After a visit to Serbia in 2001, Hetty returned home determined to do something to help the teachers with whom she met. The challenges they faced on a daily basis, after the war made daily school life a struggle. Following discussions with the Serbian Ministry of Education and Group Most, the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and Peaceful Schools International (PSI) applied for and received funding from the Peacebuilding Unit at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to implement a school-based peace education project with six schools in Belgrade, Pancevo, Leskovac, Nis, Novi Sad, and Backa Palanka. The project was strongly supported by the Serbian Ministry and NGO Group Most and was officially carried out from September 2002 to December 2003.
Students for Teaching Peace visit PSI member schools in Serbia.
A decade of civil war cost the lives of more than 250,000 people in the former Yugoslavia. The children of this region have been irrevocably afflicted by the violence. Can Hetty van Gurp help teach the language of peace to a generation of youth who have only known war?
Directed by Teresa MacInnes
Produced by Kent Martin Peter d’Entremont
Written by Erna Buffie Teresa MacInnes
The documentary film, Teaching Peace in a Time of War introduces us to the students and teachers of Vasa Pelagic School in Belgrade, Serbia. The students include Nenad, whose father is institutionalized for killing his mother, Emil who is terrorised for being Muslim, and Alexandra whose father admits that he “enjoyed” the war, relates that peace “means nothing to me, because I don’t have any peace.
”Peace education can be a challenge at the best of times. It’s even harder in a post-war atmosphere where the education system suffers from weary staff, overcrowding and lack of resources."
Ultimately, Teaching Peace in a Time of War shows that triumphs like the progress of Nenad, and of student representative Gordana, who helps organize the school’s first ever dance, offer a sense of optimism that even schools in the most troubled circumstances can become beacons of peace.
The “Way to Peace: Taking Care of Ourselves, Our Neighbours and Our World” summer camp was held in 2003, 2004 and 2005 in Nova Scotia for youth from Serbia and Canada. All camp activities were aimed at helping the campers become effective peacemakers in their homes, schools and your communities.
Based on reports from schools, the youth who have attended the “Way to Peace” camp, have become leaders in their schools and communities.
Each year, PSI presented the “Honourable Myra A. Freeman Scholarship” to a Serbian student attending the camp. The Honourable Myra A. Freeman is the Founding Patron of Peaceful Schools International and we are grateful for her support of PSI activities since its inception.