Peace Culture Programs in Brazil – Strategies to Improve the Learning of Youth

(Reposted from: Fora Da Caixa Coletivo)

Research and Intervention developed by the team of the Coletivo Cultural Fora da Caixa, in partnership with Educandário and Instituto André Luiz, in Sorocaba, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.

By Regina M. Gomes de Proença, Master in Communication and Culture from the University of Sorocaba


In this article are the updated results obtained with two Culture of Peace programs: Education for Peace and Leadership for the Future. Both programs were carried out by the team members of the Cultural Collective (Out of the Box) Fora da Caixa in 2018 and 2019. The results are partial because the projects are in the process of multiplication and expansion in 2020. Here we presented the main observations, the activities that had the greatest impact, the topics of study, videos, photos, the answers obtained in the questionnaires and essays written by the participants. Our team of facilitators is composed of trained individuals or in the process of training in the Education for Peace program, held at the headquarters of the Cultural Collective Fora da Caixa. The Education for Peace program aims to train teachers, educators, managers and individuals interested in learning how to deal with situations of bullying, racial prejudice, religious intolerance and crises inside and outside the school context, using several strategies of peace culture, philosophy, mindfulness and self-knowledge. The Leadership for the Future program has been implemented with 24 children between 06 and 12 years old and 40 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old, who are students of the Educational Institute André Luiz. Both programs aim a secular, social, emotional and ethical learning, cultivating the emotional intelligence, resilience and’ moral development through empathy, compassion, altruism and self-knowledge; strengthening positive values ​​such as cooperation, responsibility, generosity and respect; developing greater autonomy, attention span, concentration, social skills and ethical posture.

Keywords: social education; emotional education; ethic; mindfulness; compassion; nonviolence; education for peace; emotional intelligence.

1. Introduction

This article is the result of the implementation of two programs carried out by the team of the Cultural Collective Fora da Caixa: “Education for Peace” and “Leadership for the Future”. The first is composed of individuals who are part of the facilitators team of the Cultural Collective Fora da Caixa and the second was carried out with students from the Education Institute André Luiz, an innovative and supportive institution that enhances the learning of children and young people from the public school system in the city of Sorocaba, S.P., Brazil. Both programs follow the same foundations: an education framework that values ​​dialogue, ethics, compassion and the spirit of service. Our world is currently facing a crisis of human values; every day, an abyss divides people into isolated groups. This increases discrimination, intolerance, violence and aggressions due to religious beliefs, skin color or sexual orientation and cases of bullying, which also are more and more frequent.

Our team is convinced that it is not enough to create a society of people who are materially successful but who are not committed to the caring of the planet, do not cultivate good relations with their community and do not have self-knowledge to deal with internal issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. Unfortunately, we have seen lately a significant increase in the rate of emotional disorders and suicides among young people.

2. Objectives

The general objectives are: to develop with the participants the skills of dialogue, mediation for peaceful conflict resolution; strengthen empathy and self-control; promote the appreciation of diversity; promote socio-emotional and ethical learning and social-emotional intelligence. We encourage participants to engage in the search for solutions to social, environmental and ethical problems.

The specific objectives are: to reduce complaints of violence and prejudice within the school; reduction of absence due to situations related to stress, bullying and lack of motivation; greater ability to accept differences and deal with situations of psychological and social vulnerability; promote tolerance, dialogue and peace in the school environment; integrate teachers, administrators, students and parents in joint activities such as field trips, joint efforts, festivities and charity campaigns.

2.1. Methodology

“Education for Peace” is an innovative program created by Regina Proença, philosopher and educator with more than twenty-five years of experience and work in the field of ​​Education and Peace Culture programs.

The group of facilitators working in the programs began their studies in 2015, with fortnightly meetings of 3 hours at the headquarters of the Cultural Collective Fora da Caixa, where they studied philosophy, neuroscience, meditation and the strategies of peace culture and non-violence created and used by Mahatma Gandhi. After 3 years of training in program “Education for Peace”, the participants became facilitators and are currently part of our team and work in the “Leadership for the Future” program.

The “Leadership for the Future” program is an innovative pilot program divided into 3 cycles: social, emotional and ethical. It was held biweekly, with a duration of four hours, from June to November 2018 and February to November 2019, at the headquarters of Educandário and Instituto André Luiz, which offers classes after or before the school shift for children and young people who study at public schools and stand out academic performance and potential, good behavior and good grades. At “Educandário” they have classes of 10 subjects present in the mandatory national school curriculum, plus English, Spanish, Chess, Computer Programing and the Leadership for the Future program. The main purpose of the institution is to enhance students’ academic performance and help them to get scholarships at good private schools, for elementary, high school and / or university. The sample of this program was composed of 64 participants aged between 06 and 17 years old.

