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

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