Early Childhood Development Advances The Culture of Peace

Early Childhood Development Advances The Culture of Peace

ECPC Open House Conference at Yale University

How we nurture and care for, teach and protect all our children matters, from generation to generation. - ECPC


Presenting the “ECPC Conference Speaker Video Series”. Watch 14 compelling talks by 25 world champions in evidence-based science and practice, education, human migration, web technology and media. Learn why they join together in expertise to pave a road to hope and build pathways to peace through the transformative power of children and families. Hear them sound the global call to action as they launch the ECPC Pledge to Action for Peace.


This ECPC event was organized by and made possible with support from Queen’s University Belfast LINKS, Yale University, UNICEF and the ECPC. 

► ECPC Conference Speaker Video Series  

Distinguished ECPC affiliated presenters join us from the halls of Yale University (Child Study Center, the MacMillan Center for Area Studies, Web Services) Queen’s University Belfast, the United Nations, The Global Movement for The Culture of Peace, UNICEF, Sesame Workshop, ACEV-Mother Child Education Foundation, IRIS-Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, and the NGO Committee on Migration.

In the list below, click on the arrow beside each video image to watch the video, read its description, learn more about the speaker(s), and gain to access to relevant information.

This video series’ playlist is also available on the ECPC YouTube channel.

1. Pathways to peace: The transformative power of children and families
james leckman, Yale child study center
2. IRIS - A message of unity, education and how children can lead us toward building peace in the world
will B. kneerim, iris
  • Watch series video 2
  • Description: In this presentation, Will Kneerim shares heartfelt heroic and hopeful stories from the front lines of his work with refugee children and their families who have resettled in the Connecticut from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.  Despite high levels of post traumatic stress (PTSD) experienced by 60-70% of the resettling refugees, the impact of their receiving early learning and academic tutoring, healthcare and life long support is both empowering and awe inspiring in building social cohesion among groups and paving a road to peace.
  • SpeakerWill Kneerim lived and worked in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and both coasts of North America during his career in global logistics.  He pursued a transition to the non-profit sector where for the last five years he’s directed programs at IRIS- Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, CT.  IRIS responded to the global refugee crisis in 2015 by more than doubling its clientele from Africa and the Middle East, helping UN designated refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria and elsewhere begin new lives.  Will has been a presenter, panelist and moderator at universities and conferences around the U.S., and has served in board leadership positions for philanthropic and arts organizations.
3. The ECPC Pledge to Action for Peace
miss lames abdelrahman, iris refugee ambassador from sudan
4. Building a world of peace: The promise of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium - ECPC
rima salah, ECPC
  • Watch series video 4
  • Description: Today more than ever before millions of children and their families are trapped in situations of war, conflict, violence and displacement. Science shows that violence has a detrimental effect on the development of young children. In this presentation, Dr. Rima Salah shows that we have every opportunity to make a transformative shift, and raise the voice of science to join with the voice of “we the peoples” to stop war and violence in the world, promoting a “Culture of Peace”.  Dr. Salah gives a brief history of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC), from conception to official launch to present day. She underscores its pioneering vision to create an inclusive movement for peace and social justice, through using evidence informed early childhood  development strategies, founded on the idea that children and families can be agents of change for peace.
  • Speaker: Rima Salah, PhD, Chair and founding member, ECPC; Assistant Clinical Professor in the Yale Child Study Center; Former Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF. Dr. Salah has served as a Member of the United Nations High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (2014-15), and as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). In addition, Dr. Salah has had a distinguished career with UNICEF. Her service includes: Deputy Executive Director for UNICEF (2004-2007, 2011-2012), Regional Director for West and Central Africa (1999-2004), and UNICEF representative in several countries including Vietnam, Burkina Faso as well as head of office in Queta, Pakistan. Read Dr. Salah’s full biography.
  • Recommended reading:
    1. Donaldson, C., F. Affolter, L. A. Ponguta, R. Salah, P. R. Britto, J. F. Leckman, P. Connolly, S. Fitzpatrick, and P. Walmsley. (2018). Contributions of early childhood development programming to sustainable peace and development. New York City: Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC).
    2. Salah, R. (2018). Global citizenship and the role of the United Nations: The promise of the Early Childhood Peace ConsortiumNew Directions for Child and Adolescent Development 2018, no. 159: 99-105.
    3. Leckman, J., C. Panter-Brick, and R. Salah. (2014). Pathways to peace: The transformative power of children and families. Vol. 15. Cambridge MA US / London UK: MIT Press.
    4. Leckman, J., C. Panter-Brick, and R. Salah. (2014). Peace is a lifelong process: The importance of partnerships. In Pathways to Peace: The Transformative Power of Children and Families, edited by J. Leckman, C. Panter-Brick and R. Salah, 3-17. Vol. 15. MIT Press.
5. Keynote: Building brains, building futures
pia r britto, UNICEF
  • Watch series video 5
  • Description: It takes a child to raise a village – yes, you read that right. Join Dr. Pia Britto to learn about young children’s brain development, and how the right interventions in the early years of life build stronger individuals, stronger communities, sustainable development and peace.

