All posts by Shwetangna Chakrabarty

Shwetangna Chakrabarty is an International educator currently working in Guangzhou, China. She has 15 years of experience in teaching different curricula in different countries and continents. She has held multiple responsibility positions as an international educator; Curriculum Coordinator, University Counsellor, Extended Essay and Personal Project Coordinator, CIS/NEASC/IB Accreditation Coordinator, IBEN Member. She teaches mathematics and business management to the International GCSE and International Baccalaureate (IB) students. Her education credentials include MBA, PGCE(I), B.Ed. and BCA. She writes blogs for The International Educator and the IB. She is also the contributing author for international publications like 'Bringing Innovative Practices to Your School' a Taylor & Francis Group and Routledge publication and 'Educational Reform and International Baccalaureate in the Asia-Pacific' an IGI Global Publication. She is passionate about developing a culture of internationalism and be a change-maker and thought leader in international education.

What Did We Miss?

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It is almost three years since the pandemic hit and we are still grappling with the reality of what teaching and learning looks and feels like in the current context. As we are picking up the remains of an education system we knew, we are slowly coming to terms with what we missed in the past three years.

I asked myself the question: What Did We Miss? as I was having an important conversation with my son about his university choices. My son was in year 9 when the pandemic hit, and he started online school/classes in February 2020. He missed social interactions, he missed school lunchtime, he missed sports tournaments, he missed music ensembles and performances, he missed a lot of things, a lot! Most importantly he missed out on learning collaboratively, a very effective pedagogical approach to learning. The pandemic robbed us of the most important teaching and learning strategy-learning by collaboration.

I asked myself the question: What Did We Miss? when I was talking with my ex-students who could not go to university in 2020 due to the pandemic. They shared with me that they missed the graduation ceremony; transitioning to university; moving to a new country for higher studies; making new friends. They missed a lot! Most importantly living the dream of getting into the university of their choice. Dreams were shattered and yet we did not realize the residual effect of what we missed. Three or four years of undergraduate learning from a university of your choice is probably the biggest dream a student has, did we ever realize how much was lost and missed? Are we keeping a track of what we missed so we can make up later? Can we make up for what we missed in the past three years?

I asked myself the question: What Did We Miss? when I was reviewing the school policies with the school senior leadership team. We added sections and procedures into the policy documents that were never considered necessary earlier. For example, in the case of school closure the exams will…; in the case of body temperature over…; in the case of travelling outside the province…; in the case of online teaching and learning…; in the case of school trip cancellation…We missed a lot! Most importantly life experiences that become happy memories; like studying together for exams; discussing the exam questions after the test; going on school trips; having parents on campus; going on field trips. We lost and we missed out on learning by experiencing-experiential learning.

I asked myself the question: What Did We Miss? when I was talking to a colleague who is separated from her child for the past two and half years. I could relate to the pain as I am separated from my husband for the same amount of time. As a family we missed eating dinner together; going to movies together; going on holidays; celebrating birthdays, and anniversaries; taking care of each other; we missed a lot! Most importantly we missed the protection of love and warmth that a family offers during a crisis. My son did not have his father during his interschool matches, music performance, or middle school graduation and yet we carried on. The pandemic snatched away these precious moments that parents reminisce about their child’s school life. Will we get this back, no, never! Like me and my colleague, we will never completely know what did we miss?

Little cracks develop on the surface of the porcelain when it has lived a long life, telling us about its experiences and longevity. It also remins us of a grim reality of the time lapsed during this journey, that the cracks will lead to a break. What we missed in the past three years are cracks on the surface; we are yet to ascertain the break this will cause in teaching and learning. It is like knowing something is missing yet not able to pinpoint on the exact thing that is missing. What Did We Miss-A lot, Everything and Something!

