Adhila Hassan

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Affiliated Organizations
  • Independent Consultant

What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

My work in peace education in India has encountered major divisions in religious, racial and economic areas. However, growing religious hatred is a big problem, which has affected me mostly throughout my life and it is also the root cause of many conflicts India is currently facing. In my personal life, I continue to engage deeply with people regardless of their religion and to be a role model for respecting human dignity through love and compassion. I also provide emotional support and mental health guidance for people who face discrimination due to their choice of inter-religious marriage. In my professional life, I constantly use the potential of education in developing skills of empathy and critical thinking in every possible scenario through dialogue and transformative pedagogies in the learning settings. Though the journey is very challenging, the changes I witnessed in my community and family setting towards religious harmony keep me motivated to continue the work.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

Though I had many striking moments and witnessed changes during my peace Education work, one situation which challenged me the most remains my favorite. It was in my neighboring community where I got accidentally involved in a sexual abuse related conflict. It was the first time in an informal setting, outside of my usual work routine I was able to apply peace education. Through dialogue and deliberations, we discussed principles of restorative justice which was a new approach for many people. Though this approach was not welcomed by the majority of the members, I was able to see a shift in perspectives among many people which eventually led to a different course of events. This was an unforgettable experience for me as a peace educator and helped me to have faith in the process of learning. Many people appreciated my contribution about restorative justice and thanked me for bringing a different perspective which was more humane and peaceful.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

I was motivated to know my 'self' deeply since a young age and growing up in a Muslim community helped me to become a spiritual seeker. Though Islam touched me deeply and helped in my moral and spiritual development, I was disturbed by the religious extremism and the growing hatred in India in the name of religion. Some traumatic experiences from personal life forced me to think about religious harmony and options to build peace in my community. I started working in the field by using education as a major tool, mainly through the implementation of life skills education. During workshops, I was able to see the transformation in people by practicing empathy, critical thinking, self-awareness, etc. when discussing serious social issues like religious conflicts or inequality. This gave me hope that education can be a powerful transformative force in society. Experiences from this led to choosing my higher education and career path in becoming a peace educator.