Thursday, September 18, 2008

Greetings, Friends,

Its great to be home in Albuquerque! We've been busy planning some events and activities to share NVC here, as well as Orange County, CA, Durango, CO, and Atlanta.

I stumbled across this inspiring article today from Dallas about peer mediation. I hope you are inspired as well.



Nellsyn Elizabeth Hill of Lewisville: Resolving conflict

06:13 AM CDT on Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just before school let out in June, I was selected by the teachers and administrators at my high school to be one of the 20 participants in a summer workshop for Peer Mediation, a program dedicated to nonviolent conflict resolution. I had no idea what an important message this program had to offer not only to students, but also to teachers and families in our area.

Something we must all recognize first is that life is constantly changing. But with change comes conflict. A change in activities can lead to time-management conflicts. A change in location can lead to communication conflicts. A change in values can lead to relationship conflicts.

We cannot avoid change – or conflict.

However, Peer Mediation (or Mustang Mediation, M&Ms, at my high school) is the difference between poisonous, corrosive grudges that may breed from conflict, and healthy, productive peacemaking. It is based on the idea that "what we do not talk out, we act out." The focus is to have students help other students work out their dilemmas in a stress-free and completely confidential environment before problems become uncontrollable or hostile.

It starts by encouraging friends involved in conflict to turn in a form requesting mediation. Then they meet with two peer mediators during school to form some sort of agreement.

I believe this group is so important and beneficial because it can be applied to all areas of life: school, home, work, etc. Buddha said, "Mediation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back and choose the path that leads to wisdom."

Through mediation, we are able to grow as a group and as individuals by opening our minds and learning the truth about our peers' feelings and how others respond to their environment. Proverbs 18:2 says, "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions."

Another thing that Peer Mediation requires besides patience and willingness to listen is some shape of compromise. Let's face it, you can talk to someone who has hurt you about a problem you have and how you feel about it until you're blue in the face and never reach a resolution.

Lynn Johnston, author of the comic strip "For Better or For Worse," once said, "An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything." And the resolutions the disputants develop in Peer Mediation can be as simple as an apology and clearing up all misconceptions – or as serious as promising to restore lost or damaged valuables.

My hope – the hope of my fellow M&Ms and our sponsors – is to raise awareness about this type of on-campus problem-solving and to promote its growth in surrounding school districts. We are working to create a safer, more comfortable learning environment to help stop the fights and hurt feelings that cloud people's perception of high school.

And by spreading this program to other high schools and even middle schools, we can grow more patient, perceptive and emotionally stable members of society.

Nellsyn Elizabeth Hill of Lewisville is a senior at Carrollton Creekview High School and a Student Voices volunteer columnist. To respond to this column, send an e-mail to

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Greetings, friends,

I've been busy focusing on fun and connection in Maui with a parade of friends and family. Now we are in our waning days, returning to Albuquerque on Tuesday.

I received this from a colleague today and publish it here to inspire you about what is possible to create in the equation, nonviolence + creativity = ?



Dear Friends,

Sending you all my best thoughts from Palestine. I wanted to let you all know that Gunnar and I just spent 2 weeks visiting our dear friend Nafez in Hebron. We had decided, after our NVC Special Session training in February, to come here this summer and document Library On Wheels for Nonviolence and Peace, an organization that Nafez founded in 1986.
It has been a wonderful and moving experience to be here, to visit with Nafez and his beautiful family, to learn about Hebron and its' two cities, to observe and film the work of the LOWNP, its' staff and volunteers, to follow the children's summer program and to partake in different campaigns the organization is promoting:

-a "Chess campaign" in refugee camps and villages to raise awareness about the violence used by families and clans in sorting out their differences and to teach people alternative strategies as in a chess game.

-an "Eat and Drink Locally" campaign to raise the awareness of how Palestinians are fueling the economy of their occupier when they buy Israeli products rather than supporting the Palestinian economy .

- a "Reading at the Checkpoints" campaign to support regular people who are trying to get to their destinations and are often being stopped, searched and humiliated at the checkpoints. Books on topics such as nonviolence, science, history, religion, etc are provided by the taxi companies (courtesy of LOWNP) to travelers to empower them to use this time for their benefit and general culture, to help them cope with their own feelings of anger and violence towards their occupiers (soldiers and settlers at checkpoints).

My understanding of LOWNP's strategies is to inspire people here living in extremely violent conditions at times to empower themselves and to take control of their lives in nonviolent ways (these campaigns are seeds sown), to train young adults to be nonviolent leaders in their communities and to inspire, educate and train children about nonviolence and peace and how to be active members of their family and school environments.

I am very moved and inspired by the children, their interest and committment to understanding and learning nonviolence, by their sense of integrity and their desire to communicate with us and I loved the way they let us enter into their daily worlds.

I am now spending 1 month in Bethlehem teaching students English and studying Arabic myself. My approach to teaching English has been to focus on what communication is and to also share some of what I have learned in my NVC trainings and readings. Great fun!
After this I will return to Switzerland with all the footage taken in Hebron and create a short film, in sh'allah, as they say here.

Best regards,