One of our peacebuilding faculty member’s returned to his home country of Fiji, to take part in a workshop aimed at fostering a dialogue around racial discrimination. David Whippy, who tags each of his emails with the Martin Luther King Jr quote, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word,” is passionate about inclusion and harmony in his country. David previously worked for the organization Dialogue Fiji which hosts workshops focused on increasing awareness and facilitating discussion on national identity and how they might eliminate institutionalized racism, however now he teaches at BYU-Hawaii.
In the past, David facilitated these Dialogue Fiji workshops, however on this occasion, November 9-10, he took part alongside the other participants as one of them. This specific workshop addressed a common source of discrimination, the relationships between the Itaukei and Indo-Fijians. According to the final report of this dialogue, “Both [the Itaukei and Indo-Fijians are] strong identities that have links to generations and innate perceptions that shape their people. When people of strong cultures collide, there is conflict. For the sake of future generations, [the community] must learn to live peacefully with each other.” The dialogue invited academics, government leaders and members of the community to address these highly complex matters.
As the two day conference came to a close, David shared, “The forum was extremely useful for me as a peacebuilding academic. I wanted to maintain ties to practitioners in the field and was able to learn of how they had ‘actioned’ theory in activities with grassroots communities, civil society, and government. I feel that unless I continue to nurture the relationship between academic theories and application on the ground, the teaching that I do will not be practical and therefore not of use to my students.” David's focus was not only to help and promote peace in his home country, but to bring his learning back to his students so they too might succeed.