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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6

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22/01/2009

"Sawubona"

Conflict Resolution Workshop, Georgetown, Washington DC, U.S.A. 2008

 

 

 

 "Sawubona" comes from Zulu and it's equivalent to the word "Hello". Its literal meaning is: "I see you". When two Zulu people meet they say to each other "Sawubona" and in addition to the meaning of the word "hello", they also mean; How are you, how are your wife and kids, How is your cattle, Did you shear the sheep, How is your corn growing and so on. In other words, when one says to the other "Sawubona", he is actually saying to him; I see you and I'm ready to speak to you. According to Dr. Charles Villa-Vicencio, one of the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" originators (South-Africa), reconciliation starts when two people sit under a tree and say to each other: "Sawubona".

At the end of October (29- 30.10.2008), PCFF members were invited for a three-day Conflict Resolution workshop at Georgetown University. The idea of the seminar came from President John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, who met Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad, when he was in Israel.
 For quite a while, we at the PCFF have felt a growing need for academic support which will accompany us on our way of reconciliation and dialog, and since Georgetown has a leading department in conflict resolution we were happy to accept President DeGioia's offer. The seminar assembled some of the brilliant minds in the field. The goal was to help the PCFF to become more professional. Between one worksop and the next,  we spoke to some of the university students and went for meetings to broaden our organization's connections.

An exhibit on the PCFF was displayed in one of the campus buildings inviting student to meet the PCFF through member's personal stories and pictures from different activities. Dr. Fathali Moghaddam, a psychologist who was selected as the best psychologist in the U.S.A, was born in Iran and is now the Director of the Masters of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University, led a panel with four PCFF members. The panel was about grief and reconciliation.
After the panel we were all invited to an impressive dinner with President DeGioia, faculty members and old friends of the PCFF such as Ronit Avni and Julia Becha from Just Vision.
In his opening speech President DeGioia quoted Georgetown's motto: "Ultraque Unum," which means "both into one" in Latin. The university's motto is also its guideline and president DeGioia sees in it the essence of partnership and reconciliation. Georgetown's Imam, Imam Hendi, read a lovely poem he wrote about the possibility for co-existence and peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Imam Hendi finished his speech with a prayer for people from all religions. 

                                 President DeGioia, Professor Menkel-Meadow,
D"r Moghaddam

What does one need to do in order to receive as many candies as possible in a game of arm wrestling, how to pass four straight lines through nine dots, how do you pass your whole body through a a single sheet of paper Sounds difficult?  A minute before we gave up we got the help of Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Professor of Dispute Resolution at Georgetown Law. In a fascinating workshop Professor Menkel-Meadow taught us about the use of creative thinking in conflict resolution and about working together in a negotiation to maximize joint gain. The Professor, who is the daughter of a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Germany and a Catholic German who came to the U.S.A. after the Second World War, spoke about how often we see the other as a rival who has to be won over, whereas the minute we see the other as a partner in finding a solution, the whole negotiation process and its outcomes change. The Professor spoke about the importance of asking questions while negotiating instead of assuming. The workshop was wisdom distilled in a nutshell, and left us all with a taste for more. Professor Menkel-Meadow was invited to lead a workshop for Knesset members (Israel's parliament) and is expected to come to Israel soon.

How to lead a high-impact nonprofit organization? Dr. Kathy Kretman, Director of the Center for Public and nonprofit Leadership in Georgetown, decided, despite her great experience in the field, to check our organization's needs. Dr. Kretman entered our website, read, checked and came up with a workshop that answered our needs. Dr. Kretman came to the workshop with a kit of professional material she prepared for us, and with two other lecturers: Professor Denise Keyes who spoke about strategic communications and Ms. Carma Fauntleroy who spoke about key fundraising success.

Storytelling is a proven and powerful tool in reconciliation. Storytelling is being used all around the world and is one of the PCFF main tools. Dr. Fathali Moghaddam and Ms. Naomi Lee, Doctorate candidate in Psychology, worked with us on our storytelling skills development and helped us through a personal journey.

Anyone who is in a conflict feels their conflict is unique, said Dr. Craig Zelizer. When one looks at other conflicts around the world one can find that with all the differences there are parallel lines between conflicts. Dr. Zelizer, who is Georgetown's Associate Director, Masters of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution, has a remarkable experience working with people from conflict areas .Dr. Zelizer spoke with us about dialog skills building. We found that the balance of power in conflicts influence what each side wants from the other and what each side brings into the shared dialog. Different models and techniques can help understand dialog processes. Dr. Zelizer's experience and ability to listen helped us bring to the session few problems we face on a daily basis in our communities.
 Dr. Zelizer had a significant part in building the seminar and helped us make new and relevant liaisons.

Halloween was about to begin, so President DeGioia opened the early afternoon session with closing remarks. Photos were taken and we went to our final workshop with Dr. Charles Villa-Vicencio.
"Sawubona", Remember? 

All of us who are in the field of conflict resolution hear about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was held in South Africa. This commission constituted a breakthrough in the way of reconciliation and was living evidence of the enormous power of storytelling.  Up to meeting Dr. Villa-Vicencio, the South African Commission was vague in my mind, no matter how much I read about it. In Georgetown we all had the honor and the great opportunity to hear one of the people who lead the commission. Dr. Charles Villa-Vicencio recently retired as the head of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, and was the Director of Research at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dr. Villa-Vicencio said he would never agree to take this job again and yet he would never have given it up. In a fascinating lecture, we heard how you begin to heal an injured nation through storytelling and the evidence of victims and perpetrators. At the end of the Commission, one of the reporters asked Dr. Villa-Vicencio if he had succeeded in putting the whole nation through reconciliation, Dr. Villa-Vicencio answered; no, but we started a process.

Closing words were said by Dr. Moghaddam and then we all shared our thoughts in a Round Table with faculty members. PCFF members left the three days workshop with new energy and professional knowledge, feeling that as small as we are in Palestine and Israel, we got significant recognition and support in our way.
We spent our last evening at Georgetown at Jessica Raper and Brian Kirtz's house having dessert and handing out candies for Trick-or-Treaters.

PCFF thank the following people:
 President John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
 Dr. Bernie Cook, Associate Dean, Georgetown College
 Ms. Carma Fauntleroy, Senior Director of Foundation Relations, Office of Advancement
 Mr. Frederic St. Johnston
 Professor Denise Keyes, Associate Dean, PR & Corporate Communications, School of Continuing Studies
 Dr. Kathy Kretman, Director, Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership
 Mr. Brian Kritz, Adjunct Lecturer, Government Department
 Ms. Naomi Lee, Doctorate candidate, Department of Psychology
 Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow, A.B. Chettle, Jr. Professor of Dispute Resolution, Georgetown Law
 Dr. Fathali Moghaddam, Director, Masters of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution
 Ms. Jessica Raper, Special Assistant for Policy Planning, Office of the President
 Dr. Charles Villa-Vicencio, Visiting Professor, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
 Dr. Craig Zelizer, Associate Director, Masters of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution

We cannot end without thanking Chiaki Ota and Aubrey Guthrie who worked days and nights and helped us with everything.
We thank Robi Damelin who worked hard on the seminar and all those who contributed to the workshop's success.

The workshop was funded by the President's Office at Georgetown. The PCFF thanks the President and his Office, who made it all possible.

Sharon Kalimi Misheiker
November 2008


Nir Oren and Mazen Faraj with D"r Moghaddam

Anat Marnin Shacham and Robi Damelin


Shireen essawi and Sharon Kalimi Misheiker with Naomi Lee

Aubrey Guthrie and Aesha Aktam

 

 







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