telling him that something inside me had changed after what I had experienced during the nonviolence training. He asked me what had changed, and I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know what had really changed about me! Even until now I don’t know what is this change, but I can say that I learned how to never judge a person because I don’t know what they have been through. 

The nonviolence training inspires and educates individuals to think and act differently, to break free from prejudice, bias, and judgment, which allow participants to respond to conflict with reconciliation instead of lashing out or holding grudges. 

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