by Kiran Peter, Pakistan
The IPSI symposium started yesterday with Michael Shipler, the Asia Director at Search for Common Ground and Rajendra Mulmi, the Director of Programs at Search for Common Ground Nepal, facilitating various sessions on the topic ‘Facilitating a Dialogue Process’. The purpose of the sessions was to orient participants to Conflict Analysis, Consensus Building and Mediation skills.
The first session covered the importance of identities and how its manipulation could lead to various types of conflicts. We analyzed this topic after being split into three groups, following the different colored round circled dots on our foreheads. The rules of the game were then handed over to each of the participants. Those with red dots were asked to be avoided, and green to be only greeted by the blue-circled people. The people wearing a blue dot could speak to one another whenever they wanted; in fact the blue group was the most privileged.
This exercise made us realize how neglecting can create tension among people. Furthermore, the retaliation of an oppressed population could result into the formation of rebel groups. The process of dialogue, reconciliation and peace building was introduced to us through a heart touching story of an imam and priest in Nigeria. They reached a peace agreement in order to avoid further violence and bloodshed between the different communities, as it happened in 1992. They expressed their reunion by dancing together.
The participants shared different conflict prevention strategies to avoid conflict such as constant interaction and dialogue with adversaries. Forgiveness, fostering trust, and interpersonal relations are key to the prevention of conflicts. Similarly, mutual respect and collaboration also bring people together harmoniously.
I feel the Bologna Symposium is a wonderful place to strengthen conflict management skills and learn from one another.