by Hamdi Aden, Somalia

Day three of the Summit focused on facilitation training run by representatives from Search for Common Ground Nepal. From the initial outset the facilitators asked us to identify our experience with  facilitation and it was fantastic to note the variety of experience present, which suggested that not only would we learn from the facilitators but also from each other.

The focus of the day was on designing and running a dialogue process. In getting us to know the ‘facilitator self’, the facilitators put us through a range of exercises and videos which helped to identify and discuss the roles identity, perceptions and positions play in the dialogue process. In the first exercise, which addressed identities, participants reflected on the way ‘suppressing identities is at the core of conflict’, this was a particularly personal experience, as we were asked to open ourselves to others telling us what they guessed might be important identities for us. I think it was important that we were asked to approach this exercise with a default position of forgiveness.

Other exercises focused more on perceptions and positions. For instance, the two faces of the old-young lady image was really important in discussing the way two parties could look at the same situation and see two completely different things, and the need to help them to see what the other sees so a common ground could be reached. Having come to understand the way the environment informs perception, we proceed to the case study on the proposed Cordoba community centre and mosque in New York. The particular significance of the proposed site was that it is about two blocks from Ground Zero. The implications of this fact and the subsequent way the issue has been framed has meant that out of 50+ participants in the case study, only three were able to say they held a neutral position. It continues today and should be a really interesting experience to see to what extent we can keep our own biases at the door and attempt to see a holistic picture of the situation.