She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Peace is dignity, well-being, and beauty. These are concepts that must not be converted into poison”.
Mireia Uranga Arakistain – Spain
Mireia Uranga, born in Spain in 1966, is a peace educator who believes in dialogue and conflict mediation. She is an adviser at Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Center, an independent center that applies new strategies for the development of a culture of peace. Since 2003, Mireia has also been co-director of the Indargi Center (Strength and Light) and collaborates in international projects for the development of education for peace. She is part of the European Education as a member of the Peace Education group.
Mireia Uranga was born in Eibar in 1966. Her parents lived originally in a rural environment until industrial development pushed them to Eibar, where her father became employed in a cooperative and her mother worked as a seamstress. Mireia was educated in an ikastola (a kind of school based on the defense of Basque language and culture). Indeed, she was one of the first generation of pupils educated in Basque up to the university level. Later she moved to Bilbao where she studied English Philology at Deusto university.
After finishing her degree in 1989, she had her first daughter, and started teaching secondary education. In the same year she joined the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Center and began to take part in the Transformation of Conflicts and Peace Culture seminars.
There she took Peace Studies as a research and action field, and met Juan Gutiérrez, who became her teacher. She began to learn practical approaches in education which she practiced at the school where she was employed. Through a collaborative agreement between the Council of Education and Gernika Gogoratuz Center, she left her job to dedicate herself to peace education both in the Basque Region and in Spain, as well as worldwide. Mireia is extremely positive in her approaches. Her vital philosophy aims for dialogue and respect for human beings.
“With regard to the Basque country, I feel that I live in a very dynamic environment, with enormous advances in terms of welfare and innovation but where terrible things also happen,” Mireia says. About strategies, Mireia tries to adapt herself to the specific needs of the persons or the groups with which she works.
“I use a very wide tool box combining different forms and contexts,” she says. “I try to generate confidence and a sense of security with the persons I work with. In that way, they can perceive that my commitment with them is genuine and allows everyone to give his or her best without fear. This is very important in the processes of mediation of conflicts and in all work to transform a given situation.”
Every morning, Mireia does yoga meditation exercises. She lives in the countryside, tied to the land, to history and justice. She is an extremely sensitive woman with a practical personality and a believer in dialogue. Mireia describes her routine as unpredictable. “Sometimes I have meetings with institutions, give lectures and courses at schools, universities and institutions under request. At home, I undertake the direction of a European course of peace education and human rights, coordinate in Spain another project of Dialogue between Generations in Europe.” Mireia speaks positively about the future of peace: “As in many countries where internal cohesion and social well being has been attained, I can imagine that this is also possible on the whole planet. I imagine a world where people can satisfy their basic needs, enjoy good health and are rich in their social and natural environment.” Mireia says that since she was a little girl, she has been moved by a deep feeling of unity of humanity without discrimination, a most beautiful vision of immense value in the whole world. She began her work in peace education by applying an informal method in transforming conflicts and providing mediation in the diverse institutes where she was employed, focussing on teaching and providing advice and direction for research.
Since 2003, Mireia has also been co-director of Indargi Center (Strength and Light) and collaborates in diverse international projects for the development of Education for Peace. She has taken part in an international project on Peace Education and Conflict Management in Vienna and has also been involved in the two-year project on Intercultural Learning in Europe, sponsored by the Council of Europe, and she is part of the European Education as Peace Education group. She has run international training programs on Conflict Management and Reconciliation and is the coordinator in Spain of the Network on Intergenerational Learning (NIGEL).
As to strategies, Mireia tries to adapt herself to the specific needs of the persons or the groups with whom she works. “I try to generate confidence and a sense of security for the people with whom I work and convince them that my commitment to them is genuine, ” she says. “This is very important in the processes of mediation of conflicts and in all work of transformation of a given situation.”
Mireia is a great communicator. She shares her experience in all kinds of human interactions, with small groups, formal courses, advising educational professionals, in congresses, in international networks, and in books and magazines. In spite of the thorny situation in the Basque Region today, Mireia hopes that “after eight years of conservative government with brutal hostility to everything Basque, the leftist government will start a dialogue towards peace.” And she adds: “Peace can be symbolically manifested by symbols once the conflict is accepted, like when the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Center received a public apology from the President of Germany for the atrocious bombardment of Guernica.
Peace is dignity, well being and beauty. These are concepts that must not be converted into poison.” (Read all on 1000peacewomen).