ToNoWo – Learning Peace [2017]

September 15-23, 2017 in The Netherlands

Participating countries: Egypt, Palestine (OPT), Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Italy, Romania, Germany, The Netherlands.

Towards a Nonviolent World’s Learning Peace is a program for youth workers to acquire knowledge, insights and professional skills in nonviolent conflict transformation and peacebuilding, by non-formal participatory learning processes. The ‘power’ of this training is that it both explores violence (the problems) and nonviolence (many creative solutions).  

This training aimed to empower youth workers by knowledge, skills and insights, so they can prevent escalation of violence, transform conflicts and engage in peaceful interactions and relations, creating a support network of like-minded friends. This aim is achieved by our objectives:

1. To increase awareness and knowledge about violence and nonviolence, peacebuilding and conflict transformation, by actively engaging them with several relevant key ideas and models,
2. To develop skills through practicing innovative conflict transformation, effective communication, role-plays of nonviolent actions, analysing and strategizing.
3. To provide the necessary input and inter-cultural setting to impact youth worker’s beliefs and behaviours, so they can respond to challenges they face in their work, preventing violent escalation, constructively transforming conflict, and building peaceful relationships.
4. To lay the foundation of professionalism and international collaboration in the field of youth work, by networking, collaborating across cultural or ideological differences, and exchanging a diverse range of experiences and (local) knowledge.


23 people from nine different countries came together in Heerlen, in The Netherlands to participate in this training, in which we used non-formal learning methods to gain knowledge and skills in nonviolent conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

The training program is structured in such a way that it first establishes a common understanding of key terms, and than engages people in shorter and longer role plays. To give you an impression, here are some of the exercises we did, that demonstrate the ‘core understandings’ that the rest of the program builds on:

  • The Violence Spectrum: a powerful tool that helps people to reflect on violence and hear many different opinions.
  • The ‘faces’ of violence: understanding that Violence is not just visible ‘Direct’ violence, but includes Structural and Cultural Violence.
  • Forms of Power:  Besides power over, people can be powerful through collaborating together: power with, and developing personal skills and inner peace: power within.

We started role playing with four stories of nonviolent actions that participants played out, so they would remember the stories. We then provided some theoretical models, to discuss several responses to conflict. After which we exemplified Five Ways to Stop Intimidation and Harassment. (A topic that many participants were motivated to engage with, and which became very much discussed only a few weeks after the training when the #metoo campaign took off). To develop their Conflict Transformation skills, we offered the Forum Theater technique, whereby participants create their own plays and intervened in each other’s scenes, to change the dynamics of the conflict in the play. People also played a Restorative Justice Circle, based on real examples from Brazil, and practiced communication skills, drawing on Non-Violent Communication as developed by Rosenberg.

Besides the workshops there was an Open Evening with local people from the town, as a part of the Peace Week, and a visit to The Hague, to a museum with an interactive exhibition.

To see the entire program, you can download the document here.

The Learning Outcomes and Follow-up ideas of the training, have a look at the designated tab in the menu on this website.