Early childhood is a critical time for individual growth. This short period is unique because of the unparalleled speed at which brain architecture develops. This development is the continuous acquisition of skills and abilities across the domains of cognition, language, motor, social and emotional development—in short, what we need to think, solve problems, communicate, express our emotions, build resilience, and form relationships. A child’s development results from interactions with the environment, therefore the experiences in the first few years of life have serious, long-lasting effects. The brain is like a sponge that soaks up positive and negative experiences, which in turn influence the blueprint of its architecture.

In this video, Dr. Britto explains the outcomes of both positive and negative experiences in early childhood. She dives into the neuroscience of how a nurturing environment can effectuate healthy brain development, and what ‘nurturing’ means; how this environment can be enabled by early childhood services; and how this contributes to sustainable development and social cohesion. Conversely, Dr. Britto expounds the potentially lifelong impacts of negative experiences on social-emotional wellbeing, memory, and learning, which can later manifest as a reduced ability to earn and form positive interpersonal relationships, and exacerbated distrust. For society, this can mean higher unemployment rates, thus higher public expenditure; intergenerational poverty; and a perpetuation of inequity and ultimately, violence and conflict.

Watch this video to understand how giving every child the best start in life can make a world of difference for them, and a difference in the world for us. NOW is the time for all of us to act to build brains, and build futures.

6 Part I. Overview: Supporting the development of ECD programs for peacebuilding: Experiences from the NIHR Global Health Research Group
Paul Connolly, Sarah Miller, Queen’s Univ belfast
  • 6a. NIHR Research Study Overview

