by Joseph Hayashi
Who dictates our history? Is history really about the truth of what happened or is it just the perception of who controls the history? While I was growing up, I never saw any issues with the history that was being taught, I took it as the truth that everyone believe in. I never thought that anyone would change or use the idea of our history to control what we know but this is exactly what Dr. Qamar-Ul Huda was telling us about in his presentation today. Qamar asked us if we were ever taught about peace in our school system growing up. For me, I was able to answer right away. I have never had any peace studies taught to me while growing up. My schools did not think that it was a necessary topic. It did not fit in with the other subjects such as mathematics, english, and government. But after being asked this question I thought it was very strange that I never had a class about peace. With all the gang violence in Salinas, one would think that the idea of peace would come before every other subject but it never did. Then the idea of history came into the talk about peace studies. It was thought that history was the way people taught peace, in particular the history of wars. But Qamar made a good point, that I never thought of before, which was that we only focus on war in our history classes and don’t ever mention the times inbetween where peace happened. He explained to us about how being taught about war after war after war was a way the government could persuade us into thinking that we need more military security. This way of teaching history taught us that history is nothing but war and the only way to survive is to build up our military. But how do we change those thoughts? How do we incorporate the idea of peace into our studies? Are we so conditioned to war that learning about peaceful times would just be boring to us now?
We were allowed to try and solve this issue by creating our own curriculum later in the presentation. We were told to focus on both the formal and informal sectors for educating at the high school level. At first I thought the formal curriculum would be the easier of the two but while making the program I soon realised that the informal sector was the easier one to figure out. We focused on creating groups based around hobbies that were run by different professional organizations in the community such as the police. But once we presented our proposal there were some specific problems pointed out to us. The main issue that was pointed out to us was the fact that many of our programs were made so that a professional organization would have to facilitate it. There were no programs that would be able to run with the high school demographic alone. This project showed me how hard it was to integrate the idea of peace into a formal and informal curriculum but it did give me a lot of ideas that I will bring back to Salinas to try and implement there. Getting the chance to bounce ideas off other people was a great opportunity to see which ideas could work. This project reminded me why I wanted to get into the field of peacebuilding and made it so I want to go back and implement these programs for my community.