Port of Call
Education for Life and Democracy: The Danish Folk School Movement, Jul 10, 2018
The Peace Boat tour group on the grounds of Krogerup Hjskole.
Throughout the 98th voyage of Peace Boat, a consistent theme in discussions on peace building has been the idea that the value of peace must be instilled in children from an early age. On 28 June, when the Ocean Dream docked in Copenhagen, a group of Peace Boat participants disembarked for a day of learning more about another educational endeavour aimed at bettering the future right where it starts: the Danish folk school movement.

Peace Boat participants do a mirroring exercise inside Krogerup Hjskole.
The folk school movement began in Denmark in the 1800s, and though the concept has evolved in the years since, it has remained rooted in the need for education based on humanity and community. Folk schools operate independently of the state, and don't have fixed curricula. Instead, the courses and teaching methods are chosen by each individual school and the teachers in it, based on the needs of their students and community. Rather than aiming to prepare the students for commercial or occupational work, the schools seek to foster their individuality, critical thinking, creativity, and awareness of the world around them and their power to shape it into something better. The ideal is to create a "school of life" based on learning through "the living world".

Guest educator Garbo Diallo shows the tour group the interior of Krogerup Hjskole.
The Peace Boat tour was conducted by Garba Diallo, an educator at Krogerup Hjskole, a folk school in Copenhagen, and the founder of the NGO "Crossing Borders". Born and raised in Mauritania, Diallo grew up in an environment where few people had access to education, and when he did start receiving his first formal education as a teenager, it was ineffective and cruel to the students. The students were punished for speaking their native language, and violence was used to keep them in line. Having such an unkind introduction to education gave Diallo an appreciation for the need for it to be effective, and a much keener sense of when it's working well. After traveling throughout Europe in his youth, Diallo eventually began working in Denmark in 1992. Seven years later he founded "Crossing Borders", which brings together Israeli and Palestinian youth in educational peace building workshops.

A Peace Boat participant introduces herself with a gesture at Garba Diallo's talk.
During their tour, the Peace Boat participants not only got to learn more about the folk school system and tour Krogerup Hjskole's facilities, but also had a taste of the students' lifestyle. At the start of Diallo's introductory talk about the movement and its history, the tour participants introduced themselves by standing and making a unique gesture with their bodies, and explaining their individual reasons for having interest in this topic. In breaks between talks, the participants did creative exercises, such as pretending to be each other's mirrors, and stretching and breathing while imagining themselves in different settings.

The former Krogerup Hjskole students (from left to right: Lorena Torres, Konomi Mizumoto, Helena Kller) with Garba Diallo.
The tour also featured talks by three former Krogerup Hjskole students, Lorena Torres, Helena Kller, and Konomi Mizumoto, who spoke about how their folk school educations impacted their lives and the paths they pursued thereafter. They all lauded the school for changing the way they viewed the world, as not merely a static background, but a place they had the power and right to shape themselves. Torres and Mizumoto both became active themselves in Crossing Borders, and Kller went on to do work advocating against the abuse of garment factory workers in South East Asia. At the end of the tour, the group presented Diallo and the former folk school students with small gifts from Peace Boat. Llater that day, Diallo himself boarded the Ocean Dream to join Peace Boat as a guest educator, where he will give more talks on the power of education in fostering peace.