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Year 12 Peer Support Leaders learn valuable life skills at a Peace Foundation Workshop

Sharliz Ang (Year 12)

On the 6th of March, the Year 12 Peer Support leaders had the opportunity to attend a full-day workshop that was run by the Peace Foundation of New Zealand. The workshop focused on conflict and mediation. It taught communication skills for the leaders which they can effectively apply in their peer support program.

The two facilitators, Katherine and Christina, went through the importance of effective communication, especially when in conflict. They ran informative activities that help to develop leadership skills and building rapport. These activities made the students think critically, practice active listening, effective questioning, and mediation. Peer support leader, Ashley Liu, said that the activities were “…insightful and I feel like I learnt many skills that I could apply to my life. I also learnt about myself and the way I usually respond to conflict.”

A specific activity that was done, was an in-depth practice of the mediation skills known as the five magic questions. In this activity, the students paired up to apply the five magic questions. One acted as a mediator and the other acted as a peer who faced a conflict. For some, it was a difficult task that required critical thinking, as shown through peer support leader, Samara Anubhav, who said, “…It was really difficult to respond quickly and actively listen to my peer while ensuring I did not offer solutions to their problem. It required a lot of thinking and empathy to reflect and show my peer that I fully understood how they were feeling.” Although it challenged many, the activity provided beneficial skills that could definitely be applied in life. It made many students understand the importance of reflecting on what was being said, as a mediator, and solving problems through understanding people’s feelings and needs.

Another activity allowed the Year 12 Peer Support Leaders to gain a better understanding of themselves – the way they naturally react and respond to conflict. In this activity, the leaders learnt the 5 main ways an individual may react and respond to a specific conflict.

Ethan Rogacion, a peer support leader, summed up his experience of the workshop by saying, “The workshop gave us opportunities to learn important skills, which are certainly applicable in day-to-day life.” It was insightful and taught the Peer Support leaders vital skills that they can apply in a class environment with their peer support homeroom. They have learnt how to effectively listen, communicate, mediate and build deeper relationships with others — all of which will be helpful guide for them as a Year 12 Peer Support leader in the upcoming year.