Main Topics of the Cycles:

The “social” cycle mainly deals with social movements for civil rights that used non-violence strategies created by Mahatma Gandhi and the content is presented through documentaries, films, lectures, texts and workshops.

The “emotional” cycle introduces contemplative practices of meditation, attention, concentration and several strategies for dealing with disturbing emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression and stress. Recent researches on neuroscience, emotional intelligence, self-compassion, compassion and altruism are explored.

The “ethical” cycle brings reflections to students on the main existential choices and motivates participants to engage in direct actions that promote the common good, that improve living conditions on the planet and directly benefit the community with local actions but with global vision.

We share readings of wisdom stories, tales and myths and watch documentaries about philosophy, education, ecology, human rights, etc.

We strongly believe in the power of dialogue and group reflection to offer healthy models of coexistence, self-improvement, empowerment, honor and human values. In this cycle we approach transversal themes such as: happiness, life purpose, leadership, vocation, ethics, ecology, education, relationships, health and quality of life.

2.2. Results Evaluation

The results of the program are measured using the following instruments: unstructured observation, unstructured interview, evaluation questionnaires, oral presentation, group work in the classroom and essays. Each meeting is carried out by one or two facilitators, who coordinates the activities and carry out the unstructured observation, recording the important points that emerged and personal observations to improve the project (some of the meetings are filmed and photographed). Afterwards, the results are evaluated in team meetings, to verify if the program is reaching the defined objectives and to improve the performance of the facilitators.

The interviews are conducted during the meetings, in a conversation circle format and / or through individual meetings. At the end of each cycle, an open questionnaire is applied where students must comment their perceptions about the themes and activities presented during the meetings. Stress assessment, mindfulness, self-compassion and burnout questionnaires are also applied at the beginning and at the end of the program. These instruments assist us in assessing the impact of the “Education for Peace” and “Leadership for the Future” programs (PIRES et al., 2015).

As a way of spreading and expanding knowledge about the program’s framework, we have published in our digital magazine Openzine some results of the meetings with the description of the themes, photos and videos of the activities carried out in order to inspire other educators in creating a curriculum that promotes an education based on human values, ethics and non-violence.

2.3. Program Structure

The program is not linear; the themes are presented through expository classes, group dynamics, video presentation, text reading, conversation circles, meditation and relaxation practices. There are 3 main dimensions in the program: “Me with myself”, “Me with others” and “Me with the planet”. The mains questions approached at each cycles are:

2.3.1. Me with myself

How can we get to know each other better and develop qualities that can help reduce anxiety, stress? How to get motivated to change negative habits and replace them with healthy actions? How can we be happy and self-realized? How to make better choices and plan for the future we want? What do I do with my life?

2.3.2. Me with others

How can I improve the quality of my relationships? How to dialogue without arguing? How can I interact with my family and friends being authentic and avoid unnecessary conflicts? How can I free myself from the weight of others’ opinions and live peacefully with differences?

2.3.3. Me with the planet

How to mobilize the largest number of people in protecting the planet? How to actively participate in movements to help noble causes, such as: saving lives, caring for abandoned animals, eco-citizenship actions, helping with fundraising campaigns and donations to welfare entities, get involved in creating community gardens, planting trees, joint efforts, virtual campaigns, etc.

3. Benefits

One of the many benefits of the programs is the creation of a favorable and harmonious environment among teachers, students and the community, strengthening affection bonds; decreasing social and psychological vulnerability; decreasing the dropout rate, strengthening self-confidence in relation to the academic and socio-emotional potential of each one. Among the topics of study and activities for developing these competencies are:

  • The study of the nature of the mind and body, recent researches in the field of neuroscience and epigenetics;
  • Reflections and formation of convictions – Philosophy: Ethics, Virtues, Non-violence, Human Values;
  • Contemplative practices: meta-attention, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation;
  • Destructive emotions – How to deal with anger, stress, depression, anxiety and apathy;
  • Motivation and engagement: Talents, Affections, Causes, Environment and Social Action;
  • Art workshops, musical performances, group dynamics and cooperative games;
  • Shared readings of wisdom stories, tales and myths;
  • Guided visits to artistic exhibitions, musical concerts and natural environments such as parks, nature reserves, etc.