Find a Critical Friend

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Finding a friend is easy but a critical friend can be a lifelong quest! A critical friend is someone who asks you critical questions about your work. Yes, a critical friend is a colleague who you can trust to discuss the success or outcome of your work without inhibitions. The critical friend will have your professional objective as their priority and will guide you accordingly. A critical friend is your own ‘guide on the side’. The term critical friend was first coined in the context of education during the era of critical pedagogy. 

A critical friend can also be a mentor who guides you through your professional journey. Therefore finding a critical friend is absolutely necessary. They will help you to critically analyze your work and give you feedback to improve. Does this sound familiar? I am sure it does, it is the role a teacher plays in a student’s learning journey. Hence it is fair to say that teachers are a student’s critical friends. 

The easiest way to encourage teachers, school leaders and administrators to find a critical friend is to reform the appraisal system to a culture of coaching and mentoring. This will ensure every professional has a mentor, coach or critical friend. This critical friend does not have to be an expert in the field, they only need to be someone who is honest and can be trusted. They will help you in your self-evaluation, discuss your challenges, and strengths and highlight areas for growth and development. Interestingly this can’t be reciprocated, you cannot be a critical friend of your critical friend!

Let us try to imagine how this would work in a professional setting. As an educator, we always set timely objectives or smart goals for ourselves. At the beginning of the year, we try to plan ahead and create a few success parameters. As time goes by we tend to forget our objectives and sometimes get complacent about our success pathways. This is why we need someone who can keep us focused and committed to our objectives. This is when the critical friend intervenes and helps to stay on track. There are various ways they can help; by reminding us about our objectives; critiquing our approaches; analysing our achievements; encouraging our successes; and simply reminding us about upcoming deadlines. This is a beautiful relationship of trust and commitment where both parties understand their roles and fulfil their responsibilities with due diligence. Hence all of us need a critical friend.

In the quest of finding a critical friend, it is most important to remember what not to do. Do not choose someone who only finds faults; do not choose critical friends who directly report to you, they might not be comfortable criticising their supervisor; do not expect your critical friend to provide solutions to your problems, their role is to motivate you to find solutions to the problems. Choose someone who listens, does not jump to conclusions, and shows empathy and kindness. 

It may sound very difficult to get a critical friend, so think of it this way, if you can be a critical friend to a colleague, you can also find one for yourself. 

How to identify a critical friend? Think of a social media analogy, when you post a selfie the whole world reacts to it but when you post an achievement none or only a few react. This means there are only a few people who think critically and truly care about what you have to say. So find those few who react to meaningful conversations instead of those who applaud meaningless achievements.

In real life too a true friend is hard to find, a friend whom you can call up anytime for advice or just for no reason. A 2.00 am friend, a non-judgemental friend, an honest and truthful friend.  A friend who is critical as well as complimentary. If you have a friend who satisfies all the above requirements you are truly blessed. Similarly, in professional life, you can be truly blessed if you find a critical friend.

Let it stay-the gun

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At the tip of a gun

Is the story of many

The bullet that is nested in its womb

Does not want to see the day

Let it stay.

For once delivered it will never return

Never bring back all that it snatches

Lives, memories, trust, innocence, love, peace, sanity, soul, family

When you have so much to say and yet you cannot say

Let it stay.

For there will be no order for it to stay.

There will be no one to put a stop

As it brings our world to a stop

I stop and wonder, is this why I go on

To see the bullet rip into the gone

Let it stay.

The bullet speaks to me, begs me

Don’t build any more schools as guns will not go away

Kill it all before it kills a child, the school or the gun, kill it

The bullet wants to be buried and returned to ashes

Before it buries more

Let it stay.

For the pain will stay and this pain will rise

Rise and revenge will call a gun again

The bullet told us so, kill or it will kill you

When will it stop, never as it waits in the womb of a gun

To be released, to be lodged, to be validated for this reason or that

Let it stay.

It will rise again, kill again, and laugh at us

Who take it with open arms, die for it, kill for it

We created it to protect us, from what?

