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Mediators Begin Training Process

By Sandhya R. Rao

The Harvard Mediation Service held its first training sessions this weekend for the 29 tutors, students and professors selected to act as the University's first line of defense against racial disputes.

Eight teachers led the Mediation Service participants in mediation simulations, case studies and games intended to teach them to look at situations from different to look at situations from different perspectives. The new service will provide mediators on request to adjudicate conflicts between organizations and individuals.

"[The training] was geared towards thinking about how we view ourselves and how others view us," said first-year proctor Rami Armon, a Mediation Service participant. "There may be a big difference [in how others view you]."

The participants met for three hours on Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.

The Mediation Service emerged out of The Negotiations Project, a study of race relations at Harvard completed last year by the office of Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

The service has been allotted $25,000 for study materials and instruction for the two weekend training sessions, and follow-up coaching after the sessions, Epps said.

Members of the service agreed that the training session, taught by members of Conflict Management Group, Conflict Management Inc., and The Negotiations Project, showed them a new way of understanding conflict situations.

"It made me evaluate how you communicate with people," participant Jonathan K. Waldrop '97 said. "You've always been taught to be persuasive and debate. [The training] tried to teach [us] to listen and understand before attacking an issue."

One of participants' favorite activities was a game in which three groups, each divided into a red team and a blue team, collaborated to from a tower of Legos.

The red and blue halves of each group were allocated different resources and expected to use each others materials cooperatively.

Sarah S. Song '96 said her group found a way to compromise and build the tower.

"We lost but we worked really well," Song said."We were going to be a dictatorship, but when westarted interacting, we felt sympathy for the redteam, and we made all these concessions."

Not all the future peacemakers were sosuccessful, however: Robert J. Fuller '97 says histeam built to tower at all.

"We couldn't come to a solution," Fuller said."We didn't produce anything. At one point someonecame to steal one of our blocks and we tried toknock down their blocks."

Trainees also played a game in which they hadto count the number of times the letter "F"appeared in a sentence. Most people miscounted,Armon said.

"The point of that was to realize that if youcan't do that simple task correctly." Armon said."When you are retelling a story, how certain canyou be are describing it in a correct way?"

Students enjoyed the activities and simulationsperformed this weekend and are enthusiastic aboutthe next session scheduled for April.

"I learned more from [this weekend] than manymore of my courses at Harvard," So said. "I'mlooking forward to the next session."

"We got inundated with a whole bunch of [ideas]this weekend," James N. Miller '95-'96 said. "Itwill sink in slowly."

First-year proctor Douglas Stone, associatedirector of the Harvard Negotiations Project, saysthe trainers hope to develop an "esprit de corps"in the April training session to they will be ableto deal with actual conflicts in the Harvardcommunity.

"My expectations are that people will start tosee the complexity [of certain situations and] tobegin to think how we would assist other at[seeing] this," Stone said.

Epps said that after the second training, themediators will be given assignments to aiddiscussion between various groups on campus. Themediators will be coached by the professionalsduring this time. Epps said

"We lost but we worked really well," Song said."We were going to be a dictatorship, but when westarted interacting, we felt sympathy for the redteam, and we made all these concessions."

Not all the future peacemakers were sosuccessful, however: Robert J. Fuller '97 says histeam built to tower at all.

"We couldn't come to a solution," Fuller said."We didn't produce anything. At one point someonecame to steal one of our blocks and we tried toknock down their blocks."

Trainees also played a game in which they hadto count the number of times the letter "F"appeared in a sentence. Most people miscounted,Armon said.

"The point of that was to realize that if youcan't do that simple task correctly." Armon said."When you are retelling a story, how certain canyou be are describing it in a correct way?"

Students enjoyed the activities and simulationsperformed this weekend and are enthusiastic aboutthe next session scheduled for April.

"I learned more from [this weekend] than manymore of my courses at Harvard," So said. "I'mlooking forward to the next session."

"We got inundated with a whole bunch of [ideas]this weekend," James N. Miller '95-'96 said. "Itwill sink in slowly."

First-year proctor Douglas Stone, associatedirector of the Harvard Negotiations Project, saysthe trainers hope to develop an "esprit de corps"in the April training session to they will be ableto deal with actual conflicts in the Harvardcommunity.

"My expectations are that people will start tosee the complexity [of certain situations and] tobegin to think how we would assist other at[seeing] this," Stone said.

Epps said that after the second training, themediators will be given assignments to aiddiscussion between various groups on campus. Themediators will be coached by the professionalsduring this time. Epps said

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