Claudia Sanchez was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She studied modern languages focused on corporate communication and pursued her graduate studies in Argentina in institutional communication. Claudia has travelled to Chile, Brazil, the United States, and Canada through diverse opportunities, centered on learning about communication across cultures and mediation. She returned to Colombia in 2019 to contribute towards building a culture of peace through nonviolent communication through teaching. In her travels, she learned about Mediators Beyond Borders International. 

She said, “I was in Canada, and one of the workers at a community garden shared with her about the work MBBI was doing at the time.” Learning about the philosophy of MBBI, where at the center they foster mediation across the world, she knew that this was an organization she wanted to join. She stated, “I wanted to have more tools to help mediate conflicts or situations where people are confused or agitated. I liked that MBBI had projects in Colombia and the training they had developed.”

Mediation in an Educational Environment

Throughout her career, Claudia has been responsible for many projects in the field of education and mediation. However, when the pandemic occurred, she got involved with a project in a school near Bogota, where senior students, their parents, and teachers learn about their emotions and needs. They offered tools to identify ways they could refocus when facing reactive emotions. This project provided all members with the opportunity to enhance their communication skills to communicate better with their families, friends, colleagues. She said, “it was a safe space to express and learn how to listen with respect, acknowledging, empathy.” In November, they had to close down the project, but she expressed feeling touched by the student testimonies and how some could express themselves with more assertiveness and calmness.  

The content that was taught to students was reflective in their actions. She stated, “I was happy to see how students strived to listen to others.” She also witnessed parents effectively communicating with their children and their respective teachers, especially when handling challenging situations. At the end of the year, two kids were granted a scholarship to continue their university studies. Thus, the project had a profound impact on their lives. Claudia expressed a desire to continue cultivating uplifting voices and mentoring others. Mediation skills are at the center of the tools provided to children, teachers, and parents. 

Striving for Balance 

However, Claudia reflected on the effects of the pandemic. She stated, “With the pandemic, it has been hard to balance. Last year out of exhaustion, I started to find balance. Now I try to not work on the weekends and keep one day offline.” She moved into a small town near Bogotá to get rest and cultivate a greater sense of self. This, in turn, enhanced her mediation mindset altogether. 

Through her mediation mindset has significantly benefited, her approach has not changed. She stated, “I have a humanistic approach based on my congruence and authenticity as a facilitator. My willingness to understand people’s needs and to try to leave aside my own bias and judgments are my strengths.” Thus, bringing in a “door of compassion” into the lives of others.  

Mediation Program in Colombia

Claudia’s long-term goal as a mediator is to start a mediation program in Colombia. She is open to partnerships on fostering a network of professionals passionate about education and mediation. She hopes to collaborate with such professionals to create a curriculum. She stated, “I also want to add nonviolent communication as a key tool for mediators and need resources for this larger goal.” If you are interested in learning more about the work of Claudia, please reference her website.

Article by Elizabeth Gamarra, MBBI Writer