On Thursday, we had a long discussion about mediation and the role emotions can play in the peacebuilding process. In the morning we came into a small group circle and debriefed on the past two days of the prison visits, our visit to Rancho Cielo and the Salinas Police Station. These were conversations filled with a lot of emotion where we learned more in terms of the background of people and what an experience might mean to them and how different that experience might resonate with you based on your own background and the context of that situation. This was an interesting and beneficial preliminary session that contributed to a lot of the dynamics that we had going in later on the living room conversations.
The living room conversation in my group went really well in comparison to the other groups. This perhaps might have been because we were all females or perhaps because we all had a decent amount of experience in US society, but even when we were talking, our experiences were all different. We spoke about class and privilege and even though we were all from very different backgrounds, we could agree on the core idea of the struggle we felt between our own identity and how we were perceived in society. I found that the benefit of the living room conversation was the ability to personalize an issue and even allow for some level of agreement where one would think none is available.
These two sessions really made me think about the importance of grassroots movements in changing the global stage for how we approach conflict in a more personal and empathetic manner.