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‘Peacemaking isn’t for the fainthearted’ — Tenx9: Peace

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‘Peacemaking isn’t for the fainthearted’ — Tenx9: Peace
by Constance VICTOR
7 December 2020 

Tenx9 is a storytelling event where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their own life. Founded in Belfast in 2011 by Paul Doran and Padraig O Tuama, the event and its unique concept has now spread around the world. Approximately once every month, a theme is offered for the storytelling, and people gather together in order to share their unique experiences linked to the theme. 

On the 25th of November, more than 50 people joined the two-hour Zoom event in which nine people shared a memory of theirs in relation to the theme of peace. This month’s Tenx9 event teamed up with the Peace IV initiative, an EU funded cross-border initiative designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region. The goal is to bring stories of peace, and in particular paying attention to the steps taken to achieve peace, “whether in your home, your street, your neighbourhood, your community…” adds the event’s website. 

The participants came from all around the world. Some came from Austria, South Africa, the United States and many from Northern Ireland. As the nine stories were being progressively shared, a certain link could be made out which created a sense of similarity in the storytellers’ unique experiences with peace. It seemed as if many of those who were looking for peace found it through love. 

For example, a storyteller from Glasgow, Scotland, shared the story of how she met her very peaceful husband and how she found peace by falling in love with him. Another participant from Northern Ireland who had grown up during the Troubles, and who was of Catholic faith, shared the first time he kissed a Protestant at a summer camp, an event which made him realise that peace was easy to find when you looked in the right place. 

Many of the storytellers also shared stories linking war and peace, especially in relation to the Troubles. Another participant from Northern Ireland, who was studying in Southampton at the time, shared how he felt a strange feeling of distanciation from the conflict going on back home. As time passed, he experienced the tragedies linked to violence, and decided he wanted to teach as he thought it was the best way to jointly discuss and build peace. Twenty years later, he still loves bringing people together in order to discuss peace. 

“Peacemaking isn’t for the fainthearted; it’s a constant battle with learnt behavior,” he concluded. 

A woman originally from Northern Ireland but who was traveling in Europe in the 1980s shared with the listeners the moment she passed through Checkpoint Charlie and saw the Berlin wall crumble. As many were crying tears of joy as peace and reunification were occuring, the participant remembers feeling alone as she was crying at the fact that her home was still violently divided. She was frozen with flashbacks from checkpoints and soldiers in Belfast, and she remembers hoping that one day the peace that she witnessed in Berlin would be experienced in Northern Ireland. 

All in all, these stories demonstrated the flow of emotions experienced by the storytellers when they experienced firsthand peace, and the goal was to remind all listeners that peace can bring so much to life and can teach us valuable lessons for the future. 

If you wish to get a better grasp of the stories involved in the event, you can listen to the podcasts produced by Tenx9, which consist of an ensemble of stories that had been shared during previous events. Don’t hesitate to check out their upcoming events with new and unique themes.

Image: Berlin Wall © Allan LEONARD @MrUlster

Constance VICTOR
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