"People felt happy, tired, excited, active, alert and free when playing the games." - Agyat Shunya
The final stop for Play for Peace master trainers Swati Bhatt
and Agyat Shunya
in Myanmar was Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State. Located nearly 1,500 kilometers from Yangon
and 800 kilometers from Mandalay
, Myitkyina in Burmese means "near the big river" which reflects its location at the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River.
The training session took place in the Pinya Tagar Academy. The name of the school means ‘Door of Knowledge” and it provides a space for young people to grow up in more ways than one. Over sixteen youths from remote places in Kachin state come the academy to study and gain valuable experience by working with community-based organizations.
“We wish such opportunities exist for youth everywhere,” said Swati. “It is like 'initiation into adulthood' and in the best possible way as they can learn skills and knowledge that they can take back to impact the communities they come from.”
The training was with the teachers of the Pinya Tagar Academy as well as members of other organizations. In the beginning there were only a few people so Swati and Agyat started with “even one can play” games. However, as more participants trickled in and there were more options for games.
The group eased into the first Practice Peace Session (PPS) once the group had grown to 18 participants. “Laughter, laughter and more laughter!" said Agyat. “People felt happy, tired, excited, active, alert and free when playing the games.”
After a few more games and lunch, Swati and Agyat showed the participants a presentation on the concept and core values of Play for Peace. One participant asked a question about a slide that showed a connection between “Laughter – Compassion – Peace”.
To answer the question, the group had a dialogue about their morning experience and the impact of all the laughter that they shared. They acknowledged that laughter helped them connect with one other which helped them see the link between the three values. The group also discussed how to distinguish between “laughing together” and “laughing at” which can feel very different.