Tuesday, August 12, 2014

'What is the Caux Scholars Program? is the first question that pops up when the 19 Scholars introduce themselves to the other interns at the former Caux-Palace. The scholars live for just over a month in the Caux Conference centre. There, they have to attend 40 hours of academic classes each week which focus on themes such as transitional justice and peace building. The Program is concerned with understanding and embracing a form of justice that satisfies human needs. Furthermore, it provides contemporary applications of justice in current and post-war settings. But that’s not all. Sitting in a classroom is only a small part of the program. In addition to academic work, each scholar has to dedicate seven hours to service each week. This service includes cutting vegetables, help in the wash up or serving coffee. The program also includes a trip to Geneva where they visit the headquarters of the United Nations and of various NGOs, a chocolate factory visit, and a hike up to the Rochers de Naye.

Every year, the Scholars are required to participate in one of the Caux conferences. This year, they are participants, faciliators, and helpers at the «International Peace Builder’s Forum» conference. This gives them the opportunity to experience the conference from behind the scenes and to implement the knowledge they have gained. The experience of the Caux Scholars Program starts months before the actual arrival of the scholars and lasts for a lifetime.

The Caux Scholars program is a program of Initiatives of Change in the United States.
Individual IofC members who see a future and great potential in this program mostly sponsor the program, that requires $130 000 each year to keep going. Fundraising events organized by Jitka Hromek-Vaitla, Program Director of The Caux Scholars Program to fund the program, are also organized throughout the year.

Who is part of the class of 2014? A selection committee, represented by six alumni has been busy since February. In order to create a diverse and multi- cultural environment for learning and dialogues the selection process was based on age, gender, experiences, academic background, languages, skills and competencies. After receiving numerous applications, it was finally decided: 19 scholars from more than 14 different countries, representing four different continents would be arriving on 20 July in Montreux and taking the little train up to Caux.

During the last week, 15 alumni returned to Caux to attend the Scholars Reunion and the «International Peace Builder’s Forum ». This kind of reunion is planned every five years to share the impact of the Program and of Caux..

« What impact? », one might ask. Two ex- scholars decided to start an NGO in Africa and another one from Egypt started a network in his country to achieve peace and non-violence.  These are the kinds of stories one might overhear at a Caux Scholars Reunion.

What’s next? On Friday, 15 August a graduation ceremony and farewell party will celebrate the scholars here at Caux. But the program director, coordinator and alumni are not finished yet.

Why? Because they are planning on starting a Scholars Program in India, Panchgani in 2015 to give more young people the chance to experience such a life- changing adventure.