The New York Regional Group of Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI-NY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College recently partnered to offer a free introductory course on the basic principles and techniques of mediation to members of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA).
The Introduction to Basic Mediation Training course was created thanks in large part to the initiative of Rev. Philip Blamo, Eastern Regional Vice President of ULAA, who reached out to MBBI to inquire about organizing a mediation training for ULAA leaders. MBBI-NY members met with Rev. Blamo and Tanya Hudson Blamo in order to better understand the interests and aspirations of the Liberian diaspora community and to see how mediation training could best address their specific goals. These discussions culminated in a five-day training session that was held on Saturdays in June and July at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Topics covered in the training included the history of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and mediation, different mediation styles and approaches, typical stages of mediation, and listening and communication skills. Participants had the opportunity to observe and to speak with mediation practitioners about real-world best practices.
Every session also included interactive role-playing exercises where participants could test out their newly-learned techniques in a safe and supportive environment and reflect together on how these tools could be used to promote understanding in personal, professional and cultural conflicts.
Throughout the course, ULAA participants were enthusiastic and engaged, challenging trainers and each other with tough and insightful questions about the role of mediation in complicated disputes with entrenched parties.
At the conclusion of the five-day training, each participant received a certificate of completion and had the chance to give feedback on the experience. The participants’ impression of the training was overwhelming positive. Many mentioned how much they appreciated the opportunity to learn new mediation skills and that they planned to further their mediation training and development so that they could put this knowledge to use within their communities in the United States and abroad towards peacebuilding efforts in Liberia.
On July 30, 2016, at an event celebrating Liberia’s 129th anniversary of independence, the Liberian Community Organization of New York (a member organization of ULAA) awarded the MBBI-NY – CUNY team with the 2016 Peace & Mediation Award in recognition of the success of the training course. MBBI-NY is excited to deepen and develop this collaborative relationship with ULAA and looks forward to future engagement with the organization around mediation and peacebuilding.
In addition to Maria Volpe, Director of the CUNY Dispute Resolution Center, co-trainers included Patricia Araujo, Niki Borofsky, Karolina Galecki, Alan Gross and Brad Roth. Special thanks to Charlie Pillsbury for his assistance.
Since its founding in 2011, Mediators Beyond Borders International – New York (MBBI-NY) has hosted speakers, sponsored discussion groups, attended United Nations (UN) and Rotary meetings, publicized MBBI at local mediation events, and most recently, provided free mediation training to members of the local Liberian diaspora community. MBBI-NY meets monthly at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City to discuss MBBI-related topics and connect interested attendees to MBBI’s international and local projects. Mediators, lawyers, students and others with an interest in MBBI’s mission and activities are welcome to attend these meetings, which are free and open to the general public, with no membership requirement.
For information on attending an MBBI-NY meeting or providing your diaspora organization with mediation training, contact Brad Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.