The human tradition of mediation.

December 24, 2007

We’ve been surrounded by mediators since we were young:

When we fought with our siblings, are parents were the judges. 

When the other kids at school didn’t play fair, our teachers were the arbitrators.

When our relationships fall apart, our friends are the advisers. 

Where there is society, there is conflict, and where there is conflict, there have always been mediators, in one way or another.

It’s an age-old practice that’s existed as long as human beings have been communicating and as long as there has been communication, there has been misunderstanding. 

Today I was invited by my department to sit in on a real mediation session. I learned a lot from watching it all spread out in front of me, live:

  • It’s better for mediators to sit across from all disputants as opposed to at the head of the table.
  • Explain the process to participants and they will take the process on themselves.
  • Partner with a mediator of the opposite sex for family cases.
  • It’s important to know when to take a break and when to let the momentum roll.
  • Take culture into account, but don’t assume; just be open to culture being present.
  • Never underestimate the power of women around a negotiation table.

What I learned, more than anything today, is that it would be an honor to serve society as a mediator and continue this human tradition.  

A win for contact, for panels, for communication.

December 3, 2007

The panel discussion today on Internet media went really well (I think). It really gave a bunch of random people with similar interests a chance to chat about the importance of Internet, blogging and journalism with regards to all of our respective cultures and societies.

It was amazing – as it usually is – to meet people in person who I’ve had online relationships with, or a general online awareness of. People are constantly bagging each other online without meeting each other, and often what is considered hate speech is not really meant to be. How can you judge a person whose eyes you’ve never looked into?

I included my agenda below; that is how I broke down Mideast Youth for the panel.

Internet media: Strategies and Challenges Facing Internet News, Web and Blog Sites.

internet media panel

What is Mideast Youth?

  • Media Center:
    • Alternative news voice:
      • Realistic: news, culture and youth perspective represented. Youth + technology + the need for self-expression = amazing potential.
    • Multi media: There are more than one way to express yourself on the Internet. Mideast Youth includes –
      • Blogging
      • Podcasts
      • Video
      • Photo
      • Forums
  • Activism:
    • Petitions
    • Affiliate sites
    • The site itself serves as an example for tolerant conversation and the possibility for open-minded communication.
  • Conversation:
    • Often, the comments are more interesting than the posts themselves…
    • Challenge: Emotions are real and these are everyday topics for us.
    • Challenge: There’s a tendency for people to assume they need to be political all the time; this can be destructive in large doses.
  • Contact:
    • Contact theory/dialogue takes charge here. Arabs, Israelis, Iranians, Southeast Asians and more come together, for better or worse, to a public contribute to a conversation and make contact with various “Others”.
    • Exposure to people from all over:
      • Personally, I’ve read blogs I never would have come across. I chat with other members on i.m. and share and communicate one-on-one.
    • Challenge: Internet media is inherently not face-to-face, so there is still a level of distance.

Pleased to introduce Mideast Youth…

November 21, 2007

mideast youth logoIn some kind of sliver of spare time, I work with a few other administrators, writers, bloggers, and artists on a project called Mideast Youth. It’s a cyber-dialogue media center created two years ago to promote tolerance, understanding and most of all conversation between Mideast youth and other from around the world.

Today we were summed up in an article in WireTap Magazine, which came out really great. Take a look to learn more.