jeev edited.jpg

Peace Talks – Jeevasree

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Jeevasree from Commonwealth Secondary School:

 

Q: How did you feel about the Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Peacemakers Conference 2017 was an amazing experience! I was able to meet so many new people and had so much fun while learning many new things that are useful in life. It was an enjoyable experience as well, since we were able to learn through fun activities while making new friends.

 

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?

The competition rounds were my favourite and most memorable part of the Conference. We were given the opportunity to test our mediation skills with our friends from both our schools and different schools in front of guest judges. Given a scenario, we had to either act as mediators and help solve our friends’ problems, or we had to act out as the friends in trouble. Not only were we able to get the experience of how it would feel like as a mediator, but we were also able to get feedback to improve, and also have fun in being an actor!

 

Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?

I was able to help many of my friends whenever they had problems by better understanding their problems, and reading their facial expressions and reactions more effectively. I was also able to apply mediation and help them to solve their own problems independently.

For example, there was once when 3 of my friends were involved in a quarrel. It was taking a while for them to solve their problems and talk things through. Thus, I brought them somewhere to talk in private. I mostly sat there quietly and asked questions instead of giving them advice, to help them understand the situation and their own feelings as well as the other party’s feelings better. This helped them to find a solution together, understand each other and the situation better, and learn from their mistakes as well

 

Q: If you had one piece of advice for incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018, what would it be?

The Peacemakers Conference may seem like a waste of time at first, but always have an open mind and bond with your group to make it a more enjoyable and better experience for you. I think that the lessons learnt are actually useful in life, and many of my friends think so as well!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

Gwen Cheng

Peace Talks – Gwen Cheng

In our interview series, entitled “Peace Talks”, we speak to peacemakers with different backgrounds and life stories, and ask them to share their thoughts and reflections. 

This edition of “Peace Talks” features Gwen Cheng (front row, leftmost) from Commonwealth Secondary School:

 

Q: What made you sign up for Peacemakers Conference 2016?

Peer Support Leaders from Commonwealth are required to attend this conference. Since I am a PSL, I attended the conference. This was the first ever PSL event/activity that I was involved in 🙂

 

Q: How was your Peacemakers experience and what was most memorable about Peacemakers Conference 2016?

Looking back, my Peacemakers Conference was amazing. Although I felt that I could not exactly apply the lessons in school, it did give me a lot of insight about the little things that mattered like body language, word choice etc. Peacemakers Conference is unique as it fills a gap that society has – it makes the participant focus on reason and logic. As the name of the conference suggests, we’re trying to spread peace through communication and make effective use of communication to breed a more tolerant and accepting society.

My most memorable experience will definitely be the tour at the Supreme Court. We learnt a lot about the different courts, procedures, rules and more. It was not exactly applicable but it is incredibly interesting. What’s more, with law students/ mentors (mine was Shen-nen) who are more than willing to share as much info as possible with you, the experience is definitely eye-opening.

 

Q: What advice would you give to participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2018?

Three long days will seem boring and exhausting, but surprisingly information gained will always remain. Enjoy yourselves and spam as many questions as you can, because this may be the only time you’ll ever get such strong information on mediation and advice about our growing society. All the best!

 


For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

Sherylynn

Peace Talks – Sherlynn Oh

Hello Peacemakers!

This is the beginning of our interview series, “Peace Talks”, in the run-up to Peacemakers Conference 2017. For our first post, we have Sherlynn Oh Min Yee (middle row, rightmost) from Yishun Town Secondary School:

Why did you choose to participate in Peacemakers Conference 2016?

I was chosen by the teacher in charge of the monitor council, Mr Ten to sign up for Peacemaker Conference 2016. Before making my decision, I went to read up about the conference and felt that it would enrich my experience as a monitor. As a monitor, I am supposed to resolve fights and arguments in my class. By signing up for Peacemakers Conference, I will get to learn how to better communicate with my classmates and be more neutral when mediating conflicts.

How was your experience at Peacemakers 2016?

At the start of the Peacemakers Conference, I was rather afraid as I did not have prior experience mediating. I was also worried that I would not get along well with other students from other schools. However, we had ice breakers games to get to know each other and by the end of the Conference, we all became friends!

