Filling in for Missing Pieces: Peacebuilding Through Education

Fountain Editor-in-Chief Hakan Yeşilova (Photo: Today's Zaman, Kürşat Bayhan)
Fountain Editor-in-Chief Hakan Yeşilova (Photo: Today's Zaman, Kürşat Bayhan)


Date posted: October 10, 2012

The Fountain Magazine and the Peace Islands Institute (PII) recently organized an international conference titled “Peacebuilding Through Education: Challenges, Opportunities, Cases”. The conference featured prominent experts and policy maker from across the world. Hakan Yeşilova, the editor-in-chief of  Fountain Magazine, made the welcoming speech. Below is his speech.

Honorary Ministers, academics, guests:

Good morning and welcome,

A special welcome to our guests from far away countries who have arranged their travel plans just to be able to join us today. Among these countries are Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Tanzania, South Africa, Belarus, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, and the UK are the ones that I know – thank you for your participation.

A few issues back this year, we featured in The Fountain magazine an article titled “The Missing Piece,” authored by a dear friend.

The Missing Piece was a pawn that had gone missing on a stunning 12th century chess set exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The author comments on this missing piece as follows:

“Looking at this chessboard, one cannot help but reflect on the still-charged game of misunderstandings which pits East and West on opposing sides. … Perhaps this missing foot soldier can presage the beginning of a new game, one where we are all on the same side of the chessboard; a game without confronting pieces and with reconciliation as the victor.”

One little piece missing is a big enough deficiency to start a game.

Is this life a game? And are we in it to beat an opponent? There are different views as to how we should define our worldly life; but there is a growing consensus that the major piece missing today is a comprehensive education – an education that deals with the human as a whole. It is not just a pawn we are trying to make up for – if life is a chess game, education is the king, and when the king is gone the game is over before it can ever start.

Education is not an issue within school hours only, and it does not end when one graduates from the school: we have learned from late Steve Jobs that a college degree is not sometimes an indispensable need.

And thanks to people like him, out of a hundred thousand words each human is exposed to every day, only less than one percent comes from schools.

Deeply inspired from Fethullah Gülen, a man who has devoted his entire life to education, dialogue, and tolerance, we at The Fountain and Peace Islands Institute believe education is a lifelong ladder to climb until our last day. Among the entire creation, the humans are born with greatest of all potentials, yet a great majority of which are dormant: no ready-to-use prior knowledge and ability for survival, and with the greatest dependence on others. All of those seeds planted in our make-up for so many of the fantastic qualities we possess wait impatiently to manifest themselves, and this is only possible with a thorough education. … Education that helps us come to an agreement with this complicated phenomenon we call life…. Life that we strive so hard to bring some sense out of it: education for a meaningful life.

John Nash’s Game Theory idealizes a win-win result. He says a lose-lose situation is also a possibility, if everybody focuses more on his opponent losing than on himself winning. In this game of life, we at The Fountain believe we all are on the same side; if we are to find an opponent or a challenge, we don’t need to go too far, or search for it in the horizons. We have a very powerful one right here in our soul, and through a thorough education only can it become a rocket ramp for us to rise and our fragility becomes our greatest strength.

This conference is one beautiful ring we are adding today to our chain of events and conferences we have been organizing across the globe for the last several years, from Australia to Nigeria, the Philippines to Finland, Singapore to South Africa, dedicated to education, culture of coexistence, and peace.

As I conclude, I would like thank co-sponsors the Baruch College, Yale University, New York Institute of Technology, Quinnipiac University, and Alliance for Shared Values, and especially the entire staff of Peace Islands Institute and The Fountain US office for the precious efforts they reserved to this conference. I also would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Kaynak Holding Chairman Mr. Naci Tosun and Professor Irfan Yilmaz for their continuous support to The Fountain and to this event. It means a lot to me.

Thank you.


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