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January 15, 2012

Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinic runs program for Israelis, Palestinians

JERUSALEM | In partnership with the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic Program at Harvard Law School, Seeds of Peace offered 32 of its Palestinian and Israeli Peer Leaders (aged 16-17) a three-day training in basic mediation and negotiation.

“It was a fascinating opportunity to learn how to overcome obstacles in the negotiation process and how to be a good mediator between people, which as Seeds is something we often experience,” said one participant.

“We learned a lot of new things,” said another. “I think we should be proud of ourselves.”

The Seeds who attended the intensive January 13-15 program titled Bridging the Gap: How to Resolve Disputes Through Negotiation engaged in a range of activities, including several negotiation and mediation role plays, and active listening exercises which highlighted the significance that emotion plays in negotiation. The Seeds also learned about negotiation in conflict settings by playing roles in a multiparty negotiation simulation case based on the Northern Ireland conflict.

“I was deeply impressed by the Seeds’ passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the material we had to share,” said Robert Bordone, the director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. “I hope that some of the lessons related to problem-solving negotiation and mediation will help them as they develop into leaders for their schools, communities, workplace, and nation.”

While at the training, Seeds met in discussion groups to talk about how the new skills and concepts they were learning could be applied directly in their relationships and communication with one each other and with others across the conflict.

As Peer Leaders, Seeds gain advanced leadership training and take on greater responsibility for guiding and supporting younger alumni. Seeds will put these skills to use as peer mediators in their schools, helping to facilitate group dialogues between other youth in conflict, and in Seeds of Peace programs involving negotiation of core conflict issues.

The training curriculum designed and led by our Harvard partners will be supplemented by an instructional guide so that staff can lead the training in the future.

“It was an honor to partner with Seeds of Peace on this project,” said Bordone. “The path-breaking work they do every day is inspiring and so important. We had a blast getting to know the Seeds themselves as well as their dedicated and energized staff.”

“On behalf of the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that will give us opportunities to engage Seeds and help develop their skills in conflict resolution, mediation, and peace-building.”

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