3.1. Meditation

Among the meditation practices taught to the participants is the meditation on selfless love and compassion: shamatha and metabavana. During these meditations, there is the possibility of a noticeable increase in the synchronization of brain wave oscillations at frequencies called gamma, associated with connectivity between different areas of the brain.

In order to feel true compassion and benevolence towards each other, we must choose a real person as an object of meditation and increase our compassion and our benevolent love towards that person, before extending them to others. We work with one person at a time; otherwise, our compassion is diluted in a very generalized feeling and our meditation will lose concentration and strength.” as stated by the Dalai Lama (2015).

During the practice of the selfless love and compassion meditation known as Metabavana, we first direct our attention to ourselves in a self-compassionate way and then we think of a loved one to whom we direct our unconditional love and benevolence. Then we expand that feeling to other beings that we like and then to those that we have some difficulty.

4. Overview of Meetings – 2018/2019

In the first cycle of the “Leadership” program, a vocational test was applied, followed by a conversation about future professions and aspirations. Some were surprised by the alignment of the result with the choices they had previously, while others envisioned new possibilities for professions and / or talents to be developed.

At the beginning of the activities, we have a moment of contemplation and meditation, free or directed. Among the main applied practices are relaxation, mindfulness, shamata and metabavana.

Our students – 2018 / 2019:

During the meetings of the first cycle, 3 episodes of the documentary were presented: “A more powerful force – A century of non-violent conflicts” and the documentary “Blue eyes” by Jane Elliott, a contemporary American teacher from Martin Luther King that she performed with her students an exercise where they experienced situations of discrimination and racism.

After the exhibitions, dialogue circles were held where students reported their emotions, feelings and perceptions about the activities. Below are some comments on the documentary “Blue Eyes Project”: “I thought this documentary about racism was important to at least know how it is, because there is no way I can say that I know how it is, because I don’t know. And knowing about it, eliminates a good part of racism”. Through this comment, made by a white teenager, we can see how the documentary aroused empathy in the student, contemplating the objective of promoting peace and tolerance, proposed by the program. Another student said: “It is a life lesson, a person (referring to Jane) to have as a reference. When you have a subject and it is not spoken, people do not give importance, and continue doing it (propagating racism). It is a way of making people put themselves in the other’s place. Excluding people does not only hinder the moment, but the future as well. I don’t even have anything to say, the entire video is a lesson.” Through this student’s comment, we can see how meaningful the documentary was.

A black teenager student gave a statement about a situation in which she and her mother suffered social and racial discrimination: “I went on foot with my mother to see a course, (…) a white girl arrived by car, and the course people hugged and touched her hand, and for us nothing. I said I was part of the guild but she downgraded my mother’s work, as if I didn’t do anything important, I left there and cried, because that was very sad”.

Statements like this were very heartbreaking, but they were important in creating bonds, empathy and support among the members of the group, encouraging a safe environment to express themselves, being able to hear and be heard and, mainly, being accepted and cared by the group. It was also possible to notice the pessimism of some students in relation to social change, as in this comment made by a student: “Society knows how bad it is and it still does it (prejudice and racial discrimination), I think people will leave here and forget what they saw”. Through this comment there was also an opportunity to reflect on how we can apply non-violence strategies to promote change.

Unifesp October 2018:

During the meetings, we reflected on how the local culture can become an obstacle to freedom, an impossibility of choice (e.g.: dress codes, arranged marriages, structural violence, religious and racial discrimination, prohibition of women of attending schools) that results in injustice, lack of dialogue, respect or ethics in relationships.

About Jane Elliot’s stance, one of the students commented: “She was very kind to do the workshop and give people an opportunity to be better. If you put yourself in the shoes of people and feel what they feel, you will not do that anymore.” One of the students, who reported living in a repressive environment, had a special statement, talking about the benefits and how she feels about the program. “I keep counting the days to get these classes, because I never thought that I could talk and talk about these subjects, without having to get into conflict”.

Link do vídeo com o depoimento dos alunos sobre o documentário Blue Eyes de Jane Elliot:

Students – 2019:

5. Structured Program Evaluation

We applied questionnaires where students could report which topics and activities had the greatest impact on their choices and actions, also which non-violence strategies they would use in the community. We invited participants to evaluate the role of the facilitators, the content presented and the activities carried out. They were able to choose, among various topics, a bonus class on a subject that they were interested in learning about or deepen their knowledge. The responses were incredible and offered a rich material for our team to improve our actions and proposals. Below is a transcript of some of the responses obtained:

Question: What culture of peace strategy could you use to improve your life and the community?

