Interview with living book of peace, the principal of Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru
IPYG first met Ms. Lathakanan Haridass, the principal of Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru, when we were preparing for Karnival Aman Johor in March 2017. On the day of the event, Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru's students performed a flash mob to promote harmony among diverse races. Then, on March 28, 2017, IPYG was invited to talk about peace and host a Peace-Making Game at Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru. Through the talk and the game, students had the opportunity to understand how peace is possible when all the sectors of society work together as one.
On May 19, 2017, IPYG and Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru again cooperated in organizing Youth Leaders Driving the Future Force, an interactive leadership seminar in commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace. IPYG and Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru have been inspiration for each other in the work of peace. Such cooperation to build peace in Malaysia would have been difficult without the support of Ms. Lathakanan Haridass.
Below is an interview with Ms. Lathakanan Haridass.
Q. What made you interested and motivated you to work for youth/student peace activities? And what is your vision for the future?
It is my intrinsic belief that peace should be felt and realized. My motivation on peace arose few years ago, during my postgraduate studies. We were discussing about multicultural education in different countries and participants were university students/ scholars internationally. All of us share beautiful cultural background. This effort created understanding among us, broadened our knowledge, and reduced prejudice and skepticism among us. The understanding helped us to work along our studies. So, it derives the interest from me to do research among students on understanding multicultural values. When I first told this idea to most of my lecturers it was rejected, most of them afraid that it might lead to political view or racism. However, my husband Kanan Krishnan stood with me and encouraged to move forward and have faith. My objective is simple: just “to understand the problem that stops people from living peacefully in Malaysia and to resolve it”.
My first research received a very average mark, pulling down my pointers as most of the professors are looking for tangible or market value driven products that is worthy to be researched and they felt this was an argumentative and subjective matter. However, my determination had led me; Dr Zainudin Hassan was willing to be my supervisor. Hence, I proceeded my research with his guidance. I published my first write up on “Konvensyen Jiwa Pendidik 2014” and my second paper was published at Term Of Reference (Tor) 3rd Joint International Seminar Religious Education In A Diverse Society: Promoting Civil Religion & Deliberative.
From my research studies I came to understand that students need to have knowledge on different culture and creation of interaction among different culture in a positive and creative way that will lead towards a better understanding; thus society will have unity and peace. Therefore, throughout my lectures and college management I always promote such activities to reduce prejudice among our youth and to cultivate peace.
Vision for future is simple: A diversified society living in love and peace!
Q. What is the most memorable peace activity that you have done with your college students? How did it affect the society or the students?
The memorable peace activity was when we took an initiative to create a multicultural flash mob for peace. The effect was certainly positive and it was a huge success. My girls and boys have started to mingle regardless of race and ethnicity. Through singing and dancing, more interaction among them was created. They learned the dance of different culture, understood the culture, performed the dancing together, and enjoyed it! It was beautiful to watch an Indian dancing with a Malay song, a Malay dancing with a Korean song, and a Chinese dancing with an Indian song gracefully. My kids (I prefer to call my students/youths this way) are together now, they are more tolerable among each other and they have learned to respect and live together in peace. As before this they had limited interaction and been carried away by stereotypes about how certain race kids will be. Certainly flash mob had flushed out the negativity.
What kind of activities makes students aware of peace?
I strongly feel activities that invoke student’s inner feelings will leave a great impact towards their understanding and experience. As such, dancing and singing are the best ways that to inculcate kids happiness and joyfulness. Thus, indirectly helping to cultivate love and peace among the kids for a long term basis.
Q. What made Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru keep cooperating with the IPYG?
The openness, understanding and shared vision of creating peace had been keeping us to be with IPYG. We felt students should have cultural intelligence or cultural quotient to enable them to attain the capability to work across the culture especially in a globally connected society in the 21st century, thus, helping my kids indirectly to become holistically developed individual in a rapidly progressing competitive society.
Q-1. What kind of worries, thoughts, and interests do Malaysian youth have?
Worries and Thoughts
- Prejudice among Malaysian youth
- Stereotyping among youth
- Increasing of social tension among youth
- Less social interaction
- Less cultural literacy
- Misinterpretation of Culture
- Love dance and singing
Q-2. To resolve such worries, what do you think youth should do?
i) Youth should be more involved in cultural intelligence workshop – however, this is quite less in Malaysia. In the case of existing activities, very less participation are received due to unawareness of the activities and workshop.
ii) Get involved in cultural activities of other ethnicity to understand and learn – on going at the moment by political leaders engagement in cultural activities. Such as, during Muslim fasting month there is always engagement of Non-Muslim to join them for break fasting. This also happens in schools, workplace and NGO’s.
iii) Engage more on NGO’s activities to broaden knowledge and in helping to create a society that attain cultural literacy to live peacefully.
Q-3. Accordingly, what do you think the IPYG should do in Malaysia?
i) Create more peace conference, idea sharings and workshops
ii) Spread the peace creatively through singing and dancing for example flash mob – everyone especially youth enjoy this. It helps create a positive impact in a long term basis
iii) Lead importance of cultural intelligence – as some youth and parents feel it is a waste of time; with awareness, creation of cultural understanding could be inculcated and peacefulness can be achieved.
Q. Messages to the youth around the world
Every individual is beautiful on their unique way, the culture is beautiful, the religion is beautiful, the teachings and values are beautiful too. When we learn to look only to the beauty of the individual and start loving, peace is attained!
We are very glad to meet a person who sincerely cares about peace and for the youth. We further look forward to cooperating with Cosmopoint College Johor Bahru in building the peaceful future for Malaysia. Our next step together will be Global Peace Leadership Program, a peace initiative to spread the culture of peace in Malaysia.