By Jeremy Xiao on behalf of the Peacemakers Conference Organising Team
The Peacemakers Conference 2021 was the second-ever virtual Peacemakers Conference conducted through Zoom conferencing. From 22 to 24 June 2021, 13 to 16 year olds were taught peer mediation and conflict resolution skills through an engaging online workshop cum competition format.
This year was our largest conference to date, and it was our privilege to host over 330 participants from 23 different schools: Admiralty Secondary School, Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), Assumption English School, Bukit Batok Secondary School, Compassvale Secondary School, Dunearn Secondary School, Edgefield Secondary School, Evergreen Secondary School, Greendale Secondary School, HELP International School (Malaysia), Jurongville Secondary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Northland Secondary School, NPS International School, NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary), School of Science and Technology Singapore, School of the Arts, St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School, Swiss Cottage Secondary School, Victoria School, Whitley Secondary School, and Yishun Town Secondary School.
We are also extremely grateful to have had the support of our dedicated team of over 40 facilitators and more than 100 professional mediators who committed their precious time to make this Conference a success.
Teaching Principles, Process, and Practices of Peer Mediation
The Conference introduced participants to peer mediation as a form of amicable dispute resolution. Our lead trainers for this year, Ms Sabrina Chau, Mr Samuel Teo, and Ms Tay Hui Lyi taught a series of engaging lessons imparting the foundational principles and step-by-step process of mediation.
Participants learned the importance of upholding important values during the mediation process such as confidentiality and neutrality. They also learned how to distinguish between positions and interests, and how to generate options for possible solutions. On Days 2 and 3, participants were also taught how to manage emotions effectively and use active listening and reframing. We hope that they will go on to practise these skills in their daily lives, helping to resolve conflicts and promote peace.
Practising and Teaching Mediation Today
As learning moves online, our training team had to come up with innovative methods to engage the participants through Zoom conferencing. To ensure that participants had ample opportunities to put their new mediation skills into practice, we organised role play sessions on each day. Participants acted out roles in a hypothetical mediation, under the guidance of our experienced facilitators and coaches. These scenarios were based on real-world situations which students often encounter, such as disputes between classmates and friends. Following these sessions, our coaches provided insightful feedback and advice to help our participants better resolve similar conflicts in future.
In addition to the roleplays, the training team also designed interesting activities and games to reinforce learning points. Participants got the opportunity to compete in online quizzes, interest identification and reframing group exercises, a choose-your-own-adventure game, and witness “Oscar-worthy” acting in a fishbowl demonstration session. We were able to provide an engaging and fun learning experience for our participants, as well as many opportunities for them to interact with peers from other schools and make new friends.
As with previous Peacemakers Conferences, participants were invited to create their own visual metaphors to explain what mediation means to them. We received very creative and beautiful submissions from our teams, showcasing the camaraderie among the participants and their unique understandings of mediation.
There were two particularly noteworthy submissions this year. Firstly, the metaphor of how “Mediation is like a Salad”, since different elements and interests are tossed together to create a cohesive and delicious whole. Secondly, our winning metaphor for this year: “Mediation is like Penguins”. The penguins’ black and white signifies truth and neutrality, and their huddling together represents cooperation and peacemaking.
The organising team would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the people who made this year’s Peacemakers Conference possible.
Firstly, we would like to thank the Singapore International Mediation Institute, the Community Mediation Centre, Sage Mediation, Maxwell Chambers, the Asia Conflict Resolution Institute, the NUS Collaborative Dispute Resolution Club, Flavours of the East (F.EAST), foodpanda, Kingdom Food Group, and Lockdown Singapore for your generous support of the Conference, and for richly blessing our participants in various ways.
We would also like to thank our dedicated facilitators and coaches who volunteered their time to provide valuable guidance and feedback for our participants. Your contributions have certainly positively impacted these young lives, and left them with precious skills and memories to treasure for years to come.
Finally, thank you to all our participants for joining us at this year’s Peacemakers Conference. We thank you for your enthusiastic participation, openness in interacting with new peers, and your insightful questions and humorous comments. It has been such a joy interacting with all of you and seeing how quickly you have grown to put mediation into practice.
We hope the Conference has provided all of you with the first step as future Peacemakers in your schools, families, and communities. We urge you to continue practising these skills and transforming conflicts into opportunities wherever you may go. As one of our coaches said during the Conference: the future of Singapore’s mediation scene, and we might add, our youth, is certainly bright.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.