“Non-violence and peaceful protests, as these types of events generally use violence and can also leave people dead, with these peaceful ideas life could get better.” (Vitor, 10 years old)

“One of the strategies that I found very interesting and effective is the boycott, because people can show their voice, without having to say anything”. (Luiza, 15 years old)

“I thought Gandhi’s idea of ​​not using violence to be very good, because people today only think about hitting, killing and that’s not how things are solved. For products that are still tested on animals, we can use the boycott and decrease the sales.” (Ana Carolina, 13 years old)

“Justified civil disobedience and peaceful marches / protests. I consider civil disobedience as something very broad, I would apply the piracy of books and films, because I think that knowledge should not be sold. I would participate in marches because I think it is something that unites and shows the strength of a society.” (Victor, 14 years old)

“Boycott: this way we could draw government attention, because if there is no demand for such a product, there is no reason to produce it and without production there is no profit”. (Ana Carolina, 15 years old)

“Dialogue and Negotiation, because dialogue is where you listen to other people, so we can solve problems that involve society. Negotiation, to elaborate what will be done to solve the problem proposed in the dialogue.” (Julia, 15 years old)

Question: Which of the documentaries and themes presented at our meetings had the greatest impact on your life and why?

“The most important thing for me was that of Mahatma Gandhi, when he used the strategy of justified civil disobedience, because thousands of people joined him and did not react to the violence of the authorities.” (Bianca, 14 years old)

“Blue Eyes, by Jane Elliot, because she makes everyone in the skin of the black, she made white people, with different colored eyes, mainly blue, and made them feel racism and bullying”. (Miguel, 12 years old)

“Martin Luther King’s documentary, because we saw that they suffered a lot, with difficulties they fought for their rights and everyone helped each other”. (Ana Julia, 12 years old)

“What impacted me the most was “Blue Eyes” because we still live in a racist society. The way Jane Elliot acted with the opposite racism, for me it was extraordinary because it made people really feel like black people.” (Camilla, 15 years old)

“For me, there were two, the lecture on Happiness by the philosopher Lucia Helena Galvão and the assignment about Gandhi. They all touched me a lot, in the way that I thought, that I thought was right. They showed me new ways to see the world, new ways to help the world”. (Luanna, 16 years old)

“Lucia Helena Galvão’s lectures, she made me think and reflect a lot about happiness, because I had never thought about this subject in such a deep way”. (Mariana, 16 years old)

“The film “Dead Poets Society”, as it showed how we should value literature and art. How to stimulate our creativity and thinking. The documentary on “Happiness”, because it made me have other perspectives of what it means to be truly happy.” (Isadora, 15 years old)

“The film “Dead Poets Society” was the most important for me, because this film addressed important and very present issues today, such as: suicide, the influence of teachers in our lives, the influence of parents, etc.” (Biancca, 15 years old)

“The documentary on World War II (A force more powerful), which shows how Denmark did not let Jews be taken away, but also hid in the homes of good-hearted people, they did not fight Hitler with weapons.” (Julia, 15 years old)

“The documentary “Night of the Crystals”, which shows German cowardice against the Jewish people. And the acts of civil disobedience in Denmark to defend the Jewish population in your country.” (Caio, 13 years old)

“The documentary that caught my attention was Gandhi’s, as I had never heard of him, I thought it was really cool to know him. I was delighted with the way he dealt with the pressures placed on him, this was a teaching that I try to take to everyone, and even to me. After that documentary my thoughts completely changed.” (Giane, 15 years old)

Question: If you could choose someone as a model of being human, someone who could serve as an inspiration for your life and your actions, who would you choose?

“Gandhi, because everything he did was incredible.” (Mariana, 16 years old)

“My father and grandfather. For me they are incredible, they have been my inspiration since I was little. Because they are dedicated, protective and incredible in many ways.” (Luanna, 16 years old)

“It may seem cliché, but I would choose my mother, because she is a woman that I admire and that always gave me great advices”. (Isadora, 15 years old)

“It would certainly be Malala, because being so young, she transformed the thinking and reality of the people where she lived”. (Ana Carolina, 16 years old)

“I believe that I would live like Jesus Christ, because I know a little about the Bible and he was very good, because he is my hero in my belief.” (João Gabriel, 15 years old)

“Nobody, because in my opinion nobody is perfect, and we are all always needing to improve in several aspects. And when you put a human being as an example you end up idolizing the person in your subconscious.” (Nicolly, 15 years old)

“To Lucia Helena Galvão, because she has concepts of philosophy and happiness that I had never stopped to reflect on”. (Caio, 13 years old)

“My grandmother, I think that until today I haven’t met someone so calm and just, she always used the conversation and sometimes meditated with me. Today she is no longer here, but she was a very strong and hardworking woman and when I reach my 60s I would like to be like her.” (Giane, 15 years old)

Question: We would like to hear your thoughts on the Leadership for the Future program. Feel free to say what you liked best, suggest changes and criticize.

