UC Berkeley Winter Externship Reflection: The Owl Goes “Hoot”

by Ashley Song, 2013 UC Berkeley Winter Extern.

In my limited experience of Peace and Conflict Studies, I had not yet explored interpersonal relationships, on which the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center focuses. But, through some online courses that the APADRC provided for their interns, I found I was an “Owl,” a conflict resolution type that emphasized collaboration and solving all aspects of the problem. This got me thinking about how an “Owl” might play out on the international and community level.

On the international level, it’s pretty easy to see ambassadors, presidents, and monarchs come together to settle disputes and make agreements to further the world into a new era. It is always well publicized on television and the internet. However, as I learned about the conflict resolution type of an “Owl,” I identified one Owl in history, Woodrow Wilson.

At the end of World War I, President Wilson pushed for a list of Fourteen Points, terms of agreement that he believed would bring all nations together to move forward in peace after five years of war. He looked to the future and the long term legacy of the war and tried to address all aspects of conflict, pushing with all of his might to promote international collaboration with the League of Nations. However, when his efforts failed, what he feared came true: World War II.

Wilson, as well as other “Owls” such as I, believe that even though lingering sentiments may be slightly unreasonable or irrational, they need to be dealt with to solve the entire dispute. These lingering feelings can become the trigger for a dispute resurfacing. Similarly, on the international stage, these lingering feelings brought about the Second World War and even prolonged the American, Chinese, and Korea Civil War sentiments we still see today. Obviously, these sentiments cannot be erased so easily, but must at least be addressed to solve as many aspects of the problem as possible.

In my experience with the APADRC, I have found that proper mediation in a safe space is an avenue to encourage long term and reasonable thinking, not to mention that the majority of mediation cases actually succeed. It gives way to lasting agreements and little chance of the same problems arising again.

If we continue to realize this pattern of unaddressed sentiments, we could finally have more hope that these conflicts, both community and international, have a greater chance of unraveling in a positive light. This is the next step to a long lasting positive peace for which the world constantly strives. By educating more people that have little knowledge about mediation, the community can experience mediation and see the local peace that it has accomplished. As an “Owl,” I firmly believe that this collaboration can become a center point from which peace can magnify to wider scopes..

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