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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!

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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.

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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.

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