“I found it very useful to hold all the meetings, as they taught me a lot about equality of all and as working together we have more strength. After going through these meetings, my way of seeing other people changed. I confess that I did some wrong things at school, like prejudiced jokes, but now I know how wrong it is.” (Caio, 14 years old)

“The project is wonderful, I felt kind of ignorant because I did not know half of the things spoken and without realizing it cooperated with the oppressive society”. (Patrick, 14 years old)

“I really liked the presentation format we had, I found the way we learned about non-violence very effective, it was a very enriching and enjoyable experience. The coolest things were the debates, which helped us to understand the point of view of others and to rethink some of our ideas.”. (Gabriel, 15 years old)

“I loved participating in this incredible program, mainly because we debate on very important topics that are sometimes considered taboo”. (Gabriela, 14 years old)

“There were very different feelings, the comments and documentaries made me reflect for at least three days, something that really touched me a lot and reminded me of personal events. Everything I felt cannot be put into words, it was really profound things that made me evolve. A great activity, I look forward to more.”. (Gabriela, 15 years old)

“I thought this idea of ​​showing and talking about controversial issues in society was excellent. This way makes us reflect on our ordinary actions, can change us and make us become better human beings, with pleasant conviviality and respect, providing greater contact on social media. This program is an opportunity that all public and private schools should join !!”. (Ana Carolina, 15 years old)

“I felt really good, all the conversations made me reflect on many things and changed my thoughts on many things. Some conversations made me reflect on who I am and what it really means to be happy. Moments of meditation make me reflect on my thoughts and take the right actions.”. (Luanna, 14 years old)

“Yes, I really liked it, I have no criticism, but I love the moments we talked and the teacher gives advice. But certain subjects are uncomfortable.” (Thauani, 13 years old)

“I really liked it because it was well developed and very well presented, showing documentaries and practices”. (Otavio, 14 years old)

“I saw the project as a way of self-knowledge, a way of talking about things that I didn’t talk about in my personal life. I am completely grateful, as I reflected much more on who I am and who I want to be.” (Henzel, 15 years old)

6. Documentaries, films and group experiences

Among the topics they were interested in knowing was the story of Malala Yousafzai. We watched the film “My name is Malala”, which tells the story of this young Pakistani girl who, at the age of 16, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Reflections on moral strength, the struggle for the right to study and freedom of thought were deeply shared. The identification with just and peaceful causes was immediate and brought out the best of everyone in the group.

Link com depoimento dos alunos:

The students also participated in an experiential activity called “Privilege Walk” with the facilitator Bruno Esteves, and were able to see how much their social condition is the result of personal privileges or achievements. After the “walk”, the conversations took place in a circle and the testimonies were exciting.

We also watched the film “The Wave” (Die Welle), which is based on real events and portrays the ideological manipulation that was initially carried out as part of an academic project, but which ended up revealing fascist feelings and caused ruptures and violence among students from school in Germany. As we were in a pre-electoral period in 2018 hate speeches and violence in all media were on edge, the film was a reality check and helped to dissolve some poorly reflected opinions that incited violence against LGBTS, indigenous people, blacks and minorities.

Art, music and philosophy were also means to bring reflections and provided a variety of cultural experiences. The students watched Alain de Botton’s documentary on Epicurus and Happiness, and reflections about consumerism, lack of self-esteem, isolation and ambitions were rich and brought to light the simplicity proposed by Epicurus, who believed that autonomy, freedom, reflections and friends are enough to be happy.

In order to awaken sensitivity and creativity for art, we held a mandala creation workshop, where, to the sound of classical music, they painted and were completely entertained in the activity – they reported leaving the meeting in a state of grace.

We visited with the participants the exhibition “Yby-Soroc” by the artist Pedro Lopes, composed of 20 canvases that portray the history of our city since before its foundation. It was a unique experience, they were able to talk to the artist and get to know the trajectory of his creative process and his research.

