Background

The key theme of the ABF GlobaLab Med is communication, with a particular focus on the role of non- (extra and para) verbal communication. Communication, particularly non-verbal communication, is in turn connected to the larger theme of conflict – understood in its many and multiple forms: war, but also personal, inner and relational conflict related to the problems of growth and adolescence and families, etc. – and its resolution, which is placed at the heart of all “ABF GlobaLab” Projects.  Indeed, communication, especially para- and extra-verbal communication, plays a crucial role in the resolution of conflict dynamics. Non-verbal communication, densely connoted by emotional-sentimental and relational aspects, as well as its ‘content’, is conveyed through posture, body language, facial expressions, the look that accompanies speech, and gestures, as well as the rhythm, tone and modulation of the voice.

With particular evidence within conflict relationships, ‘speech’, verbal language reveals only part of the intended message. In this framework, the ability of verbal communication to promote conflict resolution is only partial if it is not accompanied by body language, expressions, use of voice and posture that is congruent with the verbal message emitted and aimed at fostering a ‘de-escalation’ and the identification of negotiating ground, of a possible encounter with the other. Verbal communication alone is, in fact, not sufficient (Watzlawick, Beavin, Jackson, 1971). To be true ‘promoters of peace’, the words we say and receive – particularly within conflict contingencies, but this also applies to any type of relationship – must be congruent, consistent and authentic with respect to what is felt and with the real intentions of the speakers, as well as accompanied by listening and strong emotional engagement.

Within a conflict situation, paying attention to the other person’s non-verbal signals can help you to understand the real meaning and goals of verbal communication: in turn, this allows you to respond and react in a way that fosters the building of a relationship of trust and effective conflict resolution. A calm tone of voice and a look or an expression that shows real interest in the other person can gradually transform a tense conversation into the identification of a fertile ground for exchange and encounter with the other person. This is closely related to the enhancement of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 2011) and social-emotional skills, as well as communication skills in the strictest sense. Indeed, the ability to read and understand your own and others’ intentions depends to a great extent on our own emotional awareness: the more aware we are of our emotions, the easier it will be to relate effectively to ourselves and to others.

Purpose

The aim of the project is to promote vocational guidance, focusing on strengthening young people’s soft skills, particularly communication, social and emotional skills (e.g., effective communication, active listening, empathy, emotional intelligence; on the importance of soft skills in young people’s life, study and work, see, among others, the WHO, 1992; OECD, 2021, as well as the European Council, 2017, 2018; Marzana et al., 2018; Kautz et al., 2014), addressing these issues from two different but closely interrelated perspectives. That is, delving into the topic of communication, verbal and especially non-verbal, and the role of the media as tools for defining oneself and ‘constructing fiction’.

Why the Mediterranean?

The Mediterranean, the connection between North and South, East and West, is the space that more than any other challenges us, where we can give life to new scenarios of co-existence, in which diversity is not feared or simply tolerated, but is perceived as an asset. We can define it as a “mare humanum” by the very fact that it is a sea between lands, a place of “between”.

The challenge of the future is being played out in this sea, as prophetically glimpsed by Giorgio La Pira, who used to define the Mediterranean as a kind of “great Lake Tiberias”, a larger Sea of Galilee, capable of uniting peoples and nations and breaking down any barriers.  La Pira sensed the value and geopolitical role of the “Mediterranean space” as a focal point of world peace.

This sea poses fundamental questions for co-existence and overcoming major conflicts. “The Mediterranean has always been a place of transit, exchange, and sometimes even conflict. This place today raises a number of questions, often dramatic. They can be translated into a few questions: how can we protect each other as part of one human family? How can we nurture a tolerant and peaceful coexistence that results in an authentic fraternity?”.

The same questions that the great French philosopher E. Morin posed when looking precisely at the Mediterranean: “How can the various peoples of the earth be brought together without abandoning their own identity, but also without enclosing themselves within it in a fundamentalist way, becoming prey to a rejection of the other? And so, the problem becomes one of how it is possible to build bridges, communications, and versions of one’s own culture that are open to the other.  The Mediterranean is still a dividing line right between the northwest and southeast of the world, and so in some ways, although it is a local sea, it is the epicenter of a global problem”.

The challenge lies in co-existing, without succumbing to the temptation for supremacy over others but learning the culture of dialog and co-existence, the only way to a peaceful future.

A multifaceted sea, in which we can learn to listen and dialog in the plurality of languages, cultures, knowledge, and religions, a great construction site of integral ecology. All this requires us to be able to think and inhabit plurality.

Partners

The OIKOS Mediterraneo project is based on this vision, a project founded in Taranto, a city that is geographically strategic and beautiful but wounded by an incorrect model of development. It is precisely this wound that can be transformed into an opportunity to set in motion a different outlook and creative practices.

The ABF GlobaLab MED and OIKOS Mediterraneo, thanks to the collaboration of Giovanni Caccamo, are seeking to set in motion a new imagination capable both of making young people the protagonists of change and of seeing new connections between seemingly distant and unrelated cultures and visions to build a different future by involving young people from different Mediterranean cities.

The Mediterranean, with its melting point of different races, represents a strongly generative space for alternative thinking and a new balance between man, the world and nature.

Methodology

At the methodological level, the project is structured into:

  • Identification of the group of 40-50 young people involved and preliminary assessment of their social-emotional skills
  • Communication and conflict resolution workshop
  • Concert
  • 5-session workshop-based course
  • Subsequent assessment of socio-emotional skills acquisition

ABF’s role

Within the GlobaLab Med project, ABF:

  • Coordinates the network of local teams recruited in the local areas
  • Trains local practitioners based on the ABF GlobaLab approach to vocational and career guidance
  • Oversees the implementation of the project by providing resources to support the local team
  • Measures the impact of the project

The stages

  • Florence May 30, 2023
  • Jerusalem September 8, 2023
  • The next stages will involve 10 other Mediterranean cities over the next two years

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