Our children, our brothers, our sisters

Yes, we did, and we made our enemies the day we got the gun

Let it stay.

Give it another day and it will take us all

For it was born to destroy and it will take us all

For no time machine or words of sympathy

Can bring back the gone, the young and the lost

They die and we kill another one

Let it stay.

The memory of the hurt and pain don’t forget

For it shall raise the gun again

And spare none, this time it will be you yes you and your child.

How do you feel? Keep a gun to protect yourself and kill someone?

But the bullet is for your child, the blood is of your child

What did you save and what did you kill? Think and

Let it stay.

The feeling that this is enough, let it stay.

The crushing sadness of loss, let it stay.

The blood on the hands, let it stay.

The memories of the day, let it stay.

I have a lot to say but I will let it stay.

Let it stay-the gun.

What is your single story?

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Recently I was showing my senior students Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk The Danger of a Single Story. This led to an interesting discussion on ‘Single Stories’. As per Adichie, a single story is a one-sided perspective of something or someone. Single stories have the power to create false interpretations of the actual story. She coins the term Nkali to describe the power that creates false one-sided interpretations. For example, single stories about India narrate spicy food and dirty cities; Americans are plagued with gun violence; South Americans are suffering from never-ending substance abuse; African countries are underdeveloped and unhygienic. These single stories develop as we keep believing the same narratives without uncovering the whole context of the narrative. Also, single stories are fed to us by powerful lobbies or political rhetoric that are purposefully constructed to hide the whole story.

Going back to the original discussion with my students, I decided to do a critical reflection about single stories. I invited students to think about their single stories with the following two questions:

  • What is your single story?
  • How/why is it created?

Interestingly it was not easy to answer these two questions, hence I decided to give them a task in groups to identify a current issue that they know from a single perspective only and to look for a counter perspective of the same issue. For example, illegal immigrants, jobs being taken by foreigners, ivy league universities, the world wars etc. This strategy stirred up a lot of conversations and helped students to identify some of their single stories:

  • Thin is beautiful
  • Top universities better jobs
  • Ukraine is unjustified but Iraq is justified
  • China is a communist country
  • Diet to lose weight
  • Japanese are suicidal
  • French people are snobs
  • Women are weak
  • Showing skin is asking for it
  • Men should not cry

These are some of the examples my students came up with. This made me think, do I have a single story, yes, I do. My single story is-iPhones are the best! It struck me hard as I always believed that iPhones are the best phones, I have never bothered to look or research other phones in the market. I have created a single story that even makes me get into the debate of android vs IOS with my close friends and family! This is an insignificant example. The bigger danger of single stories is far more disturbing as it harbours inequality and prejudice. These stories generalize and marginalize people and justify a culture of dominance, discrimination and indifference.

Single stories can be challenged by recognising the purpose and the people behind propagating these one-sided stories. Another of avoiding single stories is to develop nuanced thinking-accepting multiple perspectives. Critical thinking isn’t enough, it must be complemented with nuanced thinking. This will help widen our perspectives and embrace conflicting points of view.

I leave you with a simple exercise, next time you meet a person from a different culture, religion, language or ethnicity, try not to assume or generalize their persona. Take the leap of faith and challenge dogmas that have penetrated your psyche. Single stories have the power to distort your mind, spirit and even soul, crush them before they crush you. Introspect today and answer my question ‘What is your single-story?’

Mother’s Day not Mothers’ Day!

All the Best Mother's Day Gift Ideas 2022 | The Strategist
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The world celebrated Mother’s Day today to honour motherhood. I saw posts and messages like-“to all mothers out there”, ” for all aunts, sisters and grandmothers”, and ” for the wonderful women who are our mothers”…And the greatest irony-it is celebrated only once a year! Why not once a month, once a week or every day? I know this is a debated topic, some believe that we get a day to make our mums feel special and others believe it undermines the value of being a mother as they are only celebrated once a year.

