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Anette Omdal Schmidt

Anette Omdal Schmidt is an Assistant Teacher at Fredly Folkehøgskole, teaching Intercultural studies and Charity. She has done charity work in Eastern Europe and Eastern Africa for two years in cooperation with charity organizations like KRIK and ZARA, promoting peace and stability in the slums of Kenya and Tanzania.

Interviewed by Tibo Colman, May 2015

“Peace” has so many different meanings, depending on what the context is. Peace on Earth, I think, is everybody's dream, but it is sadly not something we will achieve in the near future. We live in a selfish and materialistic world. But when I think of peace, I think first of all of inner peace and peace with the people around you. Being in a peaceful place means to treat others and be treated with respect and empathy. You need to have the ability to put yourself in the place of other people, see the situation from another perspective and be willing to give a helping hand so that others can achieve inner peace. People will notice that if you are willing to help others and put yourself in their shoes to better understand the situation. It will most likely raise their spirits and with your help they will have a better shot at living a better, peaceful, and more stable life.

This is more or less what we were trying to do when we were in Africa. We were curious about the “strange Swahili” culture. Instead of just reading about it, I chose to experience it and submerge myself in it, all the while helping the people I met. This is what I like to do, sending money without even leaving my home is not good enough for me. I like to let poverty stare me in the eyes so I can stare right back. We visited a number of institutions that try to create peace on a small scale. The organizations we worked with take care of the children in the slum areas of cities like Nairobi in Kenya and Arusha in Tanzania. To give a helping hand without expecting the people we help to give anything back in return gives me such a good feeling. Without my ability to do this and without understanding and empathy my efforts would have been futile.

Frankly, I could never tell you all about what needs to happen in the world to create a stable peace, but I can try. I believe it all starts with knowledge, like they say “Knowledge is Power”. The more we know, the more we can achieve and act based upon that knowledge. The problem is that more often than not, even though we know what needs to be done, we simply choose to not act. People choose to look away, to ignore the problem simply because it does not affect us personally. So knowledge is not everything we need, we also need interest and compassion, the will to solve the problems of the world. We need to learn to think “what if this was me” when seeing a person in need of help. I was thinking of the poor people in the world, but I think that this attitude is useful in when trying to solve a lot more problems than just poverty but to create peace in general.

People that study peace studies should learn all about human rights and the rights and needs of the individual. I think that peace studies is a difficult and intricate mix of courses and to me peace studies sounds very interesting. I think that this type of studies is for people that are willing to stretch far to create peace and justice. This type of studies should include courses about conflict resolution, human rights, law, ethics and values.