Third Wee Kim Wee-Soka International Seminar on Global Peace and Understanding

Third Wee Kim Wee-Soka International Seminar on Global Peace and Understanding

In its third year, The Annual Wee Kim Wee-Soka International Seminar on Global Peace and Understanding was held on April 4 and 5, in the Administration Building of the Singapore Management University (SMU).

In his opening address and welcome message, SSA Chairman, Mr Michael Yap, shared that SSA is deeply honoured and grateful to partner the Wee Kim Wee Centre of SMU in hosting this seminar, in the spirit and belief to bring forth the full potential of dialogue. The seminar series brings together outstanding scholars and key leaders from their respective fields for the much needed dialogue that serves to create immense causes for the advancement of peace and understanding.

The seminar revolved around three main topics—Global Citizenship and Volunteerism, Aging and Culture and Diversity.

From left to right: SSA General Director Tay Eng Kiat, The Good Exchange (Singapore) Co-Founder Lee Siew Yian, SSA Chairman Michael Yap, Walter and Healthcare Foundation (Singapore) Founder Christopher Wilson, Wee Kim Wee Centre Director Associate Professor Kwok Kian Chow.

More than ten speakers from the civil society who are actively involved in different fields such as community work, social enterprise, education, intercultural and interfaith work were invited to speak at the seminar; to share their programmes, experiences, and cross-cultural learnings often at a very personal level, notwithstanding the “international” and “global” in scope.

“We hope to approach the issue of peace, as inspired by Ikeda, at person to person level, of humility, understanding and a deep respect for diversity”, said Assoc Prof Kwok Kian Chow, Director of Wee Kim Wee Centre of SMU in this welcome message.

One of the speakers, Dr Lily Rose Tope, Professor and current chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature in University of the Philippines, said, “This multi-disciplinary seminar helped me learn a lot of things that I care about, but is outside of my field and I know very little about.”

“With such a wide range of topics covered at the seminar, you would feel that every individual can contribute to peace in some way,” said Emma Harper, one of the attendees at the seminar.

In his closing speech, Assoc Professor Kwok said that through the topics and discussions in this seminar, one is reminded of the hybridity and diversity of cultures we encounter daily at this juncture of world history. The organisers also wanted to look at discussions in a context specific to our region, hence we have invited speakers from countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia.

“The theme of this seminar is ‘global peace and understanding’. For me, the most important take-away is understanding ‘understanding’ better. ‘Understanding’ is a challenge and comes to one’s realisation incrementally when one meets more people or is exposed to other cultures,” added Professor Kwok.

He then ended his speech with the following words from SGI President Ikeda, “When human beings live together, conflict is inevitable. War is not.”


[Adapted from SSA Times issue 582]

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