Breaking the Cycle of Violence

by Jennifer Torres

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Living in Southern Los Angeles violence was prevalent throughout my community, as I saw gang violence emerge from every corner at night. Late at night I would wake up to the noise of helicopters flying right above my neighborhood due to gang violence. I grew up in a violent community and I would see how violence would mold youth to become a part of the never ending cycle of violence. There was something that needed to be done in order to end this cycle and to make my community less violent and more accepting for future generations.

In 2011 I decided to become a Peer Mediator for King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. I became a Peer Mediator because I wanted to be a part of the solution and end violence. Many of my peers come from similar communities that I come from and violence has also been prevalent in their lives. Many of peers would resolve their problems with violence and as a consequence they would get suspended or expelled. I was sick and tired of seeing my peers fight over misunderstandings that could have been handled differently instead of resulting to fighting which lead them to expulsion. As a high school student, being in a hostile violent environment was something that I did not want to experience and through Peer Mediation I made sure that students would never experience that type of environment. I wanted my fellow peers to experience an accepting and friendly environment in order for them to grow and prosper.

Peer Mediation gives an alternative way of solving problems in order to avoid violence and has taught me how to handle disagreements and problems. Through mediating cases I noticed that there are different sides to a story as well as different ways of solving a situation that does not lead to physical harm. The reason why physical violence happens is because no one wants to discuss their problem so they act on their emotions instead of facing their problem. The reason why many problems occur is because of misleading information that has been accumulated through gossip. This gossip can be toxic and very hurtful to someone which can lead to violence. Talking about a problem can diminish misleading information and clear up anything that needs to say between the disputants.

I’ve learned that being prideful isn’t going to take me far, sometimes you have to swallow your pride in order to get over the problem and get to the solution. I’ve used skills that Peer Mediation has taught me in my school and social life. I’ve noticed that I have less problems and less altercation with my peers because I know how to handle a situation and how to approach the problem in a nonviolent manner. Peer Mediation breaks the cycle of violence as it educates its mediators as well as the student getting mediated on ways on how to solve a problem in a nonviolent way. These valuable new skill are hopefully are applied to their everyday life, so that they can practice in their community. These skills can be spread throughout communities so that others can adopt them and diminish the violence cycle.

Four Ways to Improve Your Constructive Feedback

Four Ways to Improve Your Constructive Feedback

By Jennie Li

Giving (and receiving) feedback is an important aspect of developing ourselves personally and professionally. However, it can often be a source of anxiety and contention, especially when presented without tact. In this article, we’ll examine some ways to help smooth out your feedback style.

1.       Preparation is key.

Like most undertakings, presenting your opinion well requires preparation. Thinking about who the person is, the kind of feedback you’d like to give them, and the ways they might receive your feedback are all aspects of being prepared. Giving a little thought to the issues you’d like to present to the person will allow you to present your thoughts in a more organized and confident fashion, perhaps even saving you from last minute tongue spluttering.

4.       Care about the person and the issue.

Our intentions manifest in the way we speak. The premise of constructive feedback, improvement through inviting other perspectives, speaks to me as an act of fundamental good faith. When you are able to emotionally invest in the wellbeing of the people and the issues at stake, your constituents will be able to see this through both your verbal and nonverbal communication styles.

2.       A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Constructive feedback means giving a balanced assessment. Like writing a story, it is important to switch up the kind of information you give – hearing only about problems can put your listener into a set mode (feeling defensive, or hurt). The danger here lies in the fact that without any distinction between the kinds of information you are giving, the story is  flat, and your individual points are lost in the monotony. Sandwiching suggested improvements with positive feedback can make the information more palatable, and easier to remember as well!

3.       Don’t tell, ask instead.

Hearing feedback as a demand can cause us to raise our instinctive hackles. Remember, your feedback is an opinion and a suggestion! Ultimately, we are our own masters of our actions. Phrasing your critique as a request is one way of disarming the defenses, and it recognizes the power of the critiqued as the one to implement their own improvements.

APADRC Welcomes Claire Doran as Program Director!

By Charles Chang

The APADRC is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Program Director, Claire Doran.

Claire Doran was born and raised in Cupertino, California to immigrant Indonesian and British parents.  She received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Peace and Conflict Studies, with a concentration in Conflict Resolution.

During her time at Berkeley, Claire worked for the Berkeley Student Co-ops as their Coordinator of Diversity and Anti-Discrimination, and for the Cal Student Orientation (CalSO) as Administrative Coordinator.  In 2008, She studied abroad in Italy at the University of Padova, where she interned at the Human Rights Center and went on to become a Robert T. Matsui Local Government Fellow at San Francisco City Hall working with District 8’s Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

After graduating, Claire worked in mental health as a residential counselor at a high-level Community Treatment Center for a year.  She volunteered on farms in Queensland, Australia after the floods in 2010, and then worked as Program Manager at the Soul Blazing Sanctuary in Sherman Oaks.

Claire joins the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center in October 2012 as Program Director, bringing her passion for community mediation and strong theoretical and practical backgrounds in multicultural conflict resolution to the APADRC.

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Claire to the APADRC family!