Conflict Resolution Workshop hosted by Restore Belize and U.S. Embassy Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 31 May 2012 00:00

Conflict Resolution WorkshopRestore Belize is once again collaborating with the United States Embassy in an effort to reduce violence in Belize. Over a dozen individuals are participating in a conflict resolution workshop at the Institute for Technical and Vocational Education Training.

Luwani Cayetano of Restore Belize explained that the workshop is being facilitated by Julie Walton of the U.S. Department of State. Walton is a member of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). CSO advances the United States’ national security by breaking cycles of violent conflict and mitigating crises in priority countries. In Belize, the organization is engaging in conflict prevention, crisis response and stabilization with an aim to address the underlying causes of destabilizing violence.

During the workshop, individuals will be introduced to effective techniques used in conflict resolution. Those techniques will be taught by Cynthia Irmer and Stephen Thom, both of the U.S. Department of State. Walton came from a corporate background. After years of using her skills to promote corporate interests, she joined the Department of State in order to make life-changing contributions to her country and by extension the world. She spoke to the Guardian about one of the techniques used in mediation called active listening. In conflicts, we tend not to listen carefully to the individual we find offensive. While listening to them talking, we are already developing a counter response in our mind. That limits our ability to take in all they are saying and irritates us further. An active listener listens attentively to what the offender is saying and may even repeat it before responding. This allows us to fully understand their points and respond appropriately. An active listener’s response moves the situation closer to resolution. Irmer and Thom will also be sharing techniques during the week-long workshop. Irmer holds a Doctoral Degree in Negotiation and Mediation. She has worked in the field for more than thirty years. Thom has used his negotiation and mediation skills to work with some of the most dangerous gangs in the Los Angeles area. He has over twenty years experience in conflict resolution.

Cayetano said that the workshop participants are expected to use the techniques learnt in their field of work. The workshop participants are from organizations that work closely with Restore Belize such as the Community Rehabilitation Center, Belize Community Policing Unit and the Conscious Youth Development Program among others. According to Cayetano, CSO representatives will be in Belize for a period of sixty days. Two additional workshops will be held. Those are scheduled for the last two weeks in June.