A Non-Violence Training for Young People
Modrica, Republika Srpska, 13-14 July 2001

In a new spirit of co-operation between the CCPN and the NGO "Buducnost" ("Future"), from Modrica, Republika Srpska, the first of two planned trainings for youth was held in Modrica on 13-14 July 2001.

The training was part of the project "We Build a Better Future" of the Youth Centre "Future" (sponsored by Olof Palme Centre, Stockholm; the training was organized by FTC, Tuzla, with the CCPN as an implementing partner).

Ten participants, age 15-22, only 2 of them girls, attended the training. Three of them had previously experience in training and/or topics of the workshops.

The training was comprised of two day-long workshops: "How to improve communication skills" - non-violent communication

2. day: "Different styles of conflict resolution"

In the first part of the workshop "How to improve communication skills", held on Friday, the participants expressed their expectations and adopted common principles for the work. There were a few games to help with introductions, expressions of personal identity, and building a sense of the group.

Through different activities and subsequent evaluation/discussion, the participants became aware of their patterns of communication; discovered concepts of and practiced basic skills of non-violent communication: empathy, active listening, I-statements, open questions and reframing, body language, and assuring the clarity of the message.

At first most participants were visibly cool to participation in the games. This is usual for participants in their first contact with non-violent-workshop methods. By the second day the participants´ enthusiasm had increased and there was high regard for the theme.

The topic of the second day (Saturday), "Different styles of conflict resolution" was at first negatively received ("I have no conflicts"!?). But after the first few minutes, the participants loosened up and the workshop engaged their full interest and participation.

Through interactive methods, games, tasks and talks, the participants became aware their own behaviour/models, of the causes and kinds of conflict, and of the results of different styles of conflict resolution. The group was introduced to the types of control of conflict, and to the winner-winner model of conflict resolution.

The conception of the term "conflict", originally defined only negatively by the participants, changed during the workshop. The participants were faced with the reality of conflict in life, from interpersonal relations to social conflict. This inevitably touched on the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. The group talked about the war, the hard realities left in its wake, and the necessary work of peace and reconciliation, in which youth, as the "coming" generation, has an important role.

Observation of the group showed its great maturity (relative to the participants´ app. age of 18) and openness. The young people expressed a great interest in further training/workshops, and a desire for contact between youth from different parts of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the RS. This interest is very important. These children, now young people, grew up in war, in an atmosphere of hate and destruction, in mono-ethnic communities without opportunity for contact with people from different national/ethnic/religious groups. In light of the now-begun process of the return of minorities to Modrica, the interest in contacts is all the more important. The participants considered the return of children and students who attend schools in nearly towns in which live their own ethnic groups (not in Modrica): Croats in villages near Odzak; Bosniaks in Gradacac.

A few parents who came to talk with the CCPN trainer also support inter-ethnic co-operation, and expressed the need for rebuilding contacts and confidence between different ethnic groups in B&H, as well as the need to include young people in international happenings, and give them new hope for life and their future, which looks very dark in their present situation.

(As one result of the training, one girl and three boys were the CCPN´s delegation to the international BFE (Bridges for Education) youth camp in Timisoara, Romania, July 22-Aug. 13, 2001.)

In the common wall´s evaluation, as well as in personal evaluation lists, the participants gave very high marks for the training topics, method used, atmosphere of the group, personal involvement in the work, and the trainer. They expressed an interest in further training. On average, their satisfaction with the workshop was 7.4 on a scale 1-8.

Tuzla, July 2001
Report by Cvijeta Novakovic, Trainer, CCPN

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updated 16 Nov 03

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