Siobhan, Ambassador of Peace

30 Jan 2024 | Life, Stories, Youth

Siobhan Heijn is one of the girls who arrived in Loppiano to attend the Gen School. She is Dutch and a frontline teacher in spreading peace through the Living Peace International project.

“Since I discovered the possibility of attending the Gen School in Loppiano, the desire to participate grew more and more. So, when I finished my studies as an educator, it seemed like the right opportunity to come here and share this experience with other Gen from around the world!” confides Siobhan Heijn. She is twenty-two years old, with incredibly blue eyes in a youthful face. She hails from the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. She is a Gen, a young member of the Focolare Movement, and also a teacher. “Now, with my degree, in the Netherlands, I can teach children from 4 to 12 years old,” she explains with the satisfaction of someone who loves her work very much.

Siobhan also has a passion: a commitment to peace. It all began when she discovered the Living Peace International project, which originated in Egypt from the idea of a teacher, Carlos Palma, and has now spread worldwide. “It’s a peace education journey based on the introduction of the so-called ‘Dice of Peace‘, whose faces do not have numbers but phrases that help build relationships of peace among everyone,” she explains. The dice is inspired by the points from “The Art of Loving,” which Chiara Lubich had proposed, also using a dice, to the children of the Focolare Movement. On its faces are resolutions to live together, such as: “we love each other,” “I love first,” “I love everyone,” “we forgive each other,” etc. “With the Living Peace project, children learn to live together in harmony, building peace among themselves. Everyone can be involved,” Siobhan elaborates. “I love to teach, and for me, teaching and educating for peace are two things that go hand in hand. That’s why I decided to commit more and study the educational method of the project.”

The desire for commitment formalized itself last October when Carlos Palma, the “father” of the Living Peace project, passing through the Loppiano citadel, appointed her a “young ambassador of peace” during an official ceremony. “For me, becoming an ambassador means committing myself to spread, more and more, a culture of peace among my students through the dice method. And since it’s not a very well-known project, I can also introduce it to my colleagues at school,” explains Siobhan. And then she adds, “For other ambassadors, it will mean something else: spreading peace starting from personal relationships, for example, or promoting actions for peace. But the beauty is that we are united, in contact with each other through a communication platform. This way, we can exchange ideas, share experiences, and emulate each other’s good practices.”

Loppiano is often referred to as a laboratory of fraternity. A place where one “trains” to live mutual love among different people, even when it’s not easy. Who knows how an ambassador of peace will experience this. “In my house here at the Gen School,” Siobhan recounts, “we are 8 girls from 8 different nationalities. I am Dutch, then there is a Chinese, an Indian, an Argentine, a Malagasy, a German, a Brazilian, and a Colombian. It’s not like living with peers from your own country. We have different habits, different food, some are more sensitive to the cold, others to the heat. Sometimes it’s a challenge to live together, other times it’s beautiful to learn, to know more about each other’s customs and traditions. But we find the way together, even when there is a problem. I felt heard firstand foremost by everyone. Then, we tried to find the solution together.”

Share This