    • Watch series video 6, Part I 
    • Description: Presenting Part I “Overview: Supporting the Development of ECD Programs for Peacebuilding: Experience from the NIHR Global Health Research Group on ECD for Peacebuilding” by Professors Paul Connolly and Sarah Miller, Queen’s University Belfast. This research study at Queen’s University Belfast, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) of the United Kingdom, supports an international research group on early childhood development for peacebuilding (See Queen’s University Belfast - LINKS). 
    • Speakers:
      • Paul Connolly, PhD, is Professor of Education and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen’s University Belfast, and Member ECPC Executive Committee. He is Director of the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding. He is Founding Director of the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen’s and has particular expertise in the evaluation of educational programs. He is a sociologist and has been researching issues of diversity and inclusion in early childhood for over 25 years.
      • Sarah Miller, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Education at Queen’s University Belfast, and ECPC Expert Consultant. She is a member of the Core Delivery Team of the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding and is responsible for leading the Group’s work in Mali and Vietnam.  Sarah is also the Deputy Director of the Campbell UK & Ireland centre. She is a Developmental Psychologist with expertise in program evaluation and evidence synthesis.
6 Part II. Delegation Panel discussion: Supporting the development of ECD programs for peacebuilding: Experiences from the NIHR Global Health Research Group
dunne et al, Queen’s Univ belfast
  • Watch series video 6, Part II
  • Description: Presenting Part II “Panel Discussion: Supporting the Development of ECD Programs for Peacebuilding: Experience from the NIHR Global Health Research Group on ECD for Peacebuilding” (Queen’s University Belfast, LINKS). This panel discussion, moderated by Professor Laura Dunne, brings together research team members from Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Vietnam to explore the challenges faced by country teams in developing programmes aimed to identify opportunities for early childhood development (ECD) and peace building in each country. The insights offered by those “on the ground” provide important learning opportunities for those of us working to enhance ECD services and advance peace building in conflict affected areas across the globe.
  • ModeratorLaura Dunne, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Education at Queen’s University Belfast, and ECPC Expert Consultant. She is a member of the Core Delivery Team of the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding and is responsible for leading the Group’s work in Egypt Timor-Leste. Laura is a Developmental Psychologist with particular expertise in program design and evaluation.
  • Delegation panelists(To learn more, click on the name of each panelist below.)
    • Inas Hegazi, PhDis the ECD Manager at UNICEF Egypt Country Office. She is recognized for her expertise in policy development, advocacy and sector wide reforms for promoting the rights of children as established under the CRC and other international frameworks. 

    • Chinara Dzhumagulova, PhD, is ECD Officer at UNICEF Kyrgyzstan Country Office. She has 29 years of experience in the areas of education and youth program development, teacher training and management, advocacy, and monitoring and evaluation. 

    • Isaaka Sagara, MD, Head Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Data Management Unit, Malaria Research and Training CNT, University Bamako-USTTB, Mali

    • Jamshed Kurbonov, MSSW, is Education Officer at UNICEF Tajikistan Country Office. He is responsible for ensuring overall efficiency and effectiveness of the early childhood education programme management, delivery and accomplishment through effective planning, monitoring and evaluation, and partnership initiatives, including strengthening the capacity of education authorities and stakeholders to implement programmes that facilitate provision of accessible, inclusive and quality ECE services. 

    • Joao da Costa, MBA, is Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, UNICEF Timor-Leste Country Office. His areas of professional skills include Programme Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Capacity building on Results Based Management (RBM), Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming, and more. 

    • Phan Thi Thu Hien, MD, Dean ECD Department, Ho Chi Minh City Univ of Education, Vietnam

7. Helping children flourish: From generation to generation
linda mayes, yale child study center
  • Watch series video 7
  • Description: Dr. Linda Mayes makes a conference cameo appearance to underscore the mission of the Yale Child Study Center to which she is Chair, and to show support for the ECPC.
  • Speaker:  Linda Mayes, MD is the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Director of the Yale Child Study Center.  She is also Special Advisor to the Dean in the Yale School of Medicine.  Trained as a pediatrician, Dr. Mayes’s research focuses on stress-response and regulatory mechanisms in young children at both biological and psychosocial risk. She has especially focused on the impact of prenatal substance use on children’s long-term outcome. She has made contributions to understanding the mechanisms of effect of prenatal stimulant exposure on the ontogeny of arousal regulatory systems and the relation between dysfunctional emotional regulation and impaired prefrontal cortical function in young children.  She has published widely in the developmental psychology, pediatrics, and child psychiatry literature. 

Given the nature of her work with children at significantly high-risk for developmental impairments from both biological and psychosocial etiologies, Dr. Mayes also focuses on the impact of parenting on the development of arousal and attention regulatory mechanisms in their children and specifically on how substance abuse impacts reward and stress regulatory systems in new parents. With other colleagues in the Center, she studies how adults transition to parenthood especially when substance abuse is involved and the basic neural circuitry of early parent-infant attachment using both neuroimaging and electroencephalographic techniques. She and her colleagues have developed a series of interventions for parents including an intensive home-based program called Minding the Baby.

