We are delighted to be hosting a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellow our new friend Bernadette Fernandez. Bernadette is visiting PJALS and Spokane from the Philippines, where she is Senior Peace Mission Leader  and Head of Secretariat with Teach Peace Build Peace Movement. She’s with us through mid-October.

Her organization advocates for the institutionalization of formal and informal peace education in the Philippines through implementation of peace education programs both in conflict and non-conflict areas. In order to better serve the communities she works with, Bernadette wants to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to implement more substantial and impactful peace education programs. Because of her love for peace and communications, she initiated Peace Hero Kids TV, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement’s online peace education platform for children. She sought a placement with an organization working on peace education and peace communication. While in her fellowship, Bernadette wishes to learn about peace integration in the curriculum, community development, intergroup communication, and organizational development.

Bernadette says: “One of my goals in this fellowship is to meet as many people and organizations as possible to hear their stories and learn about what they do and why they do what they do. Listening to people’s stories fuels me. It helps me widen my perspective and inspire me to improve our approach  on how we connect with the community.”

With the tagline “Making Every Filipino Child and Youth a Peace Hero,” Bernadette’s work is focused on working with children and educating the adults who support them (teachers, parents, and others) to be Peace Heroes in their communities. They also train members of the military with the goal of building trust with the community and preventing human rights violations through civic engagement and peaceful communication strategies. It’s been fascinating and impressive to learn about her work, and a delight to begin to get to know her.

We’re hosting Bernadette through a US Department of State program that has been run by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center of the University of Montana for the past 10 years – the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellows Program (YSEALI PFP).