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Character Education

Workshop on Character Education in Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland - Members, guests and Ambassadors for Peace gathered at UPF’s Finnish headquarters September 6 and 7, 2008 to study and discuss education in the areas of character development and human relationships. Among the participants were teachers, psychologists, social workers, and a spiritual teacher. The workshop was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which included both deep prayer to God and a strong sense of belonging to one human family.

During the first session, "Education of Heart," members of the Youth Federation for World Peace shared their experiences of working with children and youth. Sarolta Peura talked about the education in the Tähtitarha daycare she has founded, and Jukka Paatero shared about his experiences as the chairman of the Youth at Sea Association. Both emphasized the importance of providing experience-based education of heart and emotion first in order to give children space to build their character.

In the second session, Stephen Stacey, author of Understanding Marriage, talked about universal principles as a foundation for developing character. He raised several points from his work with families and young people in Finland, giving particular attention to the importance of marriage and family relations.

The next speaker had just arrived from Israel in order to participate in the seminar. Dr. Yaron Ziv moved the hearts of participants and organizers alike by testifying about how his years as a professional therapist led him to understand the importance of educating character first. Dr. Ziv also shared his passion and work to promote this view to educational authorities such as the teachers’ union and the Minister of Education in Israel. At the end of the first day all participants discussed how the development of character could be promoted, both in their own families and in society.

On the second day, selected participants gathered to hear another presentation by Dr. Ziv on cross-cultural issues related to character education. After the lecture, Ambassador for Peace Ami Shachar offered the participants a special three-hour training session aimed to bring out the best of our unique personal characters.

The seminar, which was hosted by the Youth Federation for World Peace in Finland, left the participants asking for more and looking forward to the next gathering.

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