Link com vídeo de nossa visita na exposição:

We reflected on Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on the Water Message. We watched the documentary, which shows the realization of the experiences and how emotions, feelings and music influence the formation of water molecules. We talked about the implications of this knowledge, as most of our body and planet is made up of water.

Link com as reflexões sobre o documentário sobre a pesquisa do Dr. Massaru Emoto:

We had a sensorial / musical experience with the educator and musician Nathalie Lousan Vial, where students could feel how the vibration of sound alters our emotional and brain state and learn more about the importance of musical skills for learning mathematics, in addition to some neuroscience studies in this field.

Link com imagens da apresentação musical:

We reflected on Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on the Water Message. We watched the documentary, which shows the realization of the experiences and how emotions, feelings and music influence the formation of water molecules. We talked about the implications of this knowledge, as most of our body and planet is made up of water.

We had a sensorial / musical experience with the educator and musician Nathalie Lousan Vial, where students could feel how the vibration of sound alters our emotional and brain state and learn more about the importance of musical skills for learning mathematics, in addition to some neuroscience studies in this field.

It was beautiful to participate in the evolution of the groups and to create an environment of trust, unity, serenity and concentration that the meetings provided. The changes were noticed by everyone; teachers and parents reported positive changes in behaviors in general. Our students also obtained excellent academic results, which by the way is the main purpose of Educandário and Instituto André Luiz, where we carry out the Leadership program. This innovative solidarity institution, they provide free differentiated education and prepare children and young people who come from public schools and have good grades and behavior to apply to get scholarships at good private schools and university exams and also to apply for programs like Ismart, that sponsors the academic life of students who stand out for their grades, from high school to college.

7. Results and discussions

The program started in 2018 and we expect to continue from February to November 2020. The results collected so far refer to the period from June to December 2018 and February to November 2019. Since the beginning of the project, in 2018, at the headquarters of the Educandário, attend the program a total of 65 students, 35 of them got scholarships at good private schools in the city, 4 of them were accepted by the Ismart program.

The academic results obtained by the students were excellent and the opportunity to study at good schools with a better structure and qualified teachers will prepare them to advance, in order to get scholarships at public universities or private colleges. This opportunity will ensure better living conditions and achievements for these young people and their families.

To continue the support and their social, emotional and ethical development, the students who are studying now at the private schools and therefore are not attending the classes at Educandário, were invited to continue attending the Leadership for the Future program at our headquarters starting in February 2020.

Main Results

The results obtained so far in the program were shown to be aligned with the defined objectives. During the meetings, we observed that the participants showed a better integration with the group, reflected on the themes presented in a clear and profound way. There were several reports of personal stories about situations of bullying, intolerance, racial and social prejudice. Some young people reported emotional difficulties, such as processes of depression and suicidal thoughts, experienced by the students and / or family members themselves.

Participants remained united and maintained empathic support while listening to their colleagues’ reports. Many reported not having prior knowledge about strategies that could be used in times of disagreement, both in the family and in the school environment, and felt that after the meetings where they learned about non-violence and examples of peaceful conflict resolution, they were more confident and prepared to express themselves more freely, dealing more evenly with the emotions of anger, rejection and helplessness. Even the shyest ones, who initially did not like to express opinions, during the meetings surprised us and started to share their perceptions about the topics presented with the group.

Challenges for 2020

We intend to continue developing the “Leadership” program with 70 remaining students and new students. Approximately 20 young people between 12 and 17 years old, who left the program because they got scholarships will attend the program at the collective headquarters. We will reach approximately 90 participants.

In February we will launch a new challenge, the project Ecocitizenship. The project will be inserted in the educational framework of the “Leadership for the Future” program. The purpose of this project is to make individuals aware of the damage to the environment caused by the disposal of electronic equipment in nature, through the possibility of recycling and / or repairing this equipment. Computer courses and workshops, curriculum design and vocational guidance, gardening, exchange fair and planting seedlings will be offered free of charge. Solidarity campaigns will also be promoted to collect donations to the Solidarity Bazaar, which helps to raise funds for the socio-educational projects of Educandário and Instituto André Luiz and Casa Acolhedora Irmã Dulce, partners of the Coletivo Cultural Fora da Caixa.

The Ecocitizenship project is aligned with the following United Nations sustainability objectives:

  • Reduce poverty: Donate what you don’t need;
  • Quality Education: Free courses;
  • Climate Action – Educate people about sustainable livelihoods;
  • Life on the planet – Plant trees and teach about the benefits of this action;
  • Partnerships – seek partnerships between government, civil society and companies to multiply actions and achieve objectives.

