Trainings, Workshops and Seminars

Nonviolent Communication (NVC- http://www.cnvc.og)

NVC Practice Group at PIASS

In our meeting in August, we tried to develop our vocabulary of feelings—especially in Kinyarwanda. In September, the focus topic was: “What do we do when someone does not want to open his/her heart?” We looked at various situations where this happens, and we found that, sometimes, it may not be the right situation for someone to share what is alive in her/ him, because s/he might be scared, frustrated, angry or have other strong feelings that block compassion and even the ability to receive empathy. We learned that it is not our goal to fix people. Rather, when empathizing with someone, we listen to their feelings and needs while providing necessary space. When they feel really heard, they may open up. This may take some time and require “natural” language, that is, language that does not convey to the person that s/he is being diagnosed or therapized

In June, the Nonviolent Communication practice group at PIASS worked on the question of how to  deal with dishonesty. With practical examples from every-day life, we found out that telling lies or half-truths is caused by our needs—the basis of our motivation for anything we do in our lives. This is not to justify lying. Rather, we realized that there is a human need behind every human behavior, even if it is something we consider immoral. If we enter into a fight or break our relationship with someone who lied to us, our relationship with this person will worsen or even break. The other option is to try to understand why s/he felt the need  to lie so that we can restore the relationship with the person: after listening to the person’s feelings and needs, we can then express our own confusion or sadness about what happened (the ‘lie’) and our desire for honesty.

For the session in July, one of the regular participants had asked to speak about personality types as they are categorized by psychologists. Having two trained psychological professionals in the group, we quickly realized that these labels may be helpful for mental health workers who need to perform a diagnoses before they offer treatment to patients. However, these labels can also create obstacles to human connection. For example, if we label someone in a specific way, our understanding of a person’s situation would be limited by the characteristics that are ascribed by the label. Coincidentally, the weekly reflection by CNVC certified trainer Mary Mackenzie offered helpful advice on this issue with an excerpt from her book Peaceful Living: Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion :

We don’t need to fix other people! When empathizing with someone, we listen for their feelings and needs and don’t try to fix their problem for them. The very process of giving someone space to talk about their issue without our judgment, to be truly understood by us, and to be deeply heard is very healing, enough so that most people will organically find their own creative ways to resolve their issues. Rely on this process and you will lose all desire to fix people’s problems. Instead, you will learn to trust their ability to resolve their issues. All it takes is your presence and your desire to hear their feelings and needs. Amazing! (INSERT PAGE NUMBER WHERE THE QUOTE IS FOUND).

Please share this reflection with your friends and family. They may sign up to receive their own weekly reflections at the following Stay In Touch page (  Copyright ©2016 NVC Academy, LLC, All rights reserved

Introduction to NVC-Mediation at A Peace of Live (APoL) Youth Peace Camp in Kigali on August 1, 2019

One of the students in our Department of Peace and Conflict Studies BA Program is active in the local youth organization “A Peace of Life”, which has held annual regional youth peace camps for the past ten years. This year, they invited a team from PIASS to introduce the role that communication can play in mediation. Using a sketch and several practical exercises and inputs, the team introduced nonviolent communication. In particular, the team explained how nonviolent communication can be used for effective mediation between parties in conflict. After the session, the participants from different countries and age groups expressed their appreciation for having learned an approach to conflict that can help prevent violence and restore good relationships.


Second part of NVC-introduction with volunteers of Never Again Rwanda August 24, 2019

One of the students in our Department of Peace and Conflict Studies BA Program is working as a volunteer in our partner organization “Never Again Rwanda (NAR)” ( He took up the desire of different of his fellow volunteers to have an introduction to Nonviolent Communication (NVC). In a team with two CRASPD staff, we held a one day introductory on NVC in March with those volunteers, and in August, we continued with a second day where we discussed the key distinctions between observation and interpretation, feeling and thought, need and strategy and request and demand. We also worked on the option of connecting with someone who gives us a tough/violent message by empathically listening to him/her.

Trauma First Aid Refresher Training Conducted with
Mental Health Advisors trained in 2017 and 2018

In 2017 and 2018, 28 students from different faculties of PIASS have been trained as Trauma First Aiders/ Mental Health Advisors by CRASPD in collaboration with PIASS Peace Club to support people in emotional crisis after violent incidents and in commemoration events. We worked with local trauma counseling trainers and clinical psychologists who introduced basic concepts of trauma and healing as well as different methods of psychosocial support. In practice sessions, participants learnt to apply different techniques and exercises to support persons in emotional turmoil, under their supervision.

CRASPD, with support of the Japan Baptist Convention, organized a Trauma First Aid Refresher Training end of April 2019, for those trained Mental Health Advisors to renew and deepen what they learnt in their prior training. By strengthening their skills and confidence to help themselves and other people in situations of emotional crisis, we would like to contribute to a constructive way to deal with consequences of violence-induced traumatization in communities.

Mental Health Advisors who had been trained in Trauma First Aid in 2017 and 2018 joined the refresher training and,  in teams under supervision of our trainer and clinic psychologist Therese Uwitonze from MHDF (Mental Health Dignity Foundation) served as Mental Health Advisors during the PIASS Commemoration, in the commemoration with Umucyo Nyanza and in other events during the 2019 commemoration period,

Strategic Planning Workshop of CRASPD for the Cooperation of PIASS and GIZ CPS

The workshop had an objective of agreeing on the continuation of the cooperation of the Civil Peace Service (CPS) of GIZ (German Development Cooperation) with PIASS through the Center for Research and Action towards Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASPD). The workshop took place at Centre d’Accueil Ste Scholastique at Sovu in Huye District, for 2 days on March 25 – 26, 2019.


The Deputy Vice Chancellor of PIASS, members of the Faculty and a volunteer serving at CRASPD under the program of Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) of the US Lutheran Church were in attendance, as well as the Coordinator of the GIZ Civil Peace Service Program Rwanda – Burundi – Eastern DRC.  The workshop was facilitated by Esther Tidjani, International Peace Advisor who is the assigned expert for organizational development in the regional program of GIZ Civil Peace Service.

In the workshop, the participants reviewed the cooperation between PIASS and GIZ CPS, its history, achievements, challenges and lessons learnt. They then identified the priorities of CRASPD in 2019 around three aspects: networking, joint research and community outreach.

workGr_pic_1Then, they looked at the outcomes of the regional program of GIZ CPS and identified possibilities of future cooperation. By the end of the workshop, three objectives were formulated for the cooperation of PIASS/ CRASPD with GIZ CPS in the period between 2019 and 2022 as follow:

1) Research-informed knowledge useful for peace and development policy makers and practitioners is generated and shared, 2) Peace-building actors in the region have increased sustainable initiatives and collaboration (capacity development and networking as means on how to achieve it), and 3) Peace-building practitioners and communities have access to a training and resource center in the region.

Film Screening SWEET DREAMS on International Women’s Dayimg_2099.jpg

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, CRASPD, in cooperation with the PIASS Peace Club, showed the film “SWEET DREAMS” telling the amazing story of women who mustered courage and creativity to combine their journey of reconciliation with innovative entrepreneurship. A great audience split into groups using creative methods to show the main ideas of the film by drawings and drama, as well as narration. Funds were collected to support the continuation of the work of the women’s cooperative. WomensDayFilmScreening

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