Shaping Our Future Together: Shaping the New Normal Together

The 6th and final installment of the Shaping Our Future Together webinar series this year was conducted last November 20 via Zoom and FB live. The theme for this episode is “Shaping the New Normal Together”.

The president & CEO of Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation Greg Auberry gave the opening remarks. He believes that joining webinars and online events like this would inspire us to me more hopeful that we can win against the odds. The partnership between Global Peace Foundation and Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation modeled collaboration to break through the challenges caused by the pandemic and find solutions for the problems that the youth are facing today that threaten safe spaces. 

Moreover, he discussed about the concept of “re-pivoting” wherein one should be able to take a step back and check other possibilities to promote our advocacy on safe space and create more safe space heroes.

The first speaker, President & CEO of APEC Schools Joie Janeo-Lopez, shared the efforts of their institutions to promote and create Safe Spaces despite the challenges that the country has faced starting from the Taal volcano eruption last January. Their institution have already foreseen that these events will affect the educational system of the country. As such, they provided online and home schooling available for their students. They crafted safety protocols to protect the health of their teachers, staff, parents, and students in case that the face to face classes be resumed. Aside from safety precautions for physical health, they also have the Mental Health Program which includes activities such as “wellness survey and guidance program; promotion of mental health and well-being; and Kamustahan project” for their students and employees.

They launched the Digital Citizen Series during Homeroom classes to teach their students on how they can be responsible citizens of the digital world. Topics include: media balance & well-being, privacy & security, digital footprint & identity, relationships & communication, cyberbullying, digital drama & hate speech, and news & media literacy.

APEC Schools is a member of House of Investments and Ayala Group whose mission is to transform lives through accessible and innovative education.

President of Natalie in the Light Association Wouter T. Lincklaen Arriens discussed about Safe communities—mobilizing the youth for community initiatives. Natalie in the Light Association is established in the loving memory of his daughter Natalie who died at the age of 12. The association is working with partners who supports the Young Bridging Leaders Challenge for high school and college students to empower a new generation of young leaders.

Coach Wouter shared 3 stories, 3 principles, and 3 lessons that he have learned throughout their journey in empowering youth to become leaders. “All of us can make a difference more than what we think” (Lincklaen Arriens, 2020). The three lessons he mentioned were (1) high school leaders can influence positive change in SDG projects; (2) College leaders & YPs can run a Young Bridging Leaders program; (3) Partnering with like-minded orgs enables more young leaders to step up. The graduates of YBL collaborated to transform the program for the online platform to continue their advocacy to face the new normal. If we continue to support and empower our youth, we can find solutions to our challenges and help bridge the digital divide and make a difference.

One of 2020 Safe Space Heroes Joshua Cote (Puso Movement) shared about Safe Conversations – Relevant and Meaningful Discourse in the New Normal. According to him, communication should be interactive, free from prejudice, and consensual for it to be called a safe and reliable conversation. For conversations to be relevant and meaningful, it should cultivate confidence, address societal or personal issues, and provide a Safe Space for the participants. 

Why is Safe Discourse relevant to the new normal? According to Cote (2020), this provides a “backbone”/ where humans have something to rely on, to easily cope up with stress and anxiety, and to find hope despite the current situation. Of course, this would be possible with people whom you feel safe talking to, is a good influence for your mental health, and wise enough to give proper advice and guidance.

The closing message was delivered by International Program Development Coordinator of Global Peace Foundation Sharleen Tomobe. In behalf of GPF, she extended her gratitude to the panelists and partners who made this webinar possible. 

In this times, we should be optimistic and believe that there is greater power above us and that it is sending us a deeper meaning of life. Covid-19 virus destroys lives of people, families, and even economies of nations. No one is sparred and all that will be left will be our legacy no matter how long or short we live.

In the Global Peace Foundation, we believe that we are “One Family Under God” so we have been investing in peace-building initiatives. “We should shape our lives through service of people to have a great and meaningful life” (Tomobe, 2020). We should serve other people because that is our purpose. There is no room for selfishness and greed. We should always live for the greater good and that’s how we should live in the new normal. 

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