Her research programs are multidisciplinary not only in their blending basic science with clinical interventions but also in the disciplines required including adult and child psychiatry, behavioral neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, and neuropsychology. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor in psychology at Sewanee: The University of the South where she is working on intervention programs to enhance child and family resilience.

8. Keynote: Sesame Street in refugee and host communities: The promise of early childhood development
sherrie r westin, sesame workshop
9. Paving a road to hope: Time for action to protect migrant and refugee children’s rights
maria p.B. Mignati, ngo migration cmte
  • Watch series video 9
  • Description: Forced migration is an increasing global challenge: children and families are obliged to leave their homes for many reasons. Many of these children are under the age of five. In countries of origin, transit and in host countries they encounter traumatic circumstances with a daily violation of their rights. They represent one of the most pressing humanitarian challenges of our time, but their needs are neglected.
    In this presentation, Dr. Maria Pia Belloni Mignatti calls attention to scientific evidence that highlights the importance of early interventions for young children living under adverse conditions and a new commitment is growing, at international level, to support early childhood development (ECD) for migrant and refugee children. Now it is time to turn these commitments into reality, working together in a coordinated manner, paving a road to hope for millions of young children and their families living in crisis and in conflicts.
  • Speaker. Positions held by Dr. Mignatti include: Chair, NGO Committee on Migration; UN Representative, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP); Member of the Steering Committee “Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts”, Geneva, Switzerland; and Member of the Advisory Board of the Early Childhood Development Peace Consortium (ECPC). Dr. Mignatti has published books and articles on different aspects of the European Union integration, mainly about migration policy.
  • Recommended reading and links
  1. Forced Migration Review. (2019). Education needs, rights and access in displacement
  2. United Nations. (2018). Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. New York: United Nations.
  3. Moving Minds Alliance. (2018). ECD and early learning for children in crisis and conflict
  4. IOM UN Migration. (2018). Migration and the 2030 Agenda. A guide for practitioners.
  5. United Nations. (2016). New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1). New York
  6. United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development (A/Res/70/1). New York: United Nations. 
  7. UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The global compact on refugees
  8. International Rescue Committee and Sesame Street
  9. UNICEF, Learning for Peace Program 
  10. ACEV Program (Mother and Child Education Program)
  11. iACT-Little Ripples
  12. UNHCR  implemented ECD programs in refugees camps in Rwanda 
  13. Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), organized the program Me and My Child in Crisis
  14. Moving Minds Alliance
10. Biosocial research on stress and resilience
catherine panter-brick, Yale
  • Watch series video 10
  • Description: This presentation exemplifies a biocultural framework for measuring stress and resilience amongst populations living under challenging circumstances.  It also builds the evidence regarding efforts to evaluate program effectiveness - ‘putting interventions to the test’ - with examples drawn from humanitarian work with Syrian refugees in Jordan.  It concludes on the importance of partnerships.
  • SpeakerCatherine Panter-Brick, PhD is Professor of Anthropology, Health, and Global Affairs at Yale University, and ECPC Expert Consultant. As a medical anthropologist, she directs the Program on Conflict, Resilience, and Health and the Program on Stress and Family Resilience, working on issues of risk and resilience to develop effective partnerships across academia, policy, and practice.
  • Links:
    1. Yale MacMillan Center, Conflict, Resilience, and Health Program
    2. Program on Stress and Family Resilience
11. Knowledge brokering: Translating research into policy and practice
Ponguta, donaldson, hanoz-penny, affolter
  • Watch Series Video 11
  • Description: This session features key publications sponsored by the ECPC, as well as published research that has been mobilized/inspired by the ECPC agenda. Panelists discuss the scope of a few selected publications and the way in which agencies may translate the outcomes of the research into practice. The discussion will include the conceptualization and evolution of the theory of change for the ECPC and will feature mechanisms for its framing and dissemination.  