Proposed actions:

  • Environmental Education – Raising awareness of problems related to the environment such as deforestation, water, air and land pollution; reduction and separation of waste through the engagement of students, teachers and families to create responsible consumption habits, collection of computers, cell phones and tablets, through virtual campaigns and creation of specific collection points; reverse logistic, creation of a virtual Eco-money to be used to purchase products at our charity events, bazaars and solidarity campaigns.
  • Guided visit at the site of Sinctronics with students participating in the Leadership for the Future program carried out by our team.
  • Gardening Workshop – How to grow herbs for teas and spices at home. Therapeutic properties, use and care.
  • Composting Workshop – How to compost using organic waste and recycled materials at home to make compost.
  • Fair for exchange and planting of seedlings – Mobilize the community to create green spaces at home, plant trees to reduce the effects of climate change and improve the quality of life in the city.
  • Free Computer Course – Computer course for young people and adults, introduction to Windows (Word, Office, Excel), video editing.
  • Curriculum and Vocational Guidance Workshop – Application of vocational test and guidance lecture on professions; making resumes with guidance from a Human Resources Analyst.
  • Solidarity – Computers and equipment that are in perfect working order will be donated to the Solidarity Bazaar, held monthly to raise funds for maintenance of the socio-educational projects of Educandário and Instituto André Luiz and Casa Acolhedora Irmã Dulce.
  • Reverse Logistics – Equipment that is not working or in a condition to be repaired will be sent to Sinctronics, a company specialized in reverse logistics, fulfilling the steps of collection and recycling. The recyclable material collected will be transformed into virtual Eco-money credits.

8. Conclusions

The youngsters who participated in the “Leadership for the Future” program reported a great benefit in participating in the meetings, demonstrating that the strategies introduced were effective in the integration, communication, respect and unity of the group. There was an increase in empathy, reduction of bullying, reduction of problems related to anxiety, strengthening of bonds of friendship and respect between all. This indicates that the structure of the programs created a favorable environment to achieve the defined objectives. Through the practices of dialogue, empathic listening and experiences, the participants learned to accept divergent opinions, disagree with respect and carry out more efficient, loving and inclusive communication. As a group they reflected on their choices, expressed their opinions and feelings, which enabled the recognition and transformation of emotions and attitudes. They found, in the strategies learned, alternatives to higher actions. There was also a greater engagement of individuals in the community in social causes in a non-violent and proactive way.

The integration and exchange of experiences between facilitators, students, teachers and the community go beyond the topics presented and are essential for character formation and the emotional, social and ethical development of individuals.

9. Acknowledgments

We thank the members of our team at Coletivo Cultural Fora da Caixa, facilitators and guest professors. Our special thanks to Ana Paula Cardoso and Pedro C. Navarro, co-founders of Educandário and Instituto André Luiz, who welcomed us and trusted us in our projects.

10. Short Bio

Since I started my studies in mythology and philosophy in 1993, I have always been interested in teachings and contemplative practices, which seek to reflect on happiness and how to find ways to live in a harmonious and healthy way. I joined the group of Multipliers in Ethics at the Palas Athena Association (S. P.), an institution where, between 1997 and 2004, I studied and worked as a mythology teacher inspired by the works of Joseph Campbell. I completed my degree in Philosophy (UNISO) in 2006. Among my studies and works, there are some translations into Portuguese of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s lectures to the ECO 92 Brazilian Liberation Committee, the documentary “Compassion in Exile” and part of His Holiness’s teachings when he was in Curitiba, in 1999. I participated in the translation of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography: “My life and my experiences with the Truth”, published by Palas Athena with the support of the Consulate of India in Brazil.

These works had an immense influence on my life and have guided my values ​​as a human being and my activities as an educator. Over the past decades, I have participated in many seminars and courses about philosophy, mythology, ethics and meditation with teachers from the Hindu, Christian, Buddhists traditions. I have studied with special philosophers and teachers such as Edgar Morin, Jean Marie Muller and his Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Precisely because I found many important common points in the life trajectory of people who spread philosophies and human values ​​relevant to the community, in 2014 I decided to dedicate my dissertation and got a master’s degree in Communication and Culture (UNISO), focusing on the journey of the spiritual hero. My work was supported and founded by the work of the American mythologist Joseph Campbell. I researched the life of the mystical and spiritual leader João de Camargo, a former slave who lived in Sorocaba, at the beginning of the 19th century. He attracted multitudes of people and performed countless healings, he is considered a Saint for his followers. He built a chapel that still attracts hundreds of pilgrims to this day every year.

