“Faces Of Conflicts”
A training in conflict resolution for young people from conflict and post-conflict areas
european-mediterranean youth bridge e.V. (www.emyb.org)
26 young people (17-23 years) from Bosnia, Cyprus, Israel & Palestine (PAT), Germany, Greece, Netherlands and Turkey
The aim of the project “Faces of Conflict” is to develop an innovative approach to peace building for young people to strengthen post-conflict and conflict societies. The project will bring young people from at least three different conflict regions together and work on a theoretical and practical level about how to deal with conflicts in a constructive way.
The focus of the project is on the individual psychological process that the participants will encounter when meeting with young people from their “opposing” group, having the chance to make their voice heard by them and to scrutinize their own construction of identity in the process of their conflict.
Throughout the seminar, the participants will get down to the more subtle causes that are underlying the conflicts they experience in their countries. This broadened horizon of understanding and knowledge will be the basis for working on possible conflict resolution strategies. The focus hereby will be set on how individual people can contribute to more peace in their societies.
The whole seminar will be divided into the following three parts:
1. Make your voice heard - Individual experiences are shared, establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect which will be the basis for understanding and further cooperation-
2. Find a solution - Ways to conflict resolution
3. Build a future - How to make the experience sustainable
The first part of the seminar will create an environment of trust and mutual respect and aims at giving all participants the chance to make heard how they personally experience the conflict they are involved in. By telling and being listened to, their individual suffering will be acknowledged. In a second step, the participants are asked to turn their attention to more theoretical issues like general patterns of conflict and possible strategies of conflict resolution. This background information and input is aims at enabling to the participants to develop new ways of resolving their conflicts. The third part will support the participants in developing ideas and strategies of how to transform and apply the insights they gained at the seminar to a contribution towards a more constructive resolution of the conflict once they are back in their home communities and to find a possibility to transform their experiences from this project into their normal lives when they return back home.
In the first phase of the seminar, the participants from the same country will get together and prepare a short introduction to the history and development of the conflict in their home country, and present it to the rest of the group. In addition to the research each participant has done in preparing themselves for the seminar, this session will provide everybody with refined overviews of the course of the respective conflicts and introduce them to an insider`s perception of what is at the core of the conflict they are involved.
In the next step the participants from the conflict regions are divided into multinational groups to work on a conflict they are personally not involved in. A possible scenario could be that a group of Palestinians and Cypriots will work together on the Bosnians conflict, while a group of Bosnian and Turkish youth will deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This approach will enable the participants to get a deeper insight into the dynamics of a conflict with the advantage of retaining a psychologically more neutral perspective, as well as to cooperate and exchange ideas on a relevant issue with young people from a different background.
The phase of intensive group work will be followed by the presentation of the groups` respective results in a plenary session, i.e. their new insights, feelings, questions regarding the conflict they worked on as well as their ideas for possible steps for a resolution of the conflict. In this way, the participants from the conflict regions will discover parallels and similarities as well as get to know outside perspectives on the conflict they are personally involved in. The group will then openly discuss the results and extract the new insights and ideas they gained in the process. The last part of the seminar will focus on developing ideas on how each individual participant can contribute to more peace in his or her local community in practical terms. Complemented by examples of civil conflict resolution initiatives in other parts of the world, concepts and ideas of individual participants will be collected and exchanged within the group. In addition to developing small projects for the future, there will be time for the participants to look back to their knowledge and attitudes at the beginning of the seminar and to see whether they have gained new perspectives and a more profound knowledge of the dynamics and possible ways of resolving conflicts in general and the conflict in their respective home country in particular.
This last section will also be used to complete a diary-like handbook written by the participants during the seminat to reflect on their personal process during the ten days. Parts of this, with the permission of the participants will be printed after the seminar to make the process of the seminar visible to the public.
After the return to their home country the local partner organisations and emyb will provide assistance and advice for the participants in order to support them in realizing follow-up initiatives in their local communities.
The objective of the project is to facilitate both a sincere and open discussion of the challenges the participants face in their conflict situations as well as an exchange of ideas about possible solutions to the conflicts. The seminar will encourage the participants to take an active and responsible role in their home country`s political and social issues. The innovative idea of the project is to work on possible conflict resolutions of present-day conflicts in multinational teams composed of participants without personal relations / involvement regarding the specific conflict situation. The project will promote peaceful methods of conflict resolution by allowing young people to broaden their knowledge and perspectives on the dynamics of and possible resolutions to conflicts both general and with regard to the conflict in their home country by working on conflicts they are emotionally not involved in. A crucial part of the learning experience will be the interaction and exchange among the young people from different backgrounds about possible ways of understanding, interpreting and resolving conflicts.
Rather than studying the political dimensions of the conflicts, which are often solely foregrounded in the discussion of existing conflicts, the method of the seminar will allow to focus on the participants` individual experiences of the conflicts they are involved in as a point for intervention. By learning about conflicts and conflict resolution, the participants will be encouraged to get active in their local communities and put the things learned into practical enhancements of the situation in their local surrounding (i.e. schools, universities, working places). This will be true for the young people from conflict areas as also for the young people from the Netherlands and Germany who will have the possibility to facilitate and mediate between the conflicting groups and also learn more about the situation in countries of the so-called South.
Throughout the whole seminar, the theoretical input given by the group facilitators and external resource persons will alternate with participatory methods such as consciousness-raising games, role plays and group discussions. The focus of the interactive sessions will be on enhancing team work and cooperation as well as to replace prejudices and selective perceptions among the members of the conflict parties with a more balanced and realistic notion of the other. In the multinational teams who will be working on one of the three conflicts from an outside perspective, the participants will be confronted with different perceptions and interpretations of the respective conflict, which will heighten their understanding and awareness of conflict patterns in a constructive way.
In addition to a reader which will provide the participants with background information on the historical development of the respective conflicts and which will be sent to them several weeks before the seminar begins, external resource persons will provide insights into the dynamic of conflicts and possible ways of conflict resolution through lectures and sessions in working groups.
A crucial part will be the informal intercultural exchange in the evenings, when the participants will be encouraged to introduce other participants to the culture of their home country, including literature, music, dance, etc. emyb and the local partner organisations will closely follow up the development of the participants after their return to their home country
The seminar is designed for young people between 17 to 23 years of age. Both students and young professionals who are committed to peaceful conflict resolution and interested in intercultural communication are welcome. Participants need to be willing to learn about current conflicts in the world. The main part of the seminar will be to work in multinational teams.
26 participants from eight countries (these are countries that have an historical or political connection to the conflicts we will work on) will work in multinational teams and focus on the Israeli-Palestinian, the Cyprus, and the Serb-Bosnian conflict respectively.
Including the days of arrival and departure, the seminar will comprise ten days.
Qualification of emyb for this project:
The team facilitating this seminar consists of trainers ranging from studied trainers in conflict resolution and third party mediation (psychologists, educationalists) over to youth workers to regional experts (Islamologists, political scientists). Most of them have practical working experience in the involved conflict areas and have appropriate language skills. They bring a broad variety of qualifications in development work with young people.
emyb itself has worked in this field for some time, planning, running and evaluating projects which were financed by public funds from the European Comission or development agencys such as Cordaid.