An evening of collaboration across borders and seeing a future of peace
Thursday night saw the end of a fantastic first week of this year’s GATHER Fellowship, and the kick-off of a one-year programme where our 16 Fellows will be developing their social initiatives for conflict transformation alongside our mentors.
It was an evening amongst friends and supporters, all sharing the passion for social innovation and for peace. SE Forum’s Executive Director Nicklas Wallberg hosted the evening at a packed Norrsken House together with Leslie Adelson Lewin, the Executive Director of our programme partner Seeds of Peace, and we were thrilled and truly honoured to also be joined by Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson. Eliasson shared insights from a life of diplomacy and impressive work around the world with the aim of collaboration and peace, and spoke with encouragement towards our young Fellows who are embarking on their journey of conflict transformation through their social initiatives and enterprises.
Eliasson stressed the importance of trust in leadership, and how we should avoid working in silos. He argued that if we want to create real change we need to step out of our silos and collaborate. We need to be tough and stand up for our values. And we need to empower young people, we need to mobilise them and allow them to use their passion to do good in the world.
16 inspiring stories of conflict transformation
During the evening, SE Forum Programme Director Fiona Hazell and GATHER Programme Director Jonah Fisher, also introduced our 16 Fellows who shared their stories, their passions, and their initiatives for good, based around the Sustainable Development Goals they are working towards. We heard from Marios who is using literature to teach kids in Cyprus about peace and about loving ‘the other’. We heard from Pooja from India who is running Letters of Love, a platform for the exchange of letters of encouragement, peace and love as a response to the refugee crisis. And we heard from Yo’av who is bringing affordable solar energy to Middle Eastern families in Israel who often go without power for a good portion of the day.
And we heard many more stories of challenges, conflict, fear, differences, safety issues, and lack of compassion. But what we’re taking away from the event is all positive. The stories of peace-building, of collaboration and partnerships, of friendship across borders, of using business to do good, and of engaging kids and youth in the changes and developments for a more peaceful future.
Photo credit: Stina Svanberg www.stinasvanberg.se