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By linguistic analysis, the terms coexistence and cohabitation are different, yet related.  Coexistence clearly means existing simultaneously, whereas, cohabitation implies living harmoniously together with others.  This seminar focused primarily on the differences between these two terms and why these differences are important to comprehend.  They supplied the following three:

  1. coexistence implies time and cohabitation implies interaction and harmonious relationship
  2. coexistence is a term used with both animate and inanimate objects while cohabitation refers mainly to animate objects (i.e., human beings)
  3. coexistence may be used negatively, while cohabitation is primarily used positively

Thus, if coexistence is inevitable, then all individuals involved should realize what it means to cohabitate.   And, therefore, these individuals should follow the guidelines below:

  1. Be flexible and willing to put effort into accommodating others.
  2. Be tolerant and merciful, accepting the differences.
  3. Establish standards and set up ground rules for shared space and responsibilities.
  4. Expect conflict and be prepared with peaceful ways of resolving it.

In order to promote harmonious living among different cultures, it was recommended that one follow the principles of interculturalism:

  1. All people are equal, but not identical.
  2. Eliminate stereotypes.
  3. Interculturalism affects both host society and immigrant.
  4. Culture is more than ‘history’, it’s new practices, ideas, and beliefs because culture is always changing.
  5. Identify ‘traditional’ injustice and create change.
  6. View conflict positively, in that it’s a chance to right wrongs and work towards resolution.

Intercultural communication

Communicative competence encompasses much more than just language or culture.  According to a model proposed by Usó-Juan and Martínez-Flor (2006), it involves linguistic, pragmatic, strategic, intercultural, and discourse competences as well.  Below is a graphic illustrating this model.

Usó-Juan & Martínez-Flor, 2006

Hence, effective intercultural communication is not simply verbal communication (linguistic competence), but also nonverbal.  This nonverbal communication may be placed under intercultural competence (i.e., body language, use of space, touching, or silence).  Additionally, intercultural competence is being aware of one’s own culture and rethinking one’s values and cultural identity, becoming aware of any ethnocentric beliefs one might hold.  It also involves the elimination of negative stereotypes even though it is deeply rooted in the culture or language.  Once aware of these viewpoints one must work toward understanding the behavior of others by communicating.  By communicating, emotions are shared and empathy grows.  Relationships thrive on empathy for one another.  The following short video both articulates and illustrates this point well.

Furthermore, misunderstandings are normal.  They will occur more often than not between two or more different cultures.  Therefore, it is necessary for those involved to develop the skill of metacommunication, that is, to voice the meaning of our messages clearly, saying not only what we mean, but also what effects of our words should cause.  Finally, when communicating interculturally, all parties involved should recognize unbalanced power and work towards creating a more balanced playing field.


Presented by: Gloria María Abarca and Marisol Suárez Sierra

This was a very different seminar.  We practiced breathing and focused on relaxing.  At first I thought that it was going to be a waste of time, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It was very interesting and beneficial, I believe, for all of the students in the Peace Master who are working hard and feeling a lot of stress.  This was the first time I have ever heard of holistic peace…  It seems important and I would like to learn more about it.  During the seminar we practiced different types of exercises.  It reminded me of yoga.  People are always telling me that I need to do yoga because I am always stressed out.  Perhaps they are right…  Learning about holistic peace reminded me that I must also focus on peace in my own life.  I am continually seeking to promote and work for peace outside of myself, but I realized that I am constantly conflicted with ideas, emotions, and various things that contribute to a stressful lifestyle.

I agree that we should strive to find personal peace.  However, I do not agree that it is necessary to find personal peace to be able to work for peace outside of ourselves.  There are many honorable people in the world that failed to attain personal peace, but contributed greatly to peace in the world.  In other words, some people work better for peace when they are living at high altitudes and plagued by stress and anxiety.  I do not feel peace when I see suffering and poverty.  I do not feel peace when I see the country where I am from waging war.  I feel anger and anxiety, which motivates me to work for peace.  In a strange way, anxiety can drive us to achieve impossible goals.  Yet, it can also kill us…  Therefore, although I believe that personal peace is desirable, I do not believe it is necessary to live a life working for peace in the world.