Another question-why don’t we celebrate Father’s Day with equal diligence? Do we love mums more than dads? This can’t be right! So, what is the reason we get so worked up to celebrate Mother’s Day? I personally think Mother’s Day is a great business strategy. Anything sells if it is packaged with emotions that tug your heartstrings and compel you to take immediate action. Many companies have done good business selling merchandise for Mother’s Day, others have increased engagement on social media due to the flurry of posts that suddenly appear to remember mothers.

Apart from good business what else does this day bring to light? It brings to light the irony behind this type of celebration, that it creates more discord and discontent than true celebration. It is funny how this day creates sibling rivalry as they compete to impress their mums. It is sad how this day reminds and pains women who cannot be mums or have lost their child/ren. It is obnoxious how children wish their mums on social media yet forget to call or visit. It is confusing for those who genuinely love their mums and do not want to be public about their feelings. It is giddy for mums who know that this will only last a day. It is worst for mothers whose children have disowned them. So, what is the benefit of commemorating only a day to honour and celebrate motherhood?

The idea should be to educate our younger generation to strengthen the bond of respect and love towards one’s mum instead of making it a public mimicry of giddy emotions and caricature of the very essence of motherhood. Teaching ourselves about the special bond with parents, mother and father, and how to celebrate them every day. Learning to be better parents every day would be an attempt to truly celebrate or honour motherhood.

Also, celebrating and honouring a mother would be meaningful if we give equal due to a woman who is a mother and does not have to be anything else. A mother does not have to be juggling life and work; a mother does not have to choose between her child and financial stability; a mother does not have to give birth if she doesn’t want to. The day a mother has these privileges and choices she will truly feel celebrated and honoured.

Interestingly, people forget that “Mother’s” in Mother’s Day is a singular possessive, for each family to honour its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world. So what have you done today to actually celebrate Mother’s Day not Mothers’ Day?

International Teachers-A Rare Breed in China

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With Covid resurging in China, a new challenge has snowballed towards international schools in China-Teacher Retention. International teachers are leaving the countries due to two main reasons-the uncertainty of seeing their family members/crossing borders, and the uncertainty of the dynamic Covid situation. The recent lockdown in Shanghai and Beijing has been the last straw to an already existing condition of mental exhaustion from isolation.

It is to be noted that all the expat teachers working in China would absolutely like to continue working here due to the many perks we enjoy in this wonderful country-safety and security, competitive salaries, quality of life, and access to superior technology and infrastructures. Hence this is a rather tough decision that many teachers have to take whilst they would like to continue living and working in China.

How will this change the international education landscape in China? This will impact small schools that might have to close operations. The well-established schools will have to adopt innovative ways to survive this shortage of international teachers as recruiting from abroad is still not possible. This will impact the quality of the international curriculum being delivered in the schools. It will also bring less economy to the country as many expat families will and are already deciding to pull out their children from schools to send them back to their home countries. This will disrupt the ideal teacher to student ratio in international schools in China. Quality of teaching will be compromised as schools are forced to recruit teachers who do not have the experience of teaching internationally. Globally this will mean there will be more unemployed teachers looking for jobs in the next two years as they are leaving China in spite of not having secured a job. This means salaries are unlikely to be reviewed by school boards as they have many takers for the same position.

International schools in China need to implement measures to survive this exodus of qualified, experienced international teachers. They need to retain existing staff by offering perks or retention benefits; they need to reduce their subject offerings to focus on quality over quantity; they need to invest in upskilling of newly recruited teachers who are replacing the experienced ones; schools need to be transparent with stakeholders to get support and buy-in of unfavourable decisions; they need to create support groups for existing teachers to seek social-emotional support during times of extreme crisis.

International teachers have become a rare breed in China – schools are struggling to fill up the void left by the mass exodus of teachers this year. For those staying back, this means wearing multiple hats for the next few years as they will have to take on more responsibilities. This will lead to burnout that could lead to more teachers leaving next year and the year after and the year after, making us a rare breed in China.