The Peacemakers Conference was very enriching as I got to role play different characters. The role-playing exercise was the most memorable part of the conference. We had to act as either the party or the mediator with students from other schools and thus had the chance to interact and work with them. The trainers were also there to watch and gave us feedback on how to improve. Through these role plays, I got to experience how both parties would feel which enabled me to be more sensitive with my words when handling an argument in my class.

Could you share with us your experiences being a finalist at the friendly competition!

I did not expect myself to be chosen as a finalist! I was worried that I would make mistakes during the competition. During the finals, my partner and I had to co-mediate a scenario which was roleplayed by the trainers in front of everyone. I was afraid that I would not do well and let the teachers down but my partner kept on encouraging me. In the end, even though I made a few mistakes during the competition, I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as I managed to apply whatever I had learnt. After the competition, I became more confident when mediating conflicts in my class and felt more courageous to speak in front of a group of people. I was glad that I had the opportunity to participate in the competition as it really enabled me to step out of my comfort zone!

What advice would you give to participants of Peacemakers Conference 2017?

For participants of Peacemaker Conference 2017, do not be afraid to try even if you do not have any prior experience in mediation. Your friends will be by your side supporting you throughout the journey and it will be an enriching experience for you. It is normal to feel nervous and worried at the start, but as you progress, you will slowly build your confidence and be an outstanding mediator. Most importantly, don’t give up when you face any problems and have fun!!

19417157_1199018296892142_9159305351232143657_o

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them – Peacemakers Conference 2017

On 12 July 2017, our Training and Development Advisor, Associate Professor Joel Lee, published a blog post on the Kluwer Mediation Blog entitled “And A Little Child Shall Lead Them – Peacemakers Conference 2017”. His blog post is reproduced in full below.


I have in previous entries (July 2012, July 2013, November 2015 and August 2016) written about a peer mediation initiative called the Peacemakers Conference. The purpose of the Peacemakers Conference is to teach 13-16 year olds how to resolve conflicts amicably in a workshop cum competition format. This year’s Peacemakers Conference was held from 19 to 21 June 2017.

As in previous years, we asked students from different schools to work together to create a visual metaphor for mediation. This started in 2015 and has become a regular feature in the Peacemakers Conference.

This year, the students came up with 8 visual metaphors which I would like to share with readers in this entry. For each of these, an image of the metaphor is shared along with a description of the metaphor. Readers can also watch these students present their metaphors at the Peacemakers Facebook page.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Ms. Jennifer LIM Wei Zhen for capturing the description of each of the metaphors that appear below.

1. Mediation is like a lighthouse

Mediation is like a lighthouse, that provides illumination in the dark night. It guides ships safely to shore by providing light that penetrates the dark. Similarly, mediation guides conflicting parties to an agreement. It provides the signal of hope to their final destination: the shore that promises safety.

Mediation guides parties in conflict to get over their sea of difference and anger, to reach the place of safety: the shore where family is: bringing conflicted parties home with the bright light of mediation – because they care and hope is rekindled.

2. Mediation is like solving a puzzle

Mediation is like solving a puzzle as to solve the conflict, you need a big picture, just like referring to the picture on the box of a puzzle to solve it. Mediators need to gather and piece the different puzzles to solve the problem. Mediators find the piece that fits into the puzzle, and satisfies both parties’ needs.

Although each puzzle piece is different, they are brought together in trying to solve the puzzle. This parallels how in mediation, parties have different mindsets, but the mediator brings them together to resolve the situation.

Every puzzle piece is important, just as how all 4 steps in the process of mediation are important: without each of them, the mediation would be a failure.

The process of solving a puzzle highlights the traits a mediator should have: patience and perseverance. Like solving a puzzle, mediation may take hours or days to finish. Mediation takes quite long as parties cannot easily understand each other or find it difficult to come to a common ground. If a mediator rushes to conclude a mediation, the outcome might not be what the parties actually want. It requires persevering through a lot of trial and error. If the mediator gives up, the parties have no one left to help them resolve their conflict: the mediator is like a light for the parties.

3. Mediation is medication for a war yet fought

Mediation is like medication as it mends the wound in the parties’ hearts, and allows them to better understand each other.

Medication:

  • The bottle of medication contains pills that are initially shaped as bullets. This parallels how initially, we only see the surface or the position of the parties. The words the parties say to each other in furthering their position may come out as sharp or hurtful – like bullets.
  • After mediation, the parties understand each other better, so the bullets become heart-shaped: meaning the conflict can be resolved amicably.

