Bridging the Gap: Engaging a New Generation in the Southern Philippines in Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Conflict Resolution.

This is an international youth exchange project on inter-ethnic dialogue and conflict resolution for Muslim, Christian and indigenous cultures in the southern Philippines.

This project is run by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the International Training Office (ITO) of Northern Illinois University (NIU). It has been a three year project so far that has trained over 75 youth and 25 adult activists in Mindanao. Each spring, the project hosts a four-week institute at NIU for 30 Muslim and non-Muslim Filipino students and adult leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The goal of the institute is to transmit knowledge and build strategies among participants about ways to foster interethnic cooperation and a variety of forms of conflict resolution. By drawing on the example of civic society and diversity in the United States and by understanding the larger regional context in which contemporary conflicts in Mindanao exist, participants acquire new perspectives to support future grassroots efforts to build closer cooperation and understanding among the different cultural, religious, and political groups in the southern Philippines. This project is undertaken in partnership with Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City and with the International Visitors Program-Philippines, and builds on the Philippine expertise of the major project supervisors. The project is funded by the Youth Exchange Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. It is directed by Dr. Susan Russell, Anthropology, and Dr. Lina Davide-Ong, International Training Office. The in-country project coordinators are Dr. Nagasura Madale, Vice President for Research and Extension, and Dr. Noemi Medina, Director of the Mindanao Peace Building Institute of Capital University in Cagayan de Oro City.
The participants each year comprise 25 students, aged 15-17 years, and 5 adult leaders who are selected from all geographic parts of the ARMM and nearby areas in an open, merit-based, recruitment strategy. The institute focuses on four key teaching modules: 1) volunteerism and civil society, emphasizing particularly the institutions and organizations that mediate between the national government and individuals; 2) contemporary American institutions in state and civil society that support ethnic diversity, affirmative action, and religious pluralism; 3) the underlying premises and practices of conflict resolution; and 4) the ethnic, ritual, historical, and moral dimensions of similarity and difference that underlie majority/minority ethnic and political ties in Southeast Asia. Through a variety of academic experiences and cultural visits to important historical landmarks and civic organizations in the Midwest, participants meet, learn, and exchange views with key individuals about ways to support a peaceful but ethnically and religiously plural society.

Published: 25 May 2006

Contact details:

Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

News topics: 
Content type: