Saturday, October 12, 2013

Now that I reflect back on my experience as a Caux Scholar I believe it was one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences that I have ever had. Caux was a home for me for a month and while I was there I received more than I had expected. It was an eye-opening experience. I learnt the importance of valuing our humanity, no matter where we come from or what we do. Being with a group of 24 scholars from 20 different countries, made me learn about their backgrounds, conflicts, cultures and, most importantly, their experiences. It was a never-ending learning process, everyday I was exposed to new people and new opportunities to learn, which eventually made me think of certain issues with a new perspective.

 Upon my return to Canada, I discovered new aspects of myself, such as growing to see beyond what another person may represent, like their country or nationality. I learnt to take steps towards understanding the points of view of those who have a quite different perspective of certain events than me. Today, when I look back at my experience at Caux, I see how I had the ability to move forward and build bridges, when I was offered the right opportunity.

 I met with a fellow Armenian scholar from Armenia and two Azeri scholars. Because of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia from 1988 to 1994 over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I had been left with fear and anger towards Azeris. Yet, having not met an Azeri before in my life, I was afraid and angry of my own reactions and theirs upon meeting them at Caux. At first I thought I would never be able to make connections with the two of them, but today, after a month of living together as fellow scholars and trying to understand their perspectives, I view them as one of my fellow peace initiators. I believe at Caux, I had the chance to focus on their personalities and experiences rather than what they might represent or where they come from. This was a stepping stone for me to meet with the "enemy" and Caux gave me that chance. "

What is so humbling about my experience at Caux, is that no matter who you are - whether a student or a president of an international organization, - everybody is there with the common goal of initiating peace and living with the spirit of Caux.

Elina Sarkisian