Residential School on respect and understanding: view from Jiwani Peters

Jiwani Peters is studying for a Masters' at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago. She attended the ACU Residential School 2017, held at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia in December 2017. Jiwani tells us how attending the Residential School has had a positive impact on her.

Jiwani Peters, UWI

The rewards from participating in the Residential School programme exceeded all my expectations. On the first day of the programme, battling intense jet lag and nerves, everything was overwhelming for the first hour. However, the warmth and adeptness of the facilitators calmed my emotions and it was also felt in the entire room – it set the premise for the enriching experience we were all embarking upon. The programme gave us the opportunity to interact with many diverse activists who were experienced with different social issues. This was intellectually gratifying for me and it also broadened my knowledge base about global issues and exposed me to multiple opinions and views. This allowed me to obtain a well rounded insight about the rewards and challenges to be expected in the arena of activism and bringing about global change.

What was transformative, to me, were the life lessons we learnt from each other. It is astonishing that 30 individuals, from all ends of the globe who hold different beliefs, views and traditions, were able to integrate so well with one another. The mood fostered throughout the event was one of a global family. We were able to see that even though our cases were specific to our region, we were united by our one mindset to bring about change in our country, the region and by extension, the world. We worked as an integrated unit, learning various skills from one another. We learnt when to speak up, but reaffirmed the importance of understanding when to listen and to observe. We grew as individuals introspectively defining which values are core to ourselves and which we are willing be flexible on – our core and our flex. The importance of this was lost on me before, but I understand now that this is the basis to staying grounded and persevere with activism. The encouragements we gave each other in our numerous exercises were remarkable as well. The positivity increased my confidence, encouraging myself and other participants to showcase strengths we unknowingly had or passively dismissed. We were fortunate that the atmosphere empowered us to understand that personal weakness we individually harbored can be transitioned into being our earnest strengths!

The programme has assisted in boosting my confidence and reignited my passion to go forward with my cause. It has equipped me with various practical plans, to strategically connect with the different target audiences who have to be seriously sensitized, to simply get the conversation started. I believe the ability to communicate and have a dialogue, where mutual respect for differing views is valued, is the first step to resolving most of the world’s socioeconomic problems. At the university level, this would be done in different avenues such as print and social media, workshops and informative sessions with students and administration (we were encouraged to work with established platforms) to get the sensitization across our individual campuses adequately and efficiently.  I am tremendously grateful to the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Common Purpose, for the life changing experience afforded to me by the Residential School programme. Not only do I have the memories, the lessons, the enlightened self-awareness, I now have a global family with bonds I am sure will last me a lifetime.

Jiwani Peters

  • Read our round-up of the event
  • Read other student's views on the Residential School: Robbie (from Otago University, New Zealand), Zaman (from Daffodil International University, Bangladesh), and Ruth Grace (from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda)
Last modified on 18/07/2018
Tags: ACU Residential School 2017 on respect and understanding