A War yet fought:

  • This is represented by the broken gun: which symbolizes attacks that are broken and conflicts that are being resolved.
  • This parallels how many problems can be solved with mediation before they escalate into a “war” (such as a court case).

4. Mediation is like raging towards the dying light while fixing a broken vase in a universe of hope

This metaphor can be broken down into 3 parts.

  • “Mediation is like raging towards the dying light”: this is depicted by the person in bed at the top of the picture. He is about to die, and is fighting against his own fate. Raging means to fight, and this quote means to fight against the dying light. Similarly, mediation is going against their internal conflict, going against the fate of the broken relationship, and hoping against hope, to get something out of it, to patch things up within themselves.
  • “While fixing a broken vase”: the vase represents the communication and understanding between the 2 parties. While mediation fixes the broken vase, the vase will never look the same. Nonetheless, something new is still rebuilt. Even if the relationship is not as perfect as before, mediation still helps the two parties understand each other.
  • “In a universe of hope”: the whole universe is something we have never seen before, but we know exists. Mediation helps people find that hope that people want, even if we can’t see it yet.

The process of mediation is as difficult as raging, but it allows understanding between parties by facilitating communication between them.

5. Mediation is like the Power of Attraction

The mediator is like a magnet, and the puzzle pieces are the elements of mediation. The mediator will ask the right questions to let the parties share their interests. The mediator will use their power to attract the right pieces for the parties to form a picture and common understanding of each other, to facilitate resolving the matter.

6. Mediation is like a Bridge

Mediation is like a bridge between two cliffs that are initially apart. Not being able to resolve a conflict hurts like a volcano and tsunami (depicted at the bottom of each cliff). This creates the sea of grief, emotions, and sorrow in between them.

Mediation lay and rebuilds a foundation between the parties with the strong sturdy bridge. It is not biased, but a platform to lead to each other, at their own pace to find their own hope and universe. It allows the parties to get out from the thunderstorm they are under and share the beautiful scene of the rainbow after the storm together, and create new beautiful memories. It’s no longer about victory or defeat, but creating a future together for both parties to enjoy.

Just as how mediation is a voluntary process, this bridge only works if both parties are willing to take a step forward, to take down their walls and build the bridge. Mediation is a bridge where parties stop talking about each other, but talk to each other. The parties are also contained in a bubble, in their own universe. This represents the confidentiality of mediation: no one knows about them – this bridge and universe is only for them, and significant to them only.

7. Mediation is like a Hammer

Like a hammer, mediation has the capacity to destroy or build structures (relationships). Nails can cause wounds, but they can also hold things in place. Thus, the nails are labelled “love”, “friendship”, “family”, “trust”. As the students wittily added: “Nails also mean if you did it [mediation] well, you NAILED it!” (sic).

8. Mediation Unlocks Hearts

Mediation unlocks hearts because when parties go through the mediation, they let down their ego and open up to each other. A hand is depicted as being wrapped around the padlock, as it is the mediator’s hand and touch that helps unlock the hearts. Although what is depicted is a single heart shape, this is because biologically speaking, the shape of a real human heart technically only comprises half a heart-shape. Thus, what is depicted is a single heart made of two human biological hearts: joined as one through mediation.

That brings us to the end of another installment of visual metaphors for mediation! I hope readers found some of these as inspiring as we did!

DSCF6197

Peace Talks – Chua Ting Fang

The Peacemakers Conference 2017 will commence in one day! For our final edition of “Peace Talks” before the Conference, Chua Ting Fang (second from left), a former facilitator, shares her thoughts:

Why did you choose to become a facilitator at the Peacemakers Conference?

I had the good fortune of being taught mediation by Joel back in NUS, and it was from him that I first heard about the Peacemakers Conference. He was seeking volunteer facilitators from students who have gone through the course, and I thought- what a great idea! To be part of a conference where mediation skills will be taught to young students, and where I can offer some perspective and learn from/alongside them as well. Naturally, I signed up immediately.