  • Session Chair. Angelica Ponguta, PhD, MPH  is an Associate Research Scientist in the Yale Child Study Center, and ECPC Expert Consultant. Angelica Ponguta is Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. Her research focuses on the development and analysis of Early Childhood Development policies and has worked alongside UNICEF and governments in East and West Africa, South East Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and Latin America. Her work also focuses on impact and process evaluations of early childhood and parenting programs, as well as the development of measures to assess the quality of services for young children at scale. 
  • Session panelists:
  • Chelsea Donaldson, MS is Data and Research Manager at Empatico, and ECPC Expert Consultant. Chelsea Donaldson, MSc is the Data and Research Manager at Empatico, a free education tool aiming to build meaningful relationships among children around the world through virtual connections. Donaldson also works with UNICEF and the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) to produce research and advocacy materials that link early childhood development programs, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding. Before this, she was a Fulbright scholar in the Netherlands conducting research on autism spectrum disorders.
  • Suna Hanoz-Penny, MA is Director of International Programs at ACEV - Mother Child Education Foundation, Turkey, and Member, ECPC Executive Committee. Suna Hanöz-Penney works as the Director of International Programs at ACEV— Mother Child Education Foundation in Istanbul. Turkey. Her work involves building collaborative partnerships, while she manages the transfer and implementation of ACEV’s educational programs to local organizations in numerous countries including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Lao PDR, and Brazil. She designs and supervises the early intervention programs for children and families implemented at both the national and international fields. Suna is a Fulbright Scholar, received her dual M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and Psychological Guidance & Counseling from Boğazici University, Istanbul. She is presently pursuing a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School.  
  • Friedrich Affolter, EdD, is an Education Expert for Risk-Informed Programming at UNICEF NY Programme Division. He also serves as Secretary of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium [ECPC]. Until June 2016, Friedrich Affolter served as the manager of UNICEF’s Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (PBEA), which designed education programmes that contribute to the mitigation of drivers of conflict in 14 fragile and post-conflict countries. Earlier UN assignments include Sudan, South Africa, Angola and Afghanistan. 
  • ECPC publications:
    1. Donaldson, C., F. Affolter, L. A. Ponguta, R. Salah, P. R. Britto, J. F. Leckman, P. Connolly, S. Fitzpatrick, and P. Walmsley. (2018). Contributions of Early Childhood Development Programming to Sustainable Peace and Development. New York City: Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC).
    2. Donaldson, Chelsea. (2017). Contributions of Early Childhood Development Services to Preventing Violent Conflict and Sustaining Peace [Eng, Ara, Fre, Spa, Tur], Edited by Liliana Angelica Ponguta, Friedrich Affolter and Pia Rebello Britto. Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC).
    3. L.Angelica Ponguta; C. Donaldson; F. Affolter; P. Connolly; L. Dunne; S. Miller; P. Britto; R. Salah; J. Leckman. (2018). Early childhood development programs, peacebuilding, and the Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities for interdisciplinary research and multisectoral partnerships. In: Verma S., Petersen A. (eds) Developmental Science and Sustainable Development Goals for Children and Youth. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 74. Springer, Cham.
    4. Leckman, J. F.C. Panter-Brick, and R. Salah. Pathways to Peace: The Transformative Power of Children and Families. Vol. 15. Cambridge MA US / London UK: MIT Press, 2014.
    5. Yale University and ACEV Partnership. (2012). Ecology of peace: Formative childhoods and peace building. A brief note. New Haven, CT and Istanbul, Turkey: Yale-ACEV Partnership.
12. Some thoughts from the “Front Lines” of early childhood
carla horwitz, yale Child Study Center
  • Watch series video 12
  • Description: This talk, “Some Thoughts from the “Front Lines” of Early Childhood from a 50 year “Veteran” in the Field” shares what those who dedicate their lives to nurturing young children in all kinds of early childhood settings have learned about helping them to become moral beings and empathic, thinking, feeling and caring citizens of the world. Spending time with young children every day, our job is to teach children to live in groups, to begin to take another’s point of view, to be in touch with their feelings (and those of others) to be curious about and have reverence for the people and environment around them, and to take responsibility for their actions and their words. Supporting this social-emotional and intellectual development is crucial if we are to have hope for the next generations on our planet.
