I have been back in Berlin for almost 2 weeks. I went home for 2 weeks in March. This was actually a break between semesters rather than a spring break. So, last week I started my 2nd semester and have a very busy schedule. It was so nice to be home and relax and see all the wonderful people that fill Columbus. It’s so nice to remember there is such a warm and welcoming place to always visit!
Last week I was in a very interesting week long seminar/lab called ‘Conflict Mediation.’ This was probably one of my most helpful classes to date. Last semester was full of theory and reading, but very little implementation or practice. During the week we studied mediation, which is an alternative method to constructive conflict resolution. The Mediator is a neutral party that assists the involved parties with resolving the conflict and coming to an agreement. We did lots of role playing and learned each step of the process. It can be very simialr therapy. But, therapy tends to to focus on your entire personal history, mediation focuses on the conflict at hand. Conflicts such as child custody, culture differences, managerial issues…basically any type of interpersonal communication issue. Of course mediation can be done for large groups for political reasons but this takes many involved parties and can take much longer.
I really liked learning about this because it helped me realize what I could maybe do with my degree. We also talked a lot about Cultural understanding. The lab was very productive because the professors were very engaging. It was fun to come back to such an educational lab. It was also a nice time for self reflection to understand my own type of dealing with conflict. Everyone has their own way and it is important to know your own reactions before going into a mediation setting…or just for everyday life. It can also be helpful to try to understand the conflict reactions of those close to you in order to be able to react appropriately. It’s a bit like the personality test. (beware – I don’t recommend mediating your own conflicts haha – you’ll only drive the other person nuts). I’ll attach a few photos here that outline some of the interesting things we discussed.
The other very interesting thing that happened this past weekend was a Neo-Nazi protest and counter protest outside of my school. We were in class this day so we could witness the event. Although the protest was less than 100 people, there is tons of security because of the small potential of an outbreak. My school is in the far East of Berlin and this was originally the Soviet side of the Wall. There is still clear evidence of the economic struggle this side has compared to the West. The protest was focused around the issue of refugees and the need to stop the open door policy that Germany has. Many individuals of the Neo-Nazi party still believe a variety of culture in Germany is bad and that the current government (Merkel). Now of course with all extreme right thinking parties… there is often a lack of consciousness about the real issues, no considerations for human need etc…sounds a bit like Trump. Ok, I’m not looking to talk politics here, but it was interesting.
What I found more disheartening was the actions of the counter protesters – those against the Nazis. I realize there is a strong sense of dislike towards the Nazi party, but many of the counter protesters also partook in yelling and unnecessary chanting. Many of these people coming from my Uni (a Social Work focused school). How can we cure hate, while throwing more hate? I understand many of the extremists are probably not easy to reason with, but where will get by yelling and screaming? In general it was quite fascinating – I’ll attach a few photos for you to get a better a understanding. The big open space is where the police roam. Behind me and also across the street were the counter protesters.
Overall, a pretty good first week back! I had a friend come visit who I worked at summer camp with – she’s from Ireland. So, we played tourist and went on a river cruise and hit up some of the main sights. Also, there was a festival in Alexanderplatz for Easter. Although it looked just like Octoberfest – lots of food and beer. I think it was just another excuse to drink haha.