Over the last week, a remarkable group of people gathered in Pristina, capital of the partly-recognised state of Kosovo. In a small paradise of warm sun, a cool garden with lush trees and bubbling fountains, and an atmosphere of openness and laughter, many outstanding peace activists from all over the world discussed, shared, learned from and inspired each other around issues of (inter)mediation and facilitation.
Part of the people present were my colleagues – many of whom I got to really know, with all their skills, experience and personal qualities, much better over these four days of intensive interaction. The larger part of the group was constituted by the partners IKV Pax Christi works with in all these different parts of the world. From my own beloved Caucasus and our host region, the Balkans, to far-off central Africa and the turmoil of the tormented Middle East. Their stamina, knowledge, and courage impressed as much as their enthusiasm, good spirit and humour made the whole seminar a dazzling and extremely enriching experience.
It made me feel extremely honoured and grateful, but also at times a little nervous, to be in the position to guide such a group through the four days of exchange, interaction and learning. With three languages, almost 50 people and an incredible amount of expertise in the room, finding the right format wasn’t necessarily obvious. Of course, I wasn’t alone; our IKV Pax Christi team was reinforced for the occasion with our partners Oliver Wolleh and Wolfram Zunzer from Berghof Foundation, and Valdete Idrizi, founding mother of partner organisation Community Building Mitrovica and currently director of the Civikos platform in Pristina.
With a strong team in place and a lot of thinking, discussing and conceptualising, we shaped four exciting days of aligning theoretical concepts, playing role-plays, analysing the stages of a mediation/facilitation process, but first and foremost share the rich experience within the group, discuss diverse case studies, distil best practices and analyse the ingredients for success. I think I can safely say that most of us left energised and inspired by new ideas and great people. And some of us found that our work consist of a lot more facilitation than we initially thought…
Thank you to all who were there and made this a week to remember – and build upon.