Plato says: “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation...” In addition, through play, we do not only learn more about the other, but also about our own selves...
In a world where youth can alternatively be primary victims and/or perpetrators of violence, it is important to prepare them to better understand and deal with conflicts before they become violent and thus destructive.
The ongoing tension and intolerance within our society reveal a persistent trend of conflict. The lack of reconciliation and the current political fragmentation created an environment of mistrust and hatred. This situation has deeply affected our community members and specifically our youth. Violence and clashes between groups from different communities is re-emerging.
What can I do to make a change in my country called Lebanon? I started to ask this question when I realized the amount of problems that our new generation has inherited from the civil war that lasted more than 15 years. In a country which is composed of 18 religions and which is soaked in a serious political division, the possibility of change seems almost impossible.
From my perspective, part of the solution lies in involving youth in diversity management, conflict transformation, peace building and human rights. Therefore, creating a dynamic of dialogue and mutual understanding amongst various youth became necessary and inevitable. Therefore, I decided to act!
We gathered an amazing group, young, flexible, energetic and impressively positive in what became known as RAY: Responsible and Active Youth, a project aiming at mobilizing, empowering and providing youth with opportunities to learn about themselves and the other, then to get involved in working with their own communities through emphasizing constructive partnerships between both of them.. We were from different religions and Lebanese regions putting our efforts all together in order to create "something". We didn't know at the beginning what that "thing" could be, but we strongly wanted to make a change through it.
We wanted that tool to be creative, youthful, alive, useful and practical. What could it be? After several meetings of brainstorming; with youth from different backgrounds, we finally found the answer: a GAME!! Yes, “LET’S TALK!” will be a game! As a team, we have always believed in the importance of learning through playing. Having fun was initially a golden rule in the RAY team!
The RAY logo was created by the Core Volunteers. The traditional Lebanese hat “Tarboush” represents the Lebanese heritage and culture. The modern looking blue (jeans) trousers and the Converse shoes resemble the spirit of today’s youth. This mascot comes to remind us of the conflicts that sometimes occur along generation lines. RAY is designed to portray the dynamism of youth.
“Let’s talk “ or “ Ta’o Nehke” attempts to provide organizations and professionals, working with youth, with a spectrum of good practice and strategies on how to work with youth as partners ensuring full and equal participation. It also serves as a training tool aiming at empowering youth on how to constructively deal with inter-personal conflicts.
“I learned through "let's talk" game how much it is important to know others’ feelings, perceptions and needs in a conflict", said one of the participants. Another one stated: "I didn't know that putting myself in others' shoes is so difficult, but it is amazing how it can positively affect the conflict".
Hearing those success stories from the communities contributed in making one step towards Peace!
Moreover, “Let’s talk” provides guiding principles on how to work with youth and to promote their role as agents of positive change within their communities by engaging them and helping them to take decisions and take the lead.
“I realized after playing the game that "a conflict is an opportunity to make positive relationships as I learned as well the importance of taking off all the assumptions and prejudices in order to have Peace” stated one of the youth.
One of the main highlight after playing let’s Talk in different communities
Training youth on conflict transformation is merely the first step in their journey of becoming agents of peaceful change in their communities. This can be done when coupled with long-term involvement, direct work with youth, through coaching, providing opportunities to learn, arranging support needed, allowing spaces for practice, trial and error and deduction to reach the phase where youth are themselves empowered and can decide freely how and where to get involved.
Basic overview of the RAY board game: “Let’s Talk” Through this game, players gain negotiation and communication skills and learn how to deal with conflicts positively. Four players go through a conflict scenario according to the role sheets that they receive. As they move by rolling the dice from one square to another, they deal with "tips" about other players, "perceptions", "negotiations", "time", “needs”, “empathy” – all important skills in conflict.
“Ta’o Nehke” or “Let’s talk” In brief
- Dynamic and interactive: a dedicated negotiation space whereby each player gets a number of opportunities to negotiate with other players
- Based on real life situations: the scenarios are based on real conflict assessment conducted by the youth themselves in their respective communities
- Adaptable to different communities and groups
“Ta’o Nehke” is designed to provide conflict-related knowledge, skills and attitudes to those playing it.
- Understanding conflict transformation concepts and terminology
- Understanding the various personality traits and conflict styles involved
- Discovering what is conflict transformation and how it is done
- Learning the difference between positions, interests and needs
- Learning how to mitigate interpersonal conflicts
- Developing an “evaluation-free-lens” which leads to having less assumptions while observing and understanding more
- Being aware of others’ feelings
- Putting oneself in the shoes of the other
- Negotiating within a limited timeframe, cooperating towards a common goal
- Practicing communication skills and ways to convince the other
- Fostering curiosity among participants to go back to their communities and to try out the newly acquired skills
- Acquiring readiness to reflect about and understand other parties before judging them
- Being less critical about other people and increasingly tolerating their conditions/circumstances
- Becoming focused on the process more than results when dealing with conflict
- Aiming at always achieving a balance between achieving one’s objectives and maintaining relationships
- Overcoming stereotypes and prejudice.