Birgitte Nielsen is a retired teacher who has worked in all levels of education in the Danish public school system. In 1989, she moved to Faaborg, in the South of Denmark, where she and her husband volunteered at events promoting Prem Rawat’s message of peace. In 2013, they began working with the Peace Education Program.
Faaborg is a quaint seaside town in Denmark, where we have just finished the fifth season of the Peace Education Program (PEP) at the AOF, which means the “Workers Education Union.” AOF is a national union that offers continuing education for adults. My husband, Jørgen, takes care of audio-visual for the PEP classes and I facilitate them. We have had seven courses since we started.
When people consider joining PEP, they obviously wonder what it is. They are often curious to the point of suspicion. Some are afraid of being manipulated, even though the course is described in the advertisement sent out by AOF. There are so many different types of courses for “self-development” that people often have preconceived ideas of what PEP is. As they attend the workshops, they soon realize that it is about discovering peace for themselves and developing their own understanding, and they begin to relax.
This course can only be understood by participating.
We have witnessed many participants express thankfulness for how the courses highlighted their own human resources. And we have observed how important it is for them to be able to express themselves.
To see someone go from suspicious to relaxed, and transform into a more enriched and open person, is amazing. We have a list of more than a hundred quotes from attendees and every one is different.
The conversation at the end of each workshop is an essential aspect of PEP. When participants put what they have just learned into their own words, they take ownership of their understanding.
Jørgen and I consider ourselves participants as well. We discover something new in each session, especially through the privilege of listening to what is expressed by other people.
The next step is to put our understanding into action, to make it practical. Since we both have retired, we spend a lot of time together, so we can see how our learning impacts each other. My husband and I have become closer and we feel free to give one another feedback. Working together with PEP has made Prem Rawat’s words become a reality in our lives.
When facilitating PEP, we have to set aside our own perspectives and ideas and avoid giving explanations and corrections or acting as if we are authorities on Prem’s message. We have to respect everyone’s understanding and let it have its own pace of development.
I have been listening to Prem Rawat for years and have always enjoyed how incredible his words made me feel. But I must admit, thanks to the Peace Education Program, now I really understand more about what he has been saying. Now I can try to live it.
These are a few quotes expressing the individual experiences some participants had, chosen from the latest season of PEP here in AOF, Svendborg, Denmark:
“We do not learn this in school—that it is all inside and we do not have to look for it in other people.”
“It is so nice to talk about this and to be in a forum where you are understood.”
”This is good! If I have compassion for myself, I will be in peace with myself and others.”