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The 25 young peacebuilders who participated in the Ignation leadership workshop. (JRS Colombia)

Cúcuta, 5 October 2017 – The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Colombia in Norte de Santander and the youth foundation Quinta con Quinta Crew recently gave their first joint workshop course on Ignatian leadership. The 25 young workshop participants who come from neighbourhoods throughout the city of Cúcuta are also participants in the "Youth Promoters" programme, an initiative that is part of JRS Colombia’s and the De Norte Bravos Hijos’ "From 9 to 9" project1.

The central theme of the workshop, Ignatian leadership, was set in the framework of the four characteristics of education in the Society of Jesus: Conscious, Competent, Compassionate, and Committed. Participants came to see themselves as conscious leaders by engaging with their status as healthy and proactive young people who encounter urban violence in their neighbourhoods and educational institutions. Competence as a characteristic of education was defined as the capacity to undertake a profound analysis of the reality of the cities and the metropolitan areas to which they belong. Through storytelling and neighbourhood histories, they built focused identity narratives that are fundamental to transforming the customary culture of violence and illegality that is present in many of their communities.

Likewise, in engaging with their own emotions, they displayed the ability to be compassionate, "feeling-thinking" beings who have the capacity to feel the needs of others as if they were their own. It was an interesting activity that made it possible to recognise the strength of emotions and the importance of emotional intelligence when it comes to transforming their own conflicts. Finally, on the last day of the course, they learned about commitment as one of the greatest challenges to practicing leadership that builds peace and reconciliation. In order to understand this challenge, they had the chance to think about how to build relationships and networks through dialogue and conversation. At the end of this activity, the young leaders demonstrated commitment by planning for National Human Rights Day on 9 September, and developing action plans in favour of promoting peace and reconciliation in their communities. The course sent participants home with creative leadership experience and the ability to work for and with other young people.

JRS believes this joint initiative with Quinta con Quinta Crew will further peace by strengthening youth leadership, an effective tool for transforming hate into love in a world that is much more than the national borders by which it is often defined. 

"We are bridges of hospitality.”

– JRS Colombia (Norte de Santander)

1 The “From 9 to 9” project was created by the Society of Jesus to encourage the training and participation of young people as fundamental parts of constructing a culture of peace and reconciliation. It is a training, reflection, and juvenile mobilisation programme that runs from 9 April, the National Day of Memory and Solidarity with Victims of Armed Conflict, until 9 September, the National Day of Human Rights and the festival of San Pedro Claver.