How Critical is Critical Race Theory?

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Critical race theory or CRT has been in the debate recently with many places in the United States banning the introduction of CRT in schools. For example, Florida banned teaching CRT in schools in 2021. Why is it critical to ban teaching it? How critical is CRT? What is CRT?

CRT is explained as a critical analysis of the existing policies in a nation, from a race-based point of view, or it can be understood as a framework used to challenge racism and the impact of structural racism on society.

The idea is to introduce this in curricula to allow young minds to critically think about how racism is embedded into legal policies and how it impacts discrimination overall. CRT argues that racism is created by social structures like the policies that govern a state. These socio-political structures are erected with laws to support racial segregation.

So why is it being vehemently ruled out of school curricula to the extent that some teachers got arrested and some lost their jobs as they were trying to teach about the root cause of racial segregation? As per the CRT narrative, the root cause of racial segregation is not race; it is the discriminatory laws and policies that force segregation based on skin colour, ethnicity and other differences.

Policies and legal structures are the foundation of social harmony; they are supposed to be neutral; to treat all citizens equally; hence any kind of otherness in legal frameworks and state policies forms cracks in the foundation of harmonious societal systems. CRT compels us to peruse racial hierarchy and racially structures critically, to think about what causes discrimination and how it can be reformed.

But the recent uproar against CRT introduction in the school curriculum has opened another debate and maligns the true purpose of studying CRT. This has now become a political debate and like any other issue when politicians get to decide we never win.

It seems there is fear about raising consciousness amongst young learners that structural inequality and structural racism have become societal practices. A fear that if this is being taught in schools it will lead to negative reactions towards the whites. The fear of CRT, and its ban is ridiculous, unparliamentary, anti-democratic and more like a dystopian behaviour that stems from fear of losing supremacy.

The strong argument against teaching CRT is that it will portray a certain group of people negatively, hence cannot be taught. But that is not the CRT – it is rather the critical reflection on discriminatory laws and practices not toward people. We need to remember and make it very clear that racism does not manifest by people treating each other differently, it is manifested by unequal laws and biased legal structures. Banning CRT makes it worse as it affirms the wrong that exists in society. So, my question is: How is it ok to build structures of discrimination against people of colour negatively, and how it is not okay to talk about it? I am amused by the fear generated by the thought of including CRT in the syllabus, whilst completely ignoring the fear generated by racial abuse.

In very simple terms, think about it in this way: gender discrimination exists – it should be part of the school curricula to teach about laws and policies that propagate gender discrimination. This discrimination doesn’t exist because there are different genders, it exists because there are policies and rules that are created and implemented to support the male gender. This does not mean we start discriminating against men, but it does mean we learn about the laws and policies that created gender discrimination and get rid of them.

To answer the question: how critical is critical race theory? It is critical to teach it; to start thinking critically about what causes division, discrimination, alienation and subjugation of minorities and people of colour. It is not about race – it is about discriminatory practices in our legal and social structure. The sooner we critically reflect on them, the better for a peaceful world.

Trapped in Echo Chambers?

Purpose of education as quoted by John Dewey,

“The aim of education is growth; the aim of growth is more growth.”

This is an inspirational quote as it talks about intellectual growth and echos the purpose of education as growth and further growth. But in the current context, this quote is challenged by the ever-growing dominance of echo chambers. Echo chambers can be explained as self-created ecosocial habitats where one encounters like-minded people with similar perspectives, ideas and opinions. These echo chambers have exponentially multiplied in the past two decades due to many reasons and one of them being the growing dominance of social media.

The challenge is to know if you are trapped in an echo chamber? A simple psychological litmus test will spit out the answer for you, here are a few questions:

  1. Do you surround yourself with people who support the same political ideology?
  2. Have you lived in one place for over 15 years?
  3. Are you part of like-minded social media groups?
  4. Are you friends with people who share ideas, perspectives, likes and dislikes similar to yours?
  5. Do you passionately defend your perspective?