Here is an interesting video:


Presented by: Alejandro Pozo. Centro de Estudios para la Paz J.M. Delàs

This was a very interesting lecture.  Surprisingly, the translation to English was better than usual…  Alejandro Pozo made a strong and persuasive argument against military intervention in Libya.t

It is true that the Security Council passed a resolution aimed to protect the civilian population, but NATO and international forces are going beyond what was voted on and agreed to by international law.  In fact, they are now claiming the right to wage aggressive war.

I agree with what was said in this seminar.  We have been fed a lot of propaganda by the mainstream media and western governments about the necessity of intervening in Libya.  However, the humanitarian reasons to intervene are lies.  There are many reasons for why western powers wish to topple Gadhafi and occupy Libya.  Oil is a major reason.  Yet, it is not the only reason.  Giant corporations and the military-industrial-complex also stand to gain from the overthrow of Gadhafi and the occupation of Libya.  Of course, I do not support Gadhafi, but neither to I support war disguised as humanitarian intervention.

The language employed by the United States and its allies gives the impression that a no-fly zone is merely the prohibition of aircraft.  However, a no-fly zone actually entails the bombing of military targets and is essentially an act of war.  And, of course, the result of such strategic bombing is collateral damage—the slaughtering of innocent human beings.  Calling a war a no-fly zone is a convenient way for the United States government and its allies to garner support for another war of military aggression.  Furthermore, Ben Rhodes—the Deputy National Security Adviser—refused to concede to reporters that the U.S. bombing in Libya is an act of war.  Rather, he referred to the bombing as kinetic military action.

The US and its allies do not know exactly who the rebels are who they are supporting.  There are allegations that the rebels are even made up of Al Qaeda and other extremists.  This is eerily similar to what the US did during the 80’s when they supported the Mujahideen against the Soviet forces (ie. blowback).

Presented by: Eduardo Lloret, UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) is an agency that was set up in 1949 to assist, protect and stand up for the 4 million plus Palestinian refugees (and their descendents) in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the occupied Palestinian territory (West Bank and Gaza).  A refugee is defined as anyone that lost their home and ability to support themselves during the 1948 conflict as well as those who lived in Palestine between June 1, 1946 and May 15, 1948.  Some of the ways it assists refugees is by providing education, health care, emergency services, and social services.

The UNRWA spends approximately $1.2 billion USD each year.  It is funded by UN member countries’ voluntary contributions.  Some of the donors are the United States, Britain, Sweden, the Arab States, Japan, and Canada.  Most of the money is spent on education, which has led to Palestine having one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East.

Until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been resolved, by either the repatriation of Palestinian refugees or the creation of a Palestinian state, the UNRWA will continue their work, renewing their mandate every three years.

I strongly recommend watching this powerful documentary.  The name of it is Occupation 101:

Presented by: Salva Lacruz, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR), Spain

CEAR (The Spanish Comission for Refugee Aid) is an organization that began in 1979 in order to defend and promote the rights of refugees, displaced people, and others in need of international protection.  They work in the following regions:  Canary Islands, Euskadi, Andalucia, Ceuta, Melilla, Extremadura, Valencia, and Madrid.  Their values are justice, solidarity, freedom, and equality and they work to defend these for all.  They intervene in the following areas:  asylum, migrant assistance, employment, job training, social intervention, and refugee centers.  The refugees are at risk of violence and other forms of persecution, such as, crimes against gender (i.e., sexual violence, FGM, forced marriages, etc.).  CEAR provides social care and law services (more than 150 lawyers), and launches campaigns to show their solidarity with all those affected by persecution of any kind (political, ethnic, religious, sexual, etc.), poverty, or any other human rights violation.  The following graphic shows the refugee situation at the end of 2007:

The US wars of aggression have created many refugees.  Many innocent Iraqi people have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence.  Similarly, in Afghanistan many have fled from the violence.  Furthermore, it is so disheartening that another war is underway in Libya–waged by western powers—which has already created many refugees seeking asylum in Europe.  We must oppose these wars of aggression that result in the slaughter and displacement of human beings.

We hear a lot about the casualties of war, but the mainstream media largely ignores the tragedy of war refugees.

