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 Vera Tan from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School:
Q: How was your overall experience at the Peacemakers Conference 2018?
I actually learnt so much at last year’s Peacemakers Conference. One discovery would be understanding and exploring mediation. I have never heard of this term before and if it wasn’t for this Conference I bet I would not have known that this existed. I really enjoyed this Conference as I was able to experience what mediation looked like and how I could carry it out.
Q: What was the most unforgettable part of the Conference for you?
The most unforgettable part of the Conference would be when we simulated mediations. It is really etched in my memory as we could choose between being a mediator or the parties who needed help with solving the problem. I guess by being in the mediator’s seat, I experienced what it is like to be thinking on our feet and to be understanding to the parties. Many times I was faced with awkward silence as I did not know how to carry on to prompt the parties to be constructive in working towards solving their problem. Being in the party’s seat was as fun because you had to play the role out and sometimes it really required us to have those emotions. It was really a blast trying to make the problem as challenging as I could make it for the mediators and the other party.
Q: What is an example of you applying what you learned in the Conference in real life?
I have learnt to apply the skills I learnt from this Conference in many situations. One scenario would be in a group project. I used to ignore other people’s conflicts because I thought that I was incapable to solve them or try to help them come to a satisfactory conclusion. But now after learning this skill, I managed to put it into practice and try stepping in, to understand them and help them come to a fair conclusion. I would not say that my efforts alone helped them arrive at a fair conclusion, but I believe that I actually brought the tension down and allowed them to be more cooperative when working with each other.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to the incoming participants of the Peacemakers Conference 2019, what would you tell them?
Open your heart and mind, don’t be pessimistic about it. Just give your best and try not to be awkward around people. Be open to making new friends!
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