Community Mediation in New York. Member Spotlight: Andrew Haas
Who is Andrew Haas?
He is a father, a surfer, and a mediator. He first started his study in international relations then continue his graduate degree in peacebuilding and human rights education.
In the beginning, he start as a seven grade English teacher, for him teaching was an opportunity not to only engage with students or teach but more as a chance to shape his career choice towered conflict and mediation.
School, as Andrew see, is “a place for conflict”, hence being inside a classroom had helped him to look more deeply into the issues of conflict within this community, and as a result, he saw himself more interested in the issue of the conflict itself which drive him to the path of peace-building in his grade study in order to “facilitate peace through school”.
How did his work in mediation start?
Through his grad study, Andrew did not see himself “working internationally in somebody else’s backyard”. He believes that the party in the conflict need to focus on their conflict without the need of anyone else to come in and tell them what to do or how to resolve their conflicts and issues, in this context, he believes that “this is not my place”.
As a result, he shifts his interest from peace-building and human rights education and schools to focus more on mediation especially through community mediation centers in New York, especially in family issues and work-related issues.
Mediation is Verity
“I entered mediation thinking that is the way of being part of peace.” What makes Andrew’s view of mediation special is that he views it from a different personal perspective. For him, mediation is not a process of peacebuilding between individuals. Rather, it is a process through which individuals and conflict parties have opportunities to recognize each other, get closer to each other, share and hear each other’s stories and ideas, and help them recognize and restore their relationships in the first place. In contrast to many, he describes himself as “I do not see myself as a peace-maker”.
What matters to him as a mediator is for each party to understand the other’s thoughts, themselves and their differences in a profound way, and have opportunities to resolve their differences if they want to. What is important is not that you reach a final solution and agreement, but that the two parties see each other and communicate and communicate with each other, whether that is negatively or positively. In this context he sees that “peace is not always the best thing, two people make a resolution may not be good for them”, from his view people in some cases need to find that they cannot really communicate with each other, in order to help them move on and find a real solution and the real situation, he said that “it may be better if they do go to court”, what important for his is “they walk out feeling comfortable that they are doing the right thing”.
The most important thing as he sees is for people to understand each other in order to take the second step no matter what it is, hence Andrew sees his role as “provide an opportunity for them to step in to be that type of person that they want to be”.
How does he work?
Although many people want to reach a conclusion, the main point he works on is that he will not provide any solutions to individuals, but rather someone who will help them reach solutions on their own. In this context, he sees that “the power to direct the outcomes of the conflict in the parties hands”, hence, he will help them use this power to find the real solution themselves instead of waiting for anyone especially the mediator to do the job for them.
Many skills are needed in his work as a mediator, but the most important one is to get himself out of the conflict, sometimes he sees that “part of myself really wanted to make peace between the parties”, hence, the most important thing for his is to take himself out and focus on the people themselves and help them do what they need and want.
Community-level is his main interest
His work focuses mainly on mediation at the ground and community level in New York. In his beliefs, Andrew care more about the ground level, he “loves to feel in touch with his community”, he sees himself as more interested and passionate about the people around him and their lives, and therefore mediation at this level is a process of communicating with his surroundings and society, serving them and helping them at the same time.
What is mediation as he sees it?
Andrew sees mediation as a “privilege to be part of an important and vulnerable conversations between people”. In his opinion, it is an honor for him to be considered a part of the lives of private and often sensitive people, and therefore mediation here is a way for him to communicate with these individuals and help them during this sensitive time
Article by Yousra Hasona, MBBI Writer