Presented by: Kevin Brown, Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, Canada

There are three styles of mediation:  facilitative, evaluative, and transformative.  In facilitative mediation it is important to understand that all parties understand their own interests better than anyone else involved.  Therefore, the role of the mediator is to focus the creativity of the parties by clarifying and enhancing the communication between the parties so that they can produce their own solution.  In evaluative mediation, the mediator is an expert in substantive legal matters.  The process and procedures are completed with mediator assistance.  Solutions are created through joint and separate meetings and the mediator helps negotiate settlements.  Those with authority must be present in order to settle on proposals made by the mediator.  Lastly, in transformative mediation, the mediator works to bring parties from negative and destructive conflict interactions to positive and constructive ones.  Transformative mediation seeks to give empowerment and recognition to all parties, and focus on party interactions.  Furthermore, it hopes to foster an ongoing relationship between the parties by encouraging parties to see different perspectives.  The following tools are necessary when implementing transformative mediation:  active listening, reflecting, questioning, summarizing, shifting, and appreciative inquiry.

The guiding principles of transformative mediation are:

  • The parties have to make any shift by themselves.
  • Shifting has a natural order.
  • The road towards transformation is rarely smooth.
  • Patience, patience, patience.

This was another interesting seminar about mediation.  I learned some useful techniques and ideas today.  I liked and agree with the notion that the parties involved must reach their own solution.  The mediator cannot force peace upon them.

Presented by: Yazmin Muñoz, Master’s Peace student, Universitat Jaume I, UJI, Spain

Armed conflict for over 50 years in Colombia

Causes:  struggle between political parties and those that want power as well

– Social inequality

– Unequal distribution of wealth

Women are caught in the middle of this conflict and are affected in the following ways:

– Forcefully displaced

– Physical violence and threats

– Separation from and loss of loved ones

– Fiscal and economic insecurity / poverty

– Risk of sexual violence

I believe that much of the conflict in Colombia is fueled by the US War on Drugs, which is used—like the War on Terror—to justify US imperialism.  According to the Monroe Doctrine, the US foreign policy strategy was to dominate the western hemisphere and to stay out of other places in the world.  Colombia has been a key country in maintaining control in Central and South America.  However, since the US became involved wars in the Middle East the US has lost control of Latin America.  Colombia is one of the last strongholds for the US in South America, but its influence there is diminishing.

It is noteworthy to mention that Spain is the second leading consumer of cocaine (US is first).

Here is an encouraging story:

Six steps of Interest-based negotiation

1) The bargainers describe and define the issue, such as the topic to be discussed and/or the problem to be resolved.

2) An opportunity for each party is provided to identify its interests in regard to the issue—and to explore the interests of the other party. An interest is a reason why the issue is important to one or both of the parties.

3) With a shared understanding of all the interests, the parties engage in step three: the creation of options or potential solutions to satisfy as many of the interests as possible.

4) The parties agree on the criteria they will use to evaluate the 2 | ASSOCIATION FOR QUALITY & PARTICIPATION | Cincinnati, Ohio options. Criteria are the characteristics of an acceptable solution.

5) The parties select the options that best meet the agreed-upon criteria.

6) The parties integrate or craft these options into a comprehensive solution, concluding the process.

For a copy of “Win as Much as You Can”, visit

This was the most interesting seminar yet.  The professor was very provocative and challenged the audience.  He raised questions regarding the point of peace research.  His critique came from a post-structuralist philosophy.

The media often views and presents nonviolent struggles incorrectly.  First, it views nonviolent action as inaction, avoidance or passive resistance.  Second, “the effectiveness of nonviolent action is a function of the ideology or repressiveness of the oppressors”.  Also, it usually sees nonviolent action as a tactic used when there is no other option.  Next, nonviolent action is viewed as something that is establish by “culture, economic system, geography, or other structural conditions”.  In addition, the media views nonviolent action as being related to certain beliefs, whether they are religious, metaphysical, or otherwise.  Lastly, the media believes that nonviolent action can only succeed if it is lead by someone “charismatic”. 

Therefore, when presenting nonviolent struggles on news programs, the media presents them in such a way as to influence the viewer.  They do so using, predominately, the following techniques:  framing and frame analysis, fragmentation, dramatization, euphemism, and authority-disorder bias.  Other reasons for misinterpretation could be due to:

1.    not diligently reporting from the scene

2.    not completely understanding the situation or topic

3.    not understanding the big picture

4. laziness (intellectual or journalistic)

What can we, the viewers, do?  We should be conscious viewers, not just ingesting everything we are told by the media as truth.  We should also ask questions about what we see, to check for validity.  Next, we ourselves can use “accurate language consistently, so as not to pass on misconceptions heard in the media.  Finally, we can search out authentic journalism (i.e., blogging, Twitter, etc.).