INTER – MEDIATE
Training course on intercultural social mediation
11th Dec to 18th Dec 2016, Worcester, United Kingdom
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
Social change has always been a process provoking tensions and clashes of interest. Introducing new cultures, combating exclusion of marginalised groups, supporting communication and cooperation of sides that for a long time were not willing to approach each other with respect and openness – all those issues are just steps in a long and challenging process of changing society and making it a comfortable and inclusive place for all people willing to be a part of it. This process, however, is not always quiet and peaceful, but often goes through severe conflicts and disputes. It requires a great deal of skills and competence to facilitate those conflicts and help the parties reach a solution that will lead them to the direction of dialogue, not confrontation.
AIM and OBJECTIVES:
The aim of ‘Inter-Mediate – training course on intercultural social mediation’ was to equip 35 youth workers and representatives of third sector from 12 countries ( The United Kingdom, Austria, Portugal, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Romania, Poland) with tools necessary for successful facilitation of conflicts arising on cultural, religious, political, or identity-related backgrounds.
During 6 days of training they had an opportunity to learn how to use mediation and
negotiation – methods efficiently used in international business relations – in order to support communication process and resolve disputes arising between conflicted groups. It is already proven on an international and national business level that mediation is the most efficient tool for bringing hostile parties together and supporting them in finding common grounds and interests. Participants learned how to identify various types of conflicts (conflict of values, generations, structures, relations, access to information etc.) arising on multicultural background and explored different methods of resolving them. The training focused on practice and simulations in order to provide the best learning environment and to enable participants to experience different conflicts that can arise in their daily work. Youth workers were challenged to both act as mediators and to experience the attitudes and emotions of conflicted sides. Simulations were based on real-life conflicts that are currently present in Europe in order to find solutions and recommendations that can be later implemented in other countries and environments.
The training course served as a first step for young workers willing to act as youth leaders, social mediators in their community, in local or intercultural disputes and who wanted to practice their communication and in general ‘soft’ skills to become more self-confident and skillful in terms of assisting and supporting others in their communication issues and disputes.
The objectives of the activity was to develop first steps, basic competences (knowledge, skills and attitudes) in the following areas:
- explore the topic of multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue;
- explore the topic of multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue;
- underpin the importance of decoding signs present in different cultures’;
- practice different communication styles;
- learn about origins of different types of conflicts and possible methods of solving them;
- promote and explain Alternative Dispute Resolutions;
- improve in practice skills relevant to effective negotiation and mediation, with special focus on Social Mediation;
- promote active participation of youth in civil society;
- create a field for further cooperation and development of new projects
Another over-arching objectives of the training was connected with general improvement of cultural sensitivity of the participants and empowering them to act as active representatives of their local communities, conflict facilitators and mediators.
During the training course we focused on teaching advanced techniques in multicultural
communication. Participants therefore had a chance to learn about various meanings of signs in different cultures and environments and the importance of decoding them. They learned how to identify various types of conflicts (conflict of values, generations, structures, relations, access to information etc.) arising on that background and explored different methods of resolving them.During all the sessions participants were working on developing different negotiating styles and strategies and deepening the knowledge about Alternative Dispute Resolutions.
The whole training was in the form of a field game simulating a real-life scenario of a conflict taking place in the imaginary land of Atlantis. The participants represented different parties to the dispute and through the series of workshops and lectures learned how to approach and resolve it. They began to develop both theoretical (such as strategic planning) and practical skills (i.e. public speaking, conducting a successful mediation, negotiating in extreme conditions). The scenario was a chance for the participants to learn and practice different communication strategies (one-on-one, multilateral, during
assemblies) in accordance to decision making procedures in their communities, countries and European Union. They were also challenged to resolve contemporary issues that are present in European policy to demonstrate the importance of thoughtful argument and understanding. During the whole game participants were assisted by professionals in the field of negotiation and mediation. The participants were also engaged into active learning procedure which allowed them to learn from their own experience and discuss their choices.
The main target group of the project was active youth workers, volunteers, activists and associates to the partner organisations, who work with youth and are dealing with the topics of multiculturalism, both directly (conducting activities in different cultural environments) and indirectly (teaching and raising awareness on multiculturalism). It was important that participants are active not only inside of the organisations, but also in their communities as multipliers and promoters of European values, social integration, multiculturalism etc.
Participants showed awareness of the social tensions and issues in their communities and ready to try to solve them with the use of mediation. Participants also represented different national, ethnic, religious or sexual cultural backgrounds in order to provide the widest possible scale of perceptions, opinions and behaviours during the training. While the whole methodology was based on simulations and would not allow any direct repercussions on participants, having such a diverse group allowed us to reflect the multiculturalism and conflicts that may easily arise between youth in the daily life without knowledge and understanding of mutual patterns of the cultural behaviours.
As a result of ‘Inter-Mediate’ training course participants began to develop first steps basic competences necessary to serve as social mediators in their communities and with further practice, patience and joint effort, they have the opportunity to support and facilitate social change in intercultural environments. In the long-run they will be able to contribute as facilitators in intercultural conflicts in Europe and abroad and to help relieve the tensions between immigrants and citizens of their host countries.
Here is a selection of the comments received:
Comments on the learning:
- It was good to practice negotiation.
- I improved my skills in negotiation and mediation, knowledge was refreshed but I’ve learned new methods and exercises
- I have learned a lot of new skills. Still more info is needed
- Good tips for negotiation and mediation
- I have gained useful skills concerning each aspect of the life (negotiation, mediation, conflict solution)
- I was satisfied about contents. I learnt several useful things.
Comments about the team and trainers:
- I liked the team very much as well as the methodology
- High quality trainers with tons of knowledge and plenty of useful theories. Very connected with the audience and transformers of a group of people into one only. Lucky me to have the opportunity to meet you all.
- Very supportive and good knowledge about the methodologies
- They facilitated, brought us structure. It was nice that we could fill in the space/time ourselves [problem solving approach in activities]
- Team: good organisation and very supportive. Trainers: have chosen the right exercises for each moment. Very nice people.
- Congratulations ont he perfect organisation.
- Very well managed schedule
Comments about Activities / Methodologies:
- Activities were good to bring out our participation and very interesting
- I really like the simulation game. I think it is a very good way to approach the issues and to keep a safe environment
General feelings about the course:
- The groups were spread well with a good mix of backgrounds
- Great teambuilding job. I feel good in activities workshop and after as well.
- Very positive emotions after the week spent together
- It was challenging but I liked a lot working with different people. Feelings changed from frustration to fulfillment.