When did the Academy for Peace begin and what has it achieved?
A BePeace training program, based on building social and emotional intelligence, began on October 3, 2003 to prepare trainers for teaching it in public schools. The first pilot project was launched on February 6, 2004 at the Escuela de Excelencia Elías Jimenéz Castro. This program was first known as the “Peace Army” but its name was changed to the Academy for Peace in 2007.
By the end of 2007, the Academy for Peace had impacted over 9,000 students by providing:
- 304 teachers with 40-80 hours each of BePeace training and follow up in the classroom
- 259 students with 6 hours of BePeace mediation training
- 50 parents with BePeace training
What does the Academy for Peace do?
The mission of the Academy for Peace is to empower every Costa Rican child to pass the skills of “feeling peace” and “speaking peace” to the next generation. To achieve this, social and emotional skill building must be integrated on a daily basis into the schools. We do this by teaching facilitators the practice of BePeace, a synergistic combination of HeartMath and Nonviolent Communication. The facilitators then teach students, parents and teachers to use BePeace, especially whenever mediation is needed for a conflict.
What is HeartMath?
The Institute of HeartMath has developed scientifically validated tools that can be used to harness our emotions and attain a state of peaceful coherence. In using HeartMath, we learn how to align the activity of the brain and the heart to become more emotionally intelligent. This skill is reinforced by using HeartMath technologies, such as the emWave, that monitor our heart rhythms and indicate the level of coherence between the brain and the heart.
The benefits of HeartMath include improved anger management, increased impulse control, enhanced creativity, wiser decision making and higher academic test scores. For example, a group of students who had failed a math test were taught HeartMath rather than spend additional time studying math. When they took the test a second time, using HeartMath, their scores rose by 35%. The United States Congress awarded the Institute of HeartMath a one-million dollar grant for their Test-Edge project to demonstrate the impact of HeartMath on reducing test anxiety. For further information, click on the link below to see the report Reducing Test Anxiety and Improving Test Performance in America’s Schools – Executive Summary or visit www.heartmath.org.
The Academy for Peace has been well supported by the Institute of HeartMath in its aims and is deeply appreciative of this partnership.
What is Nonviolent Communication?
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg developed Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in 1984 and founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication. NVC is a way to discover our feelings and universal human needs and to understand how they drive our actions. With this new awareness, we can speak to each other with respect and compassion and build strategies for getting everyone’s needs met. Through NVC, we express our empathy and honesty using four steps: observation, feelings, needs and request. Our main intention in using NVC is to stay connected to our universal needs and those of the other person. When we are connected in this way, conflicts are much easier to resolve and positive strategies emerge naturally for enriching our lives.
This method of building social intelligence is now taught in over 50 countries and has been used to resolve conflicts in Rwanda, Colombia, Israel and Palestine, among others. When four schools in Sweden were offered three different models of conflict resolution, all four of them chose NVC. For further information, visit www.cnvc.org. Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication have supported the Academy for Peace through many scholarships to its trainers and discounts for materials.
Can I be trained in the BePeace practice?
Although our training focuses primarily on the Costa Rican school system, we also offer:
- Training for bilingual volunteers who wish to become Academy for Peace trainers at headquarters. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Public BePeace trainings at our headquarters. Click on “BePeace Training and Tours”
- Public BePeace empowerment group, that meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at our headquarters. Click on “BePeace Training and Tours”
- BePeace Tours that include 10 days of immersion training coupled with a tour of the best sites of Costa Rica Click on “BePeace Training and Tours”
- BePeace seminars in other countries as announced. Click on “BePeace Training and Tours”
Who has endorsed the Academy for Peace?
- Association of Businesses for Development in Costa Rica (AED), which is associated with International United Way
- Tony Vaughn, Costa Rica Educational Foundation
- Barbara Jones, Women and Children First Foundation
- Christine Essex, Pan American Educational Foundation
- Neal Carson, Carson Foundation
- Father Claudio Solano, Catholic priest well known in Costa Rica for his work in social justice
- Deepak Chopra, author of Peace is the Way
- The Ashoka Foundation, by granting first prize to the Academy for Peace in its contest for the Change¬makers Innovation Award: Building a More Ethical Society. Academy for Peace was chosen from 79 projects in 32 countries
- CHF International Foundation
- Many others
I have heard that Costa Rica began identifying with peace when its army was abolished in 1948. How does Costa Rica get along without an army?
Costa Rica has an extraordinary sense of purpose in regards to modeling peace to the world. For example, in 2006, our founder, Rita Marie Johnson wrote an initiative for a Ministry for Peace in Costa Rica that was based on the collective wisdom of those involved in the Rasur Foundation. It was embraced by the President and is now a bill before the Legislative Assembly that will pass very soon, as it has no opposition.
A country that truly identifies with and promotes peace does not attract enemies. In addition, because most countries respect the values that Costa Rica seeks to live by, they tend to protect it. Costa Rica is the only country in the world with no army and no defense arrangement. In its defenselessness lies its strength.
At the same time, Costa Rica is also being affected by the growth of violence as a social phenomenon. The Academy for Peace seeks to impact every citizen so that peace can prevail in every corner of this precious country.
What is the position of the Academy for Peace on countries with a military establishment?
The Academy for Peace is for everyone and against no one, including the military. Our aim is to empower every individual to become a peacemaker. For this reason, we do not take sides on political issues. At the same time, we would like to see a world where prevention of conflict is the norm and violence of any kind, including war, is a rare exception. We imagine the majority of people would prefer to live in a peaceful world where their children feel safe and resources are used for actualizing human potential.
How is the Academy for Peace of Costa Rica funded?
The Rasur Foundation is continually working to raise money so it can expand the Academy for Peace to the national level. Since Costa Rica is a developing country, generous donors are needed to help achieve this goal. The Academy for Peace is prepared now to upscale to the national level; all that is needed is the funding to carry out this intention.
Funds for the each stage in the development of the Academy for Peace have consistently shown up through unexpected donations to the Rasur Foundation. Now we have a plan for financial sustainability that is based on the construction of a Residential Hall. This will make it possible to generate funds for the Academy for Peace public school program through “for-pay” national and international trainings.
How much is needed to complete the physical infrastructure for the Academy for Peace?
How much is needed to fund the national “train-the-facilitators” program?
$500,000 for getting it up to the national level, then $150,000 per year after that.
How can I support the plan to establish the Academy for Peace as a national model?
- If you would like to volunteer, click on Volunteer Opportunities.
- If you would like to know other ways to show your support, click here.
- If you would like to contribute financially, click on the “Donate” button which leads you to Pay Pal where you can make a secure donation with a credit card.
- If you would like to make a US tax deductible donation, make your check out to “Women and Children First Foundation” and send it to: Women and Children First Foundation, 316 Poinciana Rd. Birmingham, AL 35209. This foundation holds 501(c)3 status in the United States and supports the work of the Rasur Foundation.
Passing the skills of “feeling peace” and
from generation to generation.