A diverse group of refugees and locals joined R3SOLUTE for yet another workshop this past Saturday afternoon, in conjunction with Nachbarschaftsheim Neukölln’s German language cafe. Since R3SOLUTE started in November 2017, we have had the opportunity to engage community members, refugees and locals, in workshops on story-sharing, conflict competency and trauma awareness recently partnering with local community organizations such as Refugio and Nachbarschaftsheim Neukölln.
The theme of this most recent session was Conflict competence and acting productively in challenging situations. This blogpost provides a short summary of how the workshop was run to briefly familiarize future participants with our work.
The workshop was held by Helen Winter, R3SOLUTE’s CEO, and Sebastian Winter, R3SOLUTE’s Chief Medical Officer, with the assistance of our Outreach Ambassador Saeed Zarghan. While the training was conducted in German, R3SOLUTE facilitated translations in English, Farsi and Arabic to promote diversity amongst its participants. The discussion included both previous workshop goers and as well as newcomers from a diverse array of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
This specific workshop utilized role-play scenarios to discuss and analyze common conflicts experienced in our everyday lives. For example, some participants discussed tensions surrounding a misunderstanding between a ticket controller and a subway passenger, or while others reenacted miscommunications that often occur in the workplace .
These role-plays not only presented relevant issues, but revealed different power dynamics, and racial-, social-, cultural- and economic class constructs, that affect the way a real life conflict occurs and develops. The attendees were also divided into pairs where they had the opportunity to work through challenging situations with one another. This gave people the unique experience of seeing a conflict from multiple perspectives, and being in the shoes of those that they wouldn’t always agree with.
Later on, the group was gathered for an open discussion, to reflect on their experiences, and discuss how their given roles affect the way they approach different difficult situations. Reactions from group attendees ranged from laughter, to frustration, and ultimately uncovered many relatable approaches and experiences. Throughout this process Helen and Sebastian were able to draw upon their respective experiences in law, mediation, neuroscience, and health policy to draw together discussion and summarize with insight and experiential knowledge.
Following these scenario-based exercises, participants discussed the topics of culture, religion, identity and the sometimes rather difficult experience of being a minority in Berlin. The diverse backgrounds of the attendees, which included both refugee’s and Berlin locals contributed to the richness and range of perspectives presented, all within a safe and open space that allowed participants to reflect meaningfully on their individual experiences. R3SOLUTE’s unique approach allowed the attendees to actively participate, while sharing their culture and customs with the other participants. This produced many spontaneous, entertaining, and impactful moments for everyone involved.
The accepting and inclusive environment that the R3SOLUTE team created with their honest, open and respectful attitudes, made this gathering refreshingly candid and relatable. By cultivating a comfortable atmosphere, participants were enabled to discuss difficult topics on which there were often widely ranging opinions.
These conversations resulted in mutual respect, understanding and heartfelt empathy and relatedness. Helen and Sebastian consistently related the discussions back to the daily lives of the participants while adding in insights from their academic and professional experiences. This made the workshop both educational and reflective. Both the workshop co-coordinators and the group supported one another with specific solutions and advice on situations and conflicts that attendees felt compelled to share. Talking points discussed at the workshop included:
- The challenges of having foreign language conversation partners
- Communication techniques such as active listening and question asking
- The origins and impacts of cultural bias
- The importance of honoring confidentiality
- The role of emotion and mental health in everyday interaction
- Waiting for your partner to fully present their point of view
An important focus was also put on mental health awareness guided by Sebastian’s experience with the Division of Health Systems and Public Health at WHO Europe. Mental health includes a wide range of topics that each contribute to interpersonal interaction and therefore often affect how people engage in conflict. It is also an area that is challenging to discuss, because of common stigmas and misconceptions surrounding it. The workshop allowed participants to learn ways of approaching mental health issues and reflect on how they may be affecting those around them. Furthermore, the trainers touched on how to appropriately go about seeking help for oneself or others. Follow-up contact information for several mental health clinics, which may bed useful in this respect can be found at the bottom of this post.
Conflicts can be scary, uncomfortable, and emotional. Because of this, they are often avoided as much as possible. However, when approached constructively, conflict can allow us to learn, grow, and move forward in our relationships. R3SOLUTE seeks to approach the subject of conflict through an inclusive, interactive and a participant-focused approach that teaches the process of transforming conflict from destructive to constructive. Additionally, by engaging a diverse group of people, participants are able to learn from one another’s in-depth experiential knowledge and benefit from exposure to differing perspectives and worldviews. Welcome, and we hope to see you at our next training!
A big Thanks to everyone who joined our workshop this time!
For further contact details on mental health organizations mentioned above:
-XENION Psychosoziale Hilfen für politisch Verfolgte e.V. [Psychosocial Support for the Politically Persecuted]
Paulsenstr. 55/56, 12163 Berlin-Steglitz, tel. (030) 323 29 33, www.xenion.org psychological counselling, social advice, psychotherapies
– Psychiatric institutional outpatient department of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy / Charité Campus Mitte – Acute consultation for refugees
Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin (on campus: Bonhoefferweg 3), tel. (030) 450 517 095 Tuesday 11am – 1pm (Arabic, Farsi, English)
-Centre for Intercultural Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (ZIPP)
Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Charité Campus Mitte Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, tel. (030) 450 517 095
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm
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