Mediation memories.

So today, at the real estate contract-signing (and last-minute negotiation) in a law office in Tel Aviv, my memories of my Masters degree education were revived.

Two years after finishing my course in Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University, I found myself on one side of a glossy wood table, glass pitcher of water serving as the barrier between us and our lawyer, and my landlord’s team.

I was able to attend a real mediation case during my studies and I learned so much from those five hours. Being involved today in a much less dramatic, but still tactical, two-sided conversation with clear ‘interesim’ was interesting. A little tense. And definitely nostalgic for something I haven’t ended up pursuing.

But I can also say, following your own thought process during a negotiation can reveal a lot about you…

Graduation.

On the day of my ‘graduation ceremony’ from Bar Ilan’s Conflict Management and Negotiation program, I must note that five years ago,when I started, I wasn’t planning to still be at the job that was supposed to pay my way through university.

Yet here I am.

So, the degree was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe the program is better now, who knows. I’m still a bit scarred from one of the professors saying to us at the end of one semester: Don’t bother making mediation your career. It should be a side job, something nice you do aside from the job that feeds you.

Look, he’s not completely wrong, but saying it to students studying the field and not doing anything to better the situation isn’t completely right.

Anyway. I’m very lucky that the job that was meant to feed me through grad school became my career. In Israel, it doesn’t usually happen this way – you come with a profession and settle for less. I came with a bullshit humanities degree and experience in activism and journalism – and learned a lot. Both in mediation and in hi tech. I’m a different person than when I got here.

I was going to blow off the חלוקת תעודות  tonight but in the end decided I have nothing to lose. A good friend will join me; actually, a good friend I made waaay back when I first started the degree and the job.

I think she’s more happy that its completed than I am.

Bracing for heartbreak… but still hoping.

I know, I know. I won’t believe it till I see it, either. The Israeli in me is skeptical/angry/excited, the spouse in me is tormented/emotional/hopeful, and the mediator in me is curious/reflective/fatigued.

For better or worse, I’m indulging in this:

Eldad Regev’s father: Deal finalized for abducted troops’ return

The father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Eldad Regev said on Monday that his family and that of Ehud Goldwasser, the other soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah, have been informed that a deal for the abductees’ return to Israel has been finalized.

The sources did not relay any other details about the swap except for the fact that it had been agreed upon after expedited negotiations between Israel and Hezbollah, through German mediation. (source)

Arab media say Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange deal expected in coming days

While Jerusalem awaits developments that may lead to a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, Arab media reported Monday that a deal in which kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev would be returned to Israel in exchange for Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners is expected to be carried out in the next few days.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said the deal may materialize this coming Tuesday or Friday, while As-Safir reported that it will take place sometime between the 20th and the 25th of June. (source)

Lizrael Update: school keeps on truckin'.

I know it’s been a while since I properly updated with the whole fancy ‘lizrael update’ subject line. And this is likely to be quick, since it concerns school.

Some days I’m soclose to finishing my remaining projects (which these days numbers three) and some days I feel like I will never finish this thing. Fortunately, today was a soclose day. I’ll be done with one paper by the end of the week, starting a new one (ahem… two years over due one) after Shavuot and then I have my big fancy internship project to work on and then write up.

Of course, there is also the official ‘course gishur’ (mediation course) to take, which I still need to sort out dates and details for.

No more classes, no more books… but a lot between me and accomplishing the degree.

The final final.

I don’t want to make promises, because you just never know over here… But I’m %99.99 sure that I just finished my last ever final at Bar Ilan University…

…And I totally rocked it. Take that, Ethical Dilemmas in Mediation!

Here’s a portrait of the calm before the final:

It’s not the end of my degree, of course. I’ve got a lot more work to do and the mediation certification course to take. But I’m enjoying this small triumph until I start writing the next paper…

In appreciation of honesty.

I went for an interview today for an internship possibility for my conflict management course. Details about the interview and the internship itself aside… I walked away from the experience with a totally separate outlook.

After we established that I could give the internship a shot – it’s an intense task, in short organizing mediators and vaad bayit type bodies for buildings with mainly Ethiopian immigrants – my interviewer wondered aloud if my Hebrew would be a problem.

She explained that because they are Ethiopian immigrants, the non-Israeli Hebrew along with the non-Israeli accent might make it more difficult for them than it has to be. She also considered the culture clash of what type of immigrant I am.

Instead of feeling insulted, I felt relieved. I feel like no one ever acknowledges the fact that, yes, I can speak, but yes, I have an accent and my grammar is not nearly perfect. I’m either told my Hebrew is amazing and I shouldn’t worry or I have to endure the person switching to broken English, thinking it would help me. Both frustrate me because I know I can speak, and I can communicate; I can tell a story… but I’m also realistic about knowing it’s not perfect.

The acknowledgment took pressure off me; I think it was pressure I never knew I actually had. I appreciated the honesty and I’m looking forward to trying the internship or moving on to get to the point where I need to be.

The irony of studying mediation during a strike.

I received an email today from the head of the Conflict Management and Negotiation department at Bar Ilan, apologizing for the inconvenience of the strike. He is new to the position as of this year and I found his email refreshing; isn’t this what you would expect considering the focus of this department?

He explains that he understands the frustration of the collateral victims here – the students – and he notices the irony of studying conflict management in a country and time period where the leaders can’t get their act together and come to agreement. He hopes that in the meantime we are learning from the experience and that the strike will be over soon so that we can work towards entering society with the skills needed to avoid such situations in the future. He announces that the department will do as much as possible to make sure we finish our degrees with the least trouble.

Ok, I projected a bit; he didn’t necessarily say all of that, but I got his drift and very much appreciated the sentiment. It is good to know that someone at the university is thinking of us students; even if he is involved in the mediation field and he is striking himself.