When we came to Akershus district to start our delegacy the first youth group we met was Asker. At this time, we were still very new, and we had difficulty especially when it came to finding the right trains to various destinations and which track to be on. This particular day we took the local train which takes longer time to move from point to point compared to regional trains since they stop at every station. We however managed to get there in time.
The group had a kompis evening which is a social evening where volunteers hold conversations on different topics and play games. We introduced ourselves and did a small presentation about the Youth Delegate Exchange Programme which some had already heard about. The volunteers together with the municipality youth group members discussed how they could increase cooperation and work together in future.
We were glad to join the group once again for the street mediation training. But where is Asker and who are the group members?
Asker is a municipality in Akershus county, Norway. It is part of the greater Oslo region. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Asker. Asker Red Cross youth group is part of Asker Red Cross - one of the nineteen local branches in Akershus district. The group started out in March this year and has continued to grow in number of volunteers and number of activities. The group usually has its meetings in Asker Kulturhuset (cultural house) which is located right in the center of Asker, a 3-minute walk to or from the train station. There is uniqueness and a lot of diversity amongst the members of the group. We have planned to organize a cultural evening so that we can learn more about the different cultures.
Street mediation is a Norwegian Red Cross program that aims to prevent violence and conflict among young people by equipping them with skills and knowledge of conflict management. It began in 2008 in Oslo Red Cross through support by Municipality of Oslo. In 2009 Tromsø Red Cross started the activity through a volunteer initiative. Since 2010 it has spread to other municipalities in Norway as well.
We had a four-day workshop in which we explored the concept of conflict and various ways of dealing with it. We learnt about non-violent communication model. Developed by an American psychologist Marshal Rosenberg the model focuses on interpersonal communication where giraffe language is considered language of the heart while jackal language is one of blame, criticism and judgement.
But why giraffe? Because giraffes have the largest hearts of all land animals. They are also able to see a lot of things because of the length of their neck. Jackals on the other hand because of their size have limited perspective, they tend to see what’s only beneath their noses.
For instance, a jackal talk would go like “You always play loud music in the room, because of you I feel miserable” while a giraffe talk would be “I have noticed that the past few days you have been playing loud music in the room. The lack of peace and quiet makes me feel annoyed.” Giraffe language puts emphasis on the need to show empathy, clarify needs and feelings.
In trying to solve conflict it is always advisable to try to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective, use open dialogue, give room for emotions, go back to root of conflict and most important be creative.
How about we do a challenge this week by practicing the giraffe language with our friends, colleagues, parents.