“The truth is, you can’t simply embrace uncertainty, embrace the fears, they will still be there along the way with you. But you know, cowards never have made history and have never changed things! So you have to keep moving forward. You have to keep working, connecting, and trusting that things will organize themselves and work out if you put your heart into it.”
Constanza is a Project Manager and a Conflict Mediator, originally from Argentina, currently based in Turin, Italy. In her activities, she likes to promote synergy and she is passionate about languages and cultural exchange. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Universidad Catolica de Cordoba, Constanza decided to explore the world and spent one year in Australia to improve her English. Later, she traveled a little bit and ended up in the town of Dharamshala in northern India. There she met some Tibetan refugees and heard their stories about their conflict with China. The way they were approaching the conflict, from a compassionate point of view and a very human perspective, made her wonder about new perspectives and new ways of dealing with problems and conflicts. “I started reviewing myself, from what point of view should I manage things? How could I embrace this perspective to respond rather than react to different situations?” Constanza says “Something over there caught me and I came back home moved, a little different somehow. I found the mediation training. I jumped in and I loved it.” The training provided her with a lot of information on non-violent communication, conflict resolution tools, techniques of active listening, and new lenses to look at things. From there on, a lot of things had the potential to change in the base of understanding and empathy.
After finishing the training, she wanted to start her career right away, but in the meantime, she became a professor assistant at her University in International Law and also Mediation and Political Negotiation. As soon as she received a green light from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, she passed the examination and officially started her mediation practice along with other incredible people dedicated to the same purpose. Later on, she was contacted by the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries and Components of Cordoba and she was invited to work on the development and facilitation of associative groups and clusters to promote common objectives between the participant parties. For the next couple of years, Constanza was balancing between those two roles based on cooperation approaches. However, this experience as a project manager at the end was different than mediation, because at some point someone needed to make the decisions and push the participants to move forward to achieving the expected results.
Broadening up the horizon
Constanza, still curious and with a lot of willingness to learn, decided to continue her education in the field of conflict resolution. She was accepted in the University of Haifa in Israel, to pursue a Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Management, and she was awarded with a scholarship. Unfortunately, this achievement came with some obstacles, because the pandemic disrupted all her plans too. The only possible way to do it was to start the program online. “I had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to connect with my classmates who were already in Israel. It started like this because the Argentinian airports were closed at the beginning and when they opened, the airports in Israel closed again. So it took me a lot to arrive there”, Constanza says. She managed to arrive for the last 6 months to complete the program, and got an internship opportunity with a local feminist organization Isha L’Isha in the project: “The Tribunal for Gender Crimes”. As Constanza explains, it was an amazing opportunity that allowed her to look at the lack of justice that women and gender minorities are facing in the regular system of justice, and to prepare proposals with alternative paths according to their needs. The Tribunal created opportunities for the victims to be listened to and supported in a safe space. She is very passionate about the project and thinks it could be replicated in other places around the world, mainly for the basis of asking survivors what they need.
While searching for an internship in Israel, Constanza got connected also to Rotary International, and through rotarians who learned about her mediation background, she was recommended to join Mediators Beyond Borders International. As she says, since opening the website, she knew it was the right call to join the organization. Constanza is still trying to find a place for herself, but she has already gotten involved in the activities of several working groups: MBB Europe, Women in Mediation Action Group, and United Nations Multilateral Working Group. She is interested in the potential of the network of people wanting to improve the world, hoping to get more involved, and one day see a South American working group, to promote mediation and peacebuilding processes in her region.
After completing the program Constanza came back to Argentina and got involved in a program offered to prisoners and penitentiary personnel, to work with them on human rights, non-violent communication, and restorative justice practices that are still very rare in Argentina. At the same time, she continued to search for opportunities abroad. “I thought to myself, this is a moment for having an international experience because maybe I won’t be able to do it later on. I have no attachments and I had the opportunity that my grandfather was Italian, so I decided to move to Italy and to try something new. I gathered the documents I needed, and applied for citizenship” she says. Through that process, however, Constanza learned that this opportunity she could take, was very different for other immigrants and job seekers, even those who were born in Italy. A lot of job offers say that they do not discriminate based on gender or religion, but the “right to live” and work in the country is required. In Italy, Constanza cooperates with Generazione Ponte, an organization that supports immigrants and new generations of Italians to be active participants and citizens in the community. “In Italy rules the -right of blood-. This means that if your parents or even more generations above had the blood you can request it, but if you don’t, you may apply for citizenship, but even if you were born here, and speak the language fluently, it will take you 10 or 12 years to get it. This is a little paradigmatic because at some point people must have been born in this very soil to be acknowledged as citizens, and to have that blood. And in the development of national states, borders, and people have changed a lot. This is the tricky thing about identity, how do we define it and how do we feel part or not of a certain society” she says. There are a lot of people in the gray zone, which prevents them from applying for a job, voting, or actually exploiting the full potential of having a normal life.
Always Keep On Moving
Due to the recent pandemic, many people suffered losses and had to readapt to a different lifestyle. Constanza was one of those who had to change her plans many times. When asked about a piece of advice she would give to herself from the past, she said: “I would say to myself that fears and uncertainty are normal. This is funny because I hate uncertainty. I rather feel that I am in control, but deeply I also know this is an illusion. In the end, you can’t simply embrace uncertainty, embrace the fears, they will still be there along the way with you. But you know, cowards have never made history or changed things, never ever! So you have to keep moving forward. You have to keep working, connecting, and trusting that things will organize themselves and work out if you put your heart into it.”
Recently Constanza started a podcast called Sinergia (Synergy). The idea behind it is to connect people, projects, ideas, and everyone trying to improve something and make a positive change in their society or even in the world. She notes that the media are very often focused on negative things, showing too much violence, conflict, and things that are frustrating and make us feel sad and powerless. It is very little at times that people share things that really inspire and motivate others. So this is what she aims to change, even though the podcast is completely new to her, it is kind of a pilot test, she is giving it a shot and keeps moving forward.
Article by Maciej Witek, MBBI Writer