Positive synergy created by the other

Jimin Kim (Grade 11, Branksome Hall Asia) on behalf of BHA PeaceMakers

We often speak of the school as a miniature society. A school is a place where we first step out of the family enclosure and meet new people, new environments and new worlds. We come across valuable experiences at school; explore deeper knowledge, build valuable relationships that money can’t buy, and solidify social and personal identity. But at the same time, school is also the place where we first experience failure, frustration and agony. This is not limited to academic difficulties only, but also to problems related to human relationships such as friends and teachers. In this “small society”, full of people completely different from what we have known, we often suffer, wander and lose. People often say that “kids grow up fighting”, but peer conflicts inside the school can become unbearable problems for immature teenagers who find themselves at the crossroads between children and adults. . About 28% of the stress teens experience is rooted in social relationships, and the number of college students who suffer from depression due to peer pressure is growing every year. Thus, the school, which is supposed to be a space for learning and interaction, can quickly turn into a space laden with burdens.

Our school currently has counselors in residences, middle schools, middle schools, and high schools. All are professional and knowledgeable counselors, and many students resolve their concerns through voluntary counseling sessions. However, there are also students who feel uncomfortable asking for help from counselors they hardly know, and there are clear boundaries to mitigate any conflict within the school by them- same. That’s where the idea of ​​the Peacekeepers came from. The goal of the club is simple: to make the school a more comfortable and peaceful place for students. The main goal of Peacemakers is to “emphasize equal relationships among students by promoting PR to build a more peaceful and safe school”. To this end, we promote a new method of problem solving, restorative practice (RP). PR is a strategy that aims to solve a problem by looking at the situation from the point of view of all the people involved in a conflict situation, leading the communication to find a common agreement without dividing the perpetrators and the victims. All peacemakers in the club learn PR in detail, gaining various skills and responsibilities as mediators in real-life conflict.

This semester, I took on the role of training lead to teach PR to new peacebuilders. As it was the first time I had been given such a crucial role, teaching the same students, although they were younger than me, was a pressure. A sense of responsibility is also born from the thought that if the education does not go well, there could be problems during the actual consultations. However, contrary to the anxiety I felt, the first session resulted in an unexpected result. Actively exchanging opinions and thoughts with various friends with different perspectives made me reflect on the core peacemakers I had forgotten about, and I was able to learn a lot from the discussions. The first class ended with such a lively and meaningful moment, eclipsing the apprehension that it would just be a simple theory-based class. This class atmosphere lasted until the last day. Although the course was conducted online due to the severe COVID-19 infections in the school community, I could feel my passion blossoming as I watched the students enthusiastically participate in the session without hesitation.

What I want to say through this experience is that the role of peacebuilders is not just to unilaterally listen to students’ concerns and offer solutions, but to communicate, share perceptions and move forward together towards the ideal. The basis of RP is not to provide the answer. Rather, it’s about steering the conversation so that no one is left behind and encouraging everyone to look back on their actions to find the solution they really want. This process has a positive effect not only on the people involved in the situation, but also on us acting as mediators. It is beyond a sense of pride and accomplishment, but a spiritual lesson and learning from watching peers recognize mistakes and achieve harmony by understanding each person’s position. Indeed, not all conflict situations have ended with good results and we are still immature peacemakers who have not yet learned or experienced enough, but even this progress helps everyone to progress.

“Peacemakers” has a more ultimate and fuller meaning than the literal meaning of peacemakers. What we do is not unilaterally suggest solutions or impose specific actions. It’s just to help everyone get along and be happy with the situation, guiding towards a win-win solution. When we feel the positive synergy we create together, that is when true “peacemaking” is achieved.

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