  • SpeakerCarla Horwitz, EdD is Lecturer at the Yale Child Study Center and Education Studies Program and Department of Psychology; Director Emerita of Calvin Hill Day Care Center and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten. She is a member of the Yale Education Studies faculty, as well as a member of the faculties of the Yale Child Study Center and Psychology Department. Carla was the Director of Yale University’s Calvin Hill Day Care Center for forty years. She retired in 2016 and is currently Director Emerita. Carla has established several funded post-graduate teaching fellowships in child development and early childhood education. She continues to engage in advocacy on behalf of children, families and early childhood education at the local, state and national level and to consult to child care and early education programs as well as to other education-related settings. Her research interests include the creation and implementation of progressive, culturally sensitive curriculum, play and its role in developmentally appropriate early care and education, supervision, mentoring and the professional development of teachers, and educational leadership.
13. Leveraging the Web to harness the energies of love
franz joseph hartl, Yale
  • Watch series video 13
  • Description: Franz Joseph Hartl, JD, takes us a history ride with stops at thresholds in time when humanity embarks upon breakthroughs in mass communication. From the printing press to the birth of the Information Age, Franz affirms we are on the precipice of change. He invites us to leverage the power of the web to harness the energies of love, and to build sustainable peace using early childhood development strategies. See Franz officially launch the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) online platform.
  • SpeakerFranz Joseph Hartl, JD is University Webmaster for Yale, where he and his team of software engineers and content strategists build, support, and maintain over 1000 distinct Yale properties, including Yale.edu. He serves as an Executive Committee member of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC).
14. Keynote: Building ‘The Culture of Peace’: Call for transformative action
h.e. Amb. anwarul k chowdhury, united nations
  • Watch series video 14
  • Description: Known to many as the Father of The Culture of Peace, H.E. Ambassador K. Chowdhury speaks to the urgency of the times and issues a call for global transformative action. He asserts that investing in the early years of life is crucial if we are to build sustainable peace by fostering generations of reconciliation.
  • KeynoteH.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury has devoted many years as an inspirational champion for sustainable peace and development and ardently advancing the cause of the global movement for the culture of peace that has energized civil society all over the world. Ambassador Chowdhury has a wealth of experience in the critical issues of our time - peace, sustainable development, and human rights. He is founder of the Global Movement for The Culture of Peace, and founding member of the ECPC to which he serves as member of its Executive Committee. As a career diplomat and Permanent Representative to United Nations, he has served as President of the UN Security Council, President of UNICEF Board, UN Under-Secretary-General, the Senior Special Advisor to the UN General Assembly President. He is a recipient of the U Thant Peace Award, UNESCO Gandhi Gold Medal for Culture of Peace, and Spirit of the UN Award and University of Massachusetts Boston Chancellor’s Medal for Global Leadership for Peace. 
  • Recommended reading:  Learn more about the Global Movement for The Culture of Peace, its historical achievements as results of the United Nations resolutions, and access to official documents and related materials.

It is our hope that this important information can be used to augment your work in the fields of early childhood development, care and education; child rights and protection; building peace and fostering social cohesion among individuals and groups, communities and nations; and more.

The promise of the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) is to join forces with the international community by creating a global movement to build more peaceful homes and societies, drawing on the experience of early childhood development and the transformative power of children and families, pillared by science- and practice-based evidence.

This ECPC Conference video series was recorded on 29 November 2018 at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.

Special note of thanks to the Yale UNICEF Chapter for their volunteer support. 


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