I did so because I strongly believe in mediation, and I still think that the earlier these skills are taught to young minds, the better. I think the extent to which there is conflict and confusion in this world is also the extent of opportunity for better communication. I think that all of us fall prey to assumptions and preconceptions that inform (and distort) our interpretations of the world. In learning to mediate, we become acutely aware of this as we strive to help parties uncover a common understanding of their conflict through a sort-of “facilitated conversation”. To me, this is what’s beautiful about mediation, so of course I thought this conference was a great idea!

How was it like being a facilitator at the Conference?

Equal parts fun and tiring. Mostly because I live on the other end of the island, and we had to reach school before the kids to prepare for the day ahead. The conference itself was a really good experience. I was humbled by how quickly the students picked up the mediation skills taught to them. It was really heartening to see how much the students improved with each round of practice and feedback. By the final round, the students mediated as though they had way more mediation experience than the few short days of the conference! I was honestly pretty impressed, given that it took us law students a full semester to learn and practise these skills under Joel and Marcus.

What advice would you give to the facilitators of Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Have a positive outlook! Facilitation is not without its challenges. You’ll have to respond to different things each new day of the conference – so be observant, and be flexible! Be like water and make changes if you have to. Take time to mingle with the students and feel young in the process. Or old… I personally felt the latter. But yes, like I said, positive outlook!

 

13029433_840189422775033_8676372779817983041_o

Peace Talks – Jocelyn Koh

For the second segment of our interview series, “Peace Talks”, we are featuring a former facilitator, Jocelyn Koh (third from left):

Why did you choose to become a facilitator at the Peacemakers Conference?

I was first roped in by Aloysius and Sean in 2015 to help organise and facilitate the Conference. I returned again in 2016 to help Sean, who needed support as he did not have sufficient facilitators to help with the Conference. However, as much as I would love to continue helping out for this year’s Conference, I am unable to make it due to work commitments.

How was it like being a facilitator at the Conference?

To be honest, it was actually pretty tiring. As a facilitator, we had to engage with the students, facilitate the conference and judge mediation rounds. That being said, it was personally a very fulfilling experience for me to be able to play a part in educating youths on conflict resolution skills (and watching them grow throughout the conference), and also learning myself from the conference speakers in the course of the various conference sessions.

What advice would you give to the facilitators of Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Go in with an open mind – you would benefit and learn from the Conference in ways you’d never expect. And most importantly, have fun!

pmc17

Peacemakers Conference 2017 – Report

By Choong Jia Shun and Charmaine Yap

From 19 to 21 June 2017, the Peacemakers Conference returned for its eighth iteration. The purpose of the Conference is to teach 13-16 year olds how to resolve conflicts amicably in a workshop cum competition format.

This year, we were delighted to be joined by participants from six secondary schools: Chua Chu Kang Secondary School, Commonwealth Secondary School, Hougang Secondary School, Jurong West Secondary School, Raffles Girls School (Secondary), and Yishun Town Secondary School.

Learning and Understanding

Over the course of 3 days, Conference participants were introduced to basic mediation skills through a mixture of theory and practical sessions.

Topics covered include: the identification of interests and option generation, identifying and managing emotions, along with the very important skills of active listening and reframing. Participants were also exposed to simplified mediation processes, similar to those adopted by professional bodies such as the Singapore Mediation Centre and the Singapore International Mediation Institute.

After participating in the engaging lessons delivered by student trainers and professors from the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law, the participants had to quickly put these teachings into practice in four competition rounds.

Despite being thrown into the deep end, the participants continually impressed the guest judges, who frequently praised their abilities to internalise and put into practice what was learnt within such a short span of time.

Imagination

Participants also got to showcase their artistic flair in the Mediation Project Exercise. Tasked with conceptualising a visual metaphor for mediation, this was also an opportunity for participants to reflect on what they had learnt over two full days of training sessions and competition.

Initially introduced as a light-hearted bonding activity, this segment of the conference has yielded creative and thoughtful metaphors. Past analogies include “Mediation is like a Cactus” and “Mediation is like a Kaleidoscope”.

This year saw mediation analogised to hammers, magnets, and lighthouses amongst others. This year’s crop of metaphors was also especially literary. Particularly memorable were the metaphors that “Mediation is like Raging Towards a Dying Light while Fixing a Broken Vase in a Universe of Hope” and “Mediation is Medication for a War yet Fought”.

