For the past few months one of our BREATHE in Education trainers from Colombia has been working with FHI 360 and the Ministry of Education in El Salvador to develop a curriculum for 350 schools which combines social emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness practice. Teachers have been trained in the field by our specialist, and we’ve constantly been reflecting and building upon the intersection of SEL and mindfulness, and especially about how mindfulness practice can function as a supportive foundation upon which emotional learning skills can be developed by teachers and students who live under complex volatile contexts. The project will continue until the end of the year with ongoing curriculum design, training with teachers and implementation in schools.
Our Swiss partner organization Achtsame Schulen Schweiz has been busy developing its own version of the BREATHE in Education program, which will be implemented under the name “MoMento”. It equally starts with a teacher training and then continues with the classroom component, which currently counts two distinct curricula. Since September last year the organization has implemented several trainings for teachers and members of the association, counting today with already 40 educators who will implement the curricula in classrooms reaching from first to sixth grade. Achtsame Schulen Schweiz is currently planning a new project to pilot and evaluate the full MoMento-Program in three new schools, alongside the development of a comprehensive train-the-trainers program for a first cohort of MoMento facilitators.
The Conference Mindfulness Approaches in an African Context organized by the Institute for Mindfulness in South Africa was our first official event participation as BREATHE International. It was a privilege to exchange with and learn from people who have thought and worked with sensitivity and care towards reconciliation in South Africa, such as Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, former director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as from many other great people and mindfulness experts like David Treleaven, Rhonda Magee, Mark Williams and Rebecca Crane. We shared an enriching panel with Pumla and David on how to apply mindfulness practices with communities or individuals that have experienced systematic violence and trauma like the groups we work with through the BREATHE in Reconciliation program.
[…] “What does it take to implement a mindfulness-based stress reduction program in South Sudan?” people asked me. The truth is; I don’t know. I sometimes still find it hard to answer that question. I again deeply studied the program before traveling, along with revising my ideas about how these trainings should develop. I read, felt, spoke with my MBSR mentor Trish Magyari at the University of San Diego. I didn’t plan or write anything down and simply waited. I waited until I landed in a dry Juba, felt the heat, the chaos mirrored in the airport with paperboard as the floor, with no roofs, just tents. Heat.
“Mindfulness specialist” was written on my IOM ID card they handed over to me... read the whole blog entry!
It probably started back in 2009 at the International Institute for Peace Education (IIPE) in Budapest. Among the inspiring conversations and contributions that were shared, a few key questions connected us deeply: How can we foster peacebuilding from within? How could peace education be made more effective and sustainable by starting on the intrapersonal level? What should be contained in such approaches, what would be the methodology?
At that moment we didn’t yet think of mindfulness as an answer to these questions. Our personal meditation practice was just that, and we did not yet connect it directly to our professional work in peace education. But working with some difficult realities in Nepal, Thailand, India and Colombia… read more in our first blog entry!