If you have answered ‘yes’ three times or more you might be creating and living in echo chambers. You are in danger of stunting your intellectual growth by feeding on confirmation bias within these echo chambers. Break free! Take this an urgent plea and wake up call to reflect on your perspectives, beliefs, opinions and ideas and audit their validity by deflating the echo chambers.  You can break free of these echo chambers that are reinforcing your existing ideas and perspectives to create mental walls towards other people’s perspectives and ideas. The echo chambers create a mental wall that completely blocks the exchange of new ideas since you prefer staying trapped inside these chambers.

Recognising the existence of echo chambers is the first step toward breaking free of bias, stereotypes and discriminating ideas. Then the question arises, how does one get out of these echo chambers. A few simple strategies will help you avoid and escape the trap of echo chambers. 

  1. Make some ‘weird’ friends! I use the word ‘weird’ as we tend to associate it with the unknown. People who speak differently, and think differently are not weird, infact they would be a great starting point to escape echo chambers. 
  2. Listen to the ‘absurd’! I use the word ‘absurd’ as we tend to associate it with contradicting perspectives. Listen to multiple perspectives; when debating or discussing complex ideas make a habit of listening not countering. The next step is to make a note of all the different ideas and make an effort to present your ideas without contradicting others.
  3. Burst the ‘filter bubble’! I use the term ‘filter bubble’ which refers to technology, artificial intelligence and social media conspiracy. This conspiracy reinforces your existing ideas and filters away new ideas forcing you to decay in monotony instead of growing in multiplicity.
  4. Make fun of yourself! I use this term to reinforce the need to find your sense of humour. Do not be afraid of being contradicted, infact challenge your own perspectives by critically ridiculing them. As a wise man once said, “ Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.
  5. Like the ‘unlikeable’! I use the term ‘unlikeable’ as we tend to preconceive what we like and do not like hence defining the ‘unlikeable’. Try giving a ‘like’ to an idea or perspective that you don’t endorse or believe in. This will bring down the echo chamber algorithm that is fed into every social media site and internet interaction to imprison your thoughts and intellectual freedom.

Echo chambers are particularly harmful in academia, they kill the pursuit of knowledge through inquiry. Therefore getting out of them is an urgent need, it is ceasing our growth and the growth of an intelligent species called humans. Echo chambers are amplified by technology; recognise it and save yourself by being more inclusive, open-minded and cognitive divergence.

Hope for Peace; Cope with War

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In the past weeks, I have had many conversations with my students from many parts of the world about War. In many classrooms across the world, the Ukraine crisis has opened up many wounds that are difficult to heal. Being in a diverse international environment allows us educators the opportunity to listen to multiple perspectives; most of the time we agree to disagree whilst respecting each other’s perspectives to find a commonality in our understanding of the greater good or the bigger picture. But war forces us to take sides, no matter how much we have suffered through relentless conflict we continue to inflict pain and misery as we take sides.

A Russian student taking the side of her country cannot be dismissed. It is a challenging situation when the cause and effect are conflicting, for example, the student understands that war is not good yet justifies a war led by her country due to social, cultural and personal perspectives. At the same time, some students have been victims of war over the past five decades; students from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Armenia and many more countries, who have been displaced from their motherlands.

We hope that peace will prevail, but all we do is cope with war with no coping mechanism. As educators, we are empowered to influence and teach young minds. One of the most important things to teach students is to cope with extreme situations and environments or was. War brings a known enemy to your doorstep, whether you are directly or indirectly impacted by war, this enemy does not differentiate, it is called fear.  This fear destroys our young who have to endure a level of anxiety that is unavoidable and omnipresent.  So what can we do? We can teach to cope and hope for peace.

Here are a few simple strategies I discussed with my students to help them deal with the fear, anger, anxiety and pain caused by war.

