Listen Up! Building capacities of youth mediators

This international youth exchange took place in Belgrade (Serbia) and brought together almost 30 activists from the whole Europe. For a week they were learning together and from each other how to deal with conflict – what can be done to prevent the escalation, how to transform tension into a learning opportunity, how to address the formal and informal hierarchies and, last but not least, how to organize and conduct conflict mediation.

What happened?

The 7 day training started with getting to know each other and setting the learning goals. We believe that familiarizing the environment is the first step to create a safer space and a temporary community, both supporting the process of learning.
Next we moved to explore the topic of communication; by using the models and theoretical inputs, participants were analyzing their communication styles, reflecting on the possible improvements and practicing new skills.
Before learning about mediation we spent one day looking at conflict and arguments from different perspectives; by revealing and naming numerous beliefs about conflict we have been offered a reflection about the societal constructed image of fight, conflict or quarrel. An open talk about informal hierarchies, structural discrimination, unequal power distribution or privileges let us see clearly, how they cause, affect and make things very challenging to transform conflict situation.
The 2 last content days were dedicated to mediation; we focused on exercises and role plays first in order to try out and apply new solutions to real life examples. Practicing is such a crucial part of the learning process, so some of us wanted to stay one week longer πŸ™‚ Thanks to facilitated next steps, participants were given the room to plan future collaboration and their individual curriculum.

Main objective:
Empower youth to take on an active role as conflict mediators in their communities.

Sub-objectives:
a) create a space for intercultural learning on youth experiences with conflicts in their communities;
b) provide youth with the necessary skills and tools to engage in conflict transformation and conflict mediation;
c) produce a podcast on conflict mediation.

Outcomes

After taking part in the activity, the participants gained a broader understanding of different perspectives on conflict and how to mediate/transform it. Thanks to their new knowledge and skills they can now face stressful situations with more confidence.
With the acquired awareness and receptivity they are now able to spot conflict potential in grassroots groups and work to improve mutual understanding in the relationships between each other and within the group. They reflect on structural discrimination, privileges and oppression as common sources of conflicts and know how to approach the issue in order to smoothly and inclusively solve it.
People who took part in the training excellently facilitated their free time and balanced between socializing and networking on one hand and resting and reflecting on the other. We are proud we had the chance to initiate the space, where the topics of fighting and disagreeing have been discussed in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and support. Thanks to everyone who joined us!

The most exciting part is the series of podcasts collaboratively designed, recorded and edited by our participants and their supporters. What topics do we explore:
β€’ What can we learn from facing conflicts? How to transform them and use as learning opportunties;
β€’ Mediation – does impartiality exist? Dos and don’ts of conflict mediation;
β€’ Mediation – case study. How the process looks like?
β€’ Self-organized conflict mediation as a community accountability tool. How to start?
Coming soon! Don’t forget to check our latest posts.

This project was made possible with the financial support of the European Youth Foundation – Council of Europe.