Day two – students work on their communications skills

The conflict resolution course tackled its first topic today – effective communication skills. The participants emerged from the session buzzing, explaining they had learnt a lot.

One Brit told me that he’d very much enjoyed learning about active listening and the importance of paying attention to body language. Sitting in the sunshine by the neatly mowed lawns, he demonstrated to me that you could be saying words that suggest you are listening, but these could be ‘drowned out’ by aggressive, disinterested or negative body language, such as folding your arms or turning away.

An exercise to demonstrate this was undertaken by participants who broke into pairs. One would talk about something they enjoyed doing, while the other would have to follow body language instructions written on a card, and assess the results. It was an enlightening process, one participant explained. 

Meanwhile a group of students hurried to meet Andrew for a phone interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. After the media flurry yesterday, it’s seemed a little quiet on the media front today. However, we did receive a statement from Amnesty International on the situation facing the Western Sahara participants. It made for sobering reading (see last post). We have received reports that they are now back at home.

Efforts continued to find some Morrocan participants in the UK to come to Oxford, whether as participants or contributors. No avenue was neglected and the team had some success. The Moroccan students who were unable to travel are very much in everyone’s minds. We know they are disappointed about what happened, after they spent months preparing for the course.

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