Stay Away from Fake News: In times of crisis, it is very easy to get addicted to News. Even worse as most of the information is biased and sometimes a deep fake. Fake news misinforms, misinterprets and misleads the viewer to a state of fear. Fear sells, the electronic and digital media have mastered the art of selling fear through fake news. Overconsumption of fake news leads to a permanent state of anxiety, so stay away.

Learn to Pivot: In times of uncertainty, the ability to pivot or deal with change is an asset. War cripples daily life and impacts the availability of basic resources. This means we need to adapt quickly to survive the unexpected, or pivot to survive the unexpected. Teach students the ability to pivot, plan for contingency and prepare for a crisis situation.

Find a Happy Place: In times of acute distress, finding a happy place requires one to muster up all the positive experiences in their life. To keep mental sanity, one has to have a happy place; it could be the feeling when you hug your loved ones; the feeling when you spend time with family; the feeling of your first love/crush; the feeling of smelling the spring in the air; the feeling of the aroma of freshly baked cake; the feeling of being happy. Find your happy place, it will help you to navigate the feeling of distress and helplessness.

Take a deep breath: Learn to take a deep breath, practise controlling your thoughts and avoid your triggers. This can be done via meditation or practising to stay calm, it could be through something that helps you focus, like painting, playing an instrument or even singing aloud. Allow your brain to focus on the positives to control your thoughts. 

Keep the hope alive: Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “Where there is hope there is life”. This was written at a time when Anne was caught in one of the most horrific conflicts in the history of mankind. It was hope that kept her alive and has kept her memory alive. Without hope, there would be no Anne Frank’s diary-a testament to resilience, perseverance and courage. In many senses, hope is courage, hope is life and hope is peace. To survive a war we need hope we need peace.

Wherever and whoever you are in the world, teach yourself and your younger generation these coping strategies. As the war rages hope will rise above the ashes of destruction and desperation to usher the wave of peace.

Will We Ever See The End of War?

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The battle in Ukraine makes one wonder, will we ever see the end of War?

I have always prayed for the war to end since childhood, I prayed for the war to end as my dad was in the armed forces. He had a long career in the Indian army as a doctor and commanding officer with many accolades to his name. He was often posted near the border, where he had to stay away from his family (me and my ma) for prolonged periods of time, and I always prayed for his safety. I prayed for everyone’s safety, I prayed to be able to see my dad again, I prayed for peace, and I have continued to do so like many around the world.

Like me, many are still desperately praying, but who is listening to our pleas and prayers? War in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Palestine, in Somalia, and now, in Ukraine. It never ends. Infact, we have managed to create a generation of orphans and refugees. It is said that no one wants war, so why have we not ended it once and for all? Why is it impossible to avoid conflict? What forces people to take up arms against each other? Why is it ok to sacrifice the young in war? Why do we never learn from the past?Will we ever see the end of War?

There is a way. The only way to end war is to end investing in armies! A country without an army, a continent without an army, and a world without an army. Is it too much to ask for? We have to stop investing in war, stop funding armies, stop profiteering through arms, and stop pseudo patriotism.

Sending young people to die in the name of patriotism is the biggest crime the world has let go unnoticed. Vindictive patriotism only rouses hatred against others, the pseudo patriotic sentiments sold in blockbuster movies brainwash people and they refuse to see reason. Eventually, patriotism evolves into jingoism. Hence we see no end to War. If we want to end the destruction, we need to get rid of all armies along with pseudo patriotism.

There are many statistics to support warfare, funded by our never-ending lust for power and wealth, but there are also many stories of women, men, and children dying. Unlike the people that start it, war doesn’t discriminate who it takes. Ultimately, we need to decide what we let control our decisions – meaningless statistics or the stories of sacrifice. We need to lift the blindfold that years of politics, jingoism, capitalism, and patriotism have shrouded us in. We need to unite as One World – No Army, No War. Else the end of world is closer than the end of war.