In 2015 I founded the Coletivo Cultural Fora da Caixa and since then me and my team have been actively working on creating a space for learning and dialogue with the motivation to spread human values ​​such as altruism, compassion, empathy and generosity. At our headquarters we carry out a regular schedule of courses and tributes to pacifists like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, philosophers and wisdom teachers. We hold meditation meetings, interreligious dialogue, non-violence strategies workshops and the programs Education for Peace and Leadership for the future.

The Leadership for the Future program was presented and awarded at the Adolescence Congress at UNIFESP in October 2018. In June 2018, we learned about SEE Learning framework, through His Holiness Dalai Lama at a meeting held at his official residence in Dharamsala with scientists and educators, organized by the Mind and Life Institute, which was broadcasted over the internet. We felt that there was an affinity between the work we were developing and the Social, Emotional and Ethical Education curriculum that Emory University, with the support of His Holiness, were preparing. We got in touch with Emory University, sent an article presenting the “Leadership” program that we were developing at Educandário and we were invited by Emory University to participate in the worldwide launch event and the Education Projects Fair, which took place in India between the April 4th and 6th, in the city of New Delhi.

In November 2019 we were invited by the Conectando Saberes Sorocaba Nucleus, supported by the Lemann Foundation and in partnership with the Sorocaba Municipal Secretariat, to receive an award for our “Leadership for the future” project, carried out by the Coletivo Cultural Fora da Caixa in partnership with Educandário and Instituto André Luiz. Our project was selected and recognized as one of the top ten in the city of Sorocaba. The award event was held during the Seminar Connecting Good Practices, held in the morning of November 22th in the city of Sorocaba, at the Education Reference Center.

Our team is made of five individuals who work in different professional areas and have a common goal: to work on the development of cultural, educational and social actions. We also have a network of invited teachers who collaborate in our events and enrich our learning.

Regina Proença is the founder and coordinator of the collective. She works as a teacher, translator and researcher. Graduated in Philosophy, Master in Communication and Culture. Practitioner of meditation since 2003. For over 25 years she has been actively working on the implementation of projects of Peace Culture, Philosophy and Contemplative Practices. She is currently working on the research project about the impact of non-violence strategies, contemplative practices and social, emotional and ethical education with children, youth and adults. For more information:

Nathália Grespan is a biologist, artisan and editor of our digital magazine Openzine. She works as a teacher in the Free English and Leadership for the Future programs.

Ricardo Albuquerque has a degree in Advertising and Marketing, a web developer, media producer and producer of the digital magazine Openzine. He works as a collaborator in the Leadership for the Future and Education for Peace projects.

Mirela Proença has a degree in Human Resources, participates as a collaborator in events and in the Leadership for the Future program.

Nathalie Lousan Vial has a degree in biological sciences from PUC-SP. Specialization in biology teaching at USP. Master in education and health from PUC – SP. Currently a PhD student at Unifesp, his project focuses on Active Learning Methodologies, more specifically on Team Based Learning – ABE (Team Based Learning). In his thesis, he evaluated the effectiveness of using ABE in basic education and its contributions to the collaborative and meaningful learning of students and teacher self-efficacy.

8. Bibliographic References

DESMOND, T.; DAVIDSON, R. J. Self – Compassion in Psychotherapy – Mindfulness – Based Practices for Healing and Transformation. 1. ed. [s.l.] W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

FREDRICKSON, B. L .; JOINER, T. Reflections on Positive Emotions and Upward Spirals. Perspectives on Psychological Science, v. 13, n. 2, p. 194–199, 2018.

HANSON, R .; MENDIUS, R .; ALBERT, B. Buddha’s brain: Practical neuroscience of happiness. [s.l.] Editora Alaúde, 2012.

KABAT-ZINN, J. Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, v. 10, n. 2, p. 144–156, 2003.

MILLER, A. H .; RAISON, C. L. Are Anti-inflammatory Therapies Viable Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders: Where the Rubber Meets the Road. JAMA psychiatry, vol. 72, n. 6, p. 527–528, Jun. 2015.

PIRES, J. G. et al. Instruments to assess the mindfulness construct: a review. Psychological Assessment, v. 14, p. 329–338, 2015.

RICARD, M .; POLEGATO, I. The revolution of altruism. [s.l: s.n.].

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