Student Testimonials - change title

The Reading Law School students share their views and experiences on training and mediating with Resolve.

 

Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience. I will remember being taught about different people’s behaviours and the reasons why people act in a certain way. I think this is a really valuable part of the training because it really helped me understand why the client may be feeling the way they are. Before I was taught about the reasons for people’s behaviour, I viewed aggression in particular in a very one-dimensional manner, not really appreciating that someone’s aggression may be disguising another feeling. So, I thought being taught about people’s emotions is an integral part to this course as this is an essential skill when trying to mediate disputes.”

 “I learnt a lot of mediation skills such as active listening, questioning skills, rephrasing, etc. I also learnt how to communicate better with people and to learn from my peers.”

“I feel a sense of accomplishment and I’m actually eager to face some real life disputes.  I have taken time to learn what others would usually miss when conflicts ensue. Taking the time to observe and analyse – frankly, I think it’s a rare opportunity.”

“I have gained many new skills, both personal and professional, that will really aid me in my career prospects and life in general. I would also like to think I have made new friends (despite meeting them on zoom!). “

“The ability to remain calm and impartial in conflict by understanding the point of views of both sides and the skills to resolve conflict in a way that benefits everyone”.

Kathryn Warburton 

"As a law student at the University of Reading, I was given the brilliant opportunity to receive training in Community Mediation from the Resolve team. Not only was the training extremely informative, but it was also great fun and made me very keen to get involved with the volunteering opportunities offered to students.

 

Throughout my final year of university I mediated various neighbour disputes and found the experience extremely rewarding. There were regularly challenging situations to deal with throughout the mediations, but with the guidance of experienced co-mediators, my confidence grew with each mediation. It was fulfilling to see that when we facilitated a constructive dialogue between two disputing neighbours, this really helped them to reach agreement on and solutions to their issues.

 

 

Kathryn W Pic.jpg

Resolve really invest in their mediators, and I was given the opportunity to undertake further training in February in Young Person and Family Conflict Training. I am very grateful to all of the team at Resolve for their guidance and the opportunity to engage in community mediations. I hope to continue my involvement going forwards." Kathryn

Jalisa Ogundelu - Mediation Training,  a new life skill learnt 

Jalisa.jpg

1. The Pro-Bono Fair - a good first impression:

My journey with Resolve began when I met them at the law school pro-bono fair. I was a fresher, full of enthusiasm and eager to reinvent my CV. Thus, by the time I went to the Resolve stand, I already had a stack of flyers from other organisations. Nevertheless, Resolve stood out to me that day (and it wasn't just because they had sweets). I'd never heard of the concept of mediation before. The word mediation was so foreign to me, I’d wondered what a meditation service was doing at a law fair for a good five minutes, before I noticed the different spelling. After speaking to the student volunteers, I was excited by this foreign concept. I was immediately drawn to the idea of conflict resolution outside court in a cost-effective way. I loved the idea of acting as a peacemaker of sorts. Smiling to myself, I snatched up an application sheet and scurried off back to my halls, eager to sign up before the course was full.

 

 

2. Mediation Training- a new life skill learnt:

 

I'd not known what to expect during the training sessions in reading week. I hadn't really made friends yet and didn't really know many people. I was also surprised at how long the days were. What would we possibly be doing all day? How would I get my assignments done? Yet, by the time I finished the course, I was buzzing to get my first case... I'd loved the training so much! I went from shy and meek, to confident and outspoken. I went from not having a clue about what mediation was for, to doing a national commercial Mediation competition in Glasgow the following year. What exactly happened in those days that led to such a change? The answer is I discovered a new life skill. I think the turning point was when Sue, one of the trained mediators, discussed the hypothetical orange scenario. What is one to do when two people want the same orange? The layman would fight over the orange causing only more conflict, emotions, and escalation. They are on a battle field, ready to fight from their respective positions over the orange. It's an ‘us against them’ mentality. In contrast, the mediator is not concerned with their positions but with their actual interests. What is the subtext? What is it that the parties are interested in? How can we find a common ground? I can’t give everything away here, else I would spoil it for others embarking on the training, just suffice it to say it's a win - win situation.

This was revealed further through the roleplays we did, which was probably the highlight of the training for me. This was an exercise where a pair would have to write a mediator script and act as mediators at a party visit, while another pair would have to pretend to be the disputing neighbours. This really put what we learnt to the test, and it was a lot more difficult to mediate in practice rather than in theory. The key thing I learnt is that communication is largely in the subtext. People respond much more to your tone, body language and eye contact than what you are saying. If our non-verbal cues don’t match our words, people no longer see the mediator as neutral and aren’t willing to cooperate. I walked out with a completely different mindset about communication. As a law student, all I'd ever thought about was one party being persuasive enough to win an argument. But now, I'd learnt a key life skill that enabled both parties to win.

 

3. Volunteer Mediator - exciting experiences:

 

I'd learnt the basics of mediation, but now I had to apply it to the real world. Before the pandemic hit, I began two cases and I really enjoyed the experience. On my first case, I was paired up with Kathryn who was excellent at building up rapport. Being paired with her meant it didn't feel so daunting. When some of the theories I'd learned flew out the room, her expertise and experience put us back on track. I found that mediation is a rather natural thing to us humans. It's really a study in the art of connecting with people, which the lovely Kathryn did very well. I noticed it wasn't just about taking as many notes as possible but asking appropriate questions to get to the root issue of the neighbours’ concerns. Kathryn’s personable and warm demeanour put the neighbours at ease, and we were able to identify the most relevant issues in the party visits. In my second case, I was paired with a mediator called Everton. We walked in quite optimistic, but soon came to realise it was unlikely the neighbour would want to participate in mediation. Though communications had clearly broken down quite badly between the parties, I admired how he stayed very calm and collected in order to defuse emotions. Beforehand, he had given me some great notes on how he handles party visits, and afterwards we discussed what had worked well and what had gone wrong during the ordeal. I always appreciated the opportunity to reflect, as it meant that I could improve as a mediator.

 

4.Mediation and Me - a newfound passion:

 

Although I did some other party visits, the pandemic, and the heavy workload of my final year, cut my mediation volunteering short. Most of the times the dates wouldn't line up, or I knew I wouldn't be able to commit to a case because I had deadlines. I was due to do some work experience for the office in the summer of 2020, but the pandemic meant this could not take place. Yet, this does not take away from how much of an impact working with Resolve has had on me. On the one hand, it has had a huge impact on my career goals. After feeling lost as to what career I would do, I quickly discovered that I had a passion for mediation. More importantly, mediation has shaped my perspective. I no longer wish to think about things from my own position, I’m much more drawn to the solution. In fact, when I find myself in arguments or conflict, I find myself referring to that orange metaphor and the plethora of mediation skills that I was taught. This has vastly improved the quality of my relations with the people in my life.