The winning metaphor analogised mediation to a bridge which brings two parties together. In their presentation of their design, the team demonstrated their mastery of key mediation concepts of neutrality, voluntariness, confidentiality, and a focus on interests instead of rights. This poignant metaphor crystallised key lessons that we had hoped to impart over the conference.

The Finals

After four gruelling rounds of competition, Jurong West Secondary School and Yishun Town Secondary School Team 3 emerged as the top-scoring teams. The final round of competition was held at the newly-renovated moot court of the NUS Law Faculty. We were honoured to have Mr Aloysius Goh, A/Prof Lum Kit-Wye, and Ms Sabiha Shiraz join us as judges in this final round of competition.

Mediators from the finalist teams were given the challenge of mediating a dramatic and emotionally-charged school conflict. Jurong West Secondary School was represented by Nur Farzana Syakirah bte Adam and Ashwini Thennarasu, and Yishun Town Secondary School Team 3 was represented by Vincent Su Meng Hang and Elumalai Rithika.

Set in the newly-renovated moot court of the NUS Law Faculty, the finalists had the added pressure of mediating in front of an audience of all the facilitators and participants of the conference. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both teams rose to the challenge, and put up remarkable performances that belied their youth, demonstrating maturity and a solid grasp of core mediation skills. Jurong West Secondary School emerged as the champion team after a long and difficult process of deliberation, having impressed the judges with their steady performance and knack for asking the right questions.

Five participants were also recognised for demonstrating great spirit in learning and growing as mediators. They are Mubasysyir Bin Kahar (Yishun Town Secondary School), Ng Yun Fei Aries (Commonwealth Secondary), Brendan Cheong Zhen Hao (Hougang Secondary), Cheri Teo (Raffles Girls School (Secondary)), and Teo Kai Xin (Chua Chu Kang Secondary School).

Appreciation

The organisers sincerely thank Mr Terence Ten, Mr Nanda Meenachi Sundram, and Ms Rozana, teacher coordinators from Yishun Town Secondary School, for hosting the Conference for the 4th year running. We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to A/Prof Joel Lee, A/Prof Lim Lei Theng, Mr Marcus Lim, and Mrs Chia Swee Tin for their invaluable guidance and feedback, and for being on hand during the Conference itself to provide pedagogical input as well as (much needed) encouragement and moral support.

Much thanks also goes out to the long-suffering student facilitator team led by Sean for their dedication to seeing the Conference from start to end.

Finally, we are incredibly grateful for the energy and enthusiasm shown by our participants. Over the course of the conference, you asked brilliant questions, were incredibly diligent, and very capably put all that you had learnt into practice. It has been such a joy to see how everyone grow in confidence and proficiency as mediators in such a short period of time. While watching you grow and learn, we have learnt much from all of you as well.

For many of us, this is just the beginning of our journey as peacemakers. We have full confidence that the lessons learnt will be shared with our peers, and hope to see everyone continuously hone our skills and grow as mediators.

Till Peacemakers Conference 2018, peace out!

For more pictures and videos of the Peacemakers Conference 2017, please visit the Peacemakers Facebook Page.

As Singapore’s leading peer mediation experts, Peacemakers has an extensive track record of managing and delivering conflict resolution training for youth at both local and international levels. If you would like to train your youth to better manage conflict, let us know how we can help via email at mediate@peacemakers.sg.

DSCF6195

Peace Talks – Denise Tay

Our third segment of “Peace Talks” features our former facilitator, Denise Tay (third from left):

Why did you choose to become a facilitator at the Peacemakers Conference?

I had taken the negotiation module with Joel earlier in the academic year, and when this opportunity came around, I thought it would be interesting to see how the skills could be translated and taught to be secondary school students as well. I mostly took photographs during the conference, so that gave me the birds-eye view of what was happening during the conference.

How was it like being a facilitator at the Conference?

It was eye-opening to see the wide applicability of mediation and how it can benefit any one at all. It was also interesting to see what others thought of mediation, especially through the group presentations. One of the analogies was mediation as a cactus!

How were the students at the Conference?

They did pick up the theories and skills related to mediation very quickly, and this was probably due to their willingness to learn throughout the conference.

What advice would you give to the facilitators of Peacemakers Conference 2017?

Have a fun and enriching time! I learnt a lot about what I knew, but even more about what I didn’t.

peacemakers_clear

Copyright 2018 © All Rights Reserved