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!