Here are some of the key-learning points that we gathered from the daily feedback that participants gave in the course.
- Participants changed their attitude towards the supposed ‘effectiveness’ and ‘necessity of violence, changed their ideas about what actions are violent, (things that they had not considered so before) and how these are often justified or considered ‘normal’, realizing the extend of violence in society.
- Participants understood the impact of privilege on the possibilities one has to act, and that emotions such as feeling uncomfortable or ashamed (at the lower end) or guilty (at the higher end) can be used as motivations to act and create better circumstances for all.
- Participants became more aware of the ‘positives’ or opportunities of conflict and were able to distinguish responses to violence, which gave them more possibility to choose a response, rather than acting unconsciously. (“when pain is not transformed it is transferred” one group wrote, and “we need to integrate the knowledge of conflict in society”).
- Participants understood that power does not only come from ‘power holders’, but is also created by acting together and building ‘power within’.
- Participants reflected on authority after the video of the Milgram Experiment. They wondered why people obey. Some realized we are thought obedience from a very young age and that this can be problematic.
- Participants understood that communicating one’s feelings and needs can create more understanding between people and potentially impact a conflict positively. They considered it a useful skill, but one that takes time to master. It was insightful to see the different needs and strategies.
- Participants saw that it was difficult to meet everyone’s needs and appreciated the flexibility of the trainers and their ‘receptiveness’. (Flexibility was mentioned as a learning point in several days).
- Participants were happy to learn about social change roles, to see what role they take and what the pros and cons are. Sources of power, money, man-power, threat power etc,, and methods to counter these were considered useful. They also found the information of social movements helpful, particularly the point that a movement can give up when they perceive failure, but can be succesful when they continue working for their cause.
By engaging participants very frequently in role plays, we gave them the chance to increase their awareness of their own and other people’s behaviour and experiment with changing the situation.It was also a way to try and implement some of the knowledge they gained. We can say that participants
- understand different aspects of violence (direct, structural, cultural) and how they react and interact to/with it (the conflict response models)
- practiced intervening in conflicts/ situations of intimation and power-over, prevent escalation of a conflict and get acces to power to and within.
- Were stimulated to use their creativity and take initiative (especially in Forum Theater, where others observed their interventions, and they did not act all at the same time, like in the power role plays or re-framing the blame for example)