Christina is a student in the Master of Social Work program at Missouri State. She completed her social work practicum at the Center for Dispute Resolution this spring.
Tell us a bit about your practicum experience this spring at the CDR.
I will forever be grateful for the time I spent at the Center for Dispute Resolution during my practicum field placement. I learned many invaluable lessons and took away a great deal of insights from several incredible people who facilitated my learning and growth.
My time at the CDR has given me practical tools, expanded my skills, and as a result equipped me to navigate conflicts more effectively. There are many wonderful programs offered by the CDR that promote unity, healing, and restoration. I had the opportunity to be involved in several of these programs and now find myself seeking ways to advocate for more of these in our community.
Your practicum included a focus on restorative justice – what did you learn and experience?
During my practicum I learned about restorative justice (RJ) and the impact it has on individuals, families, and the community as a whole. I completed a literature review on the topic, listened to various speakers, attended trainings, and asked many questions as I learned about the various RJ practices and approaches being implemented around the globe.
Additionally, I witnessed Victim Offender Mediations and was a part of the CDR’s Victim Impact Program for youth. I also had an opportunity to interview an individual who partook in a RJ practice several years ago, and I got to hear first-hand how it changed the trajectory of his life.
I plan on using this information to raise awareness of and advocate for more restorative programs to be implemented in our schools, prisons, and communities. If the opportunity presents itself, I hope to one day launch programs like these. There are places here in the United States that lack resources and can benefit greatly from these programs.
You also took part in the CDR’s professional mediation training. How will these skills be useful in your social work practice?
In this training, I learned so much!
- I learned how to actively listen as a mediator and ask appropriate clarifying questions.
- I learned about how people’s perceptions and views can impact a conflict.
- I learned how to navigate the different stages of a mediation and incorporate that knowledge in my encounters with others.
- I learned the different theories and techniques to mediate conflicts effectively.
- I learned the value of remaining unbiased/impartial and the ethical responsibilities of a mediator.
- I also learned how to identify people’s needs and interests when listening to their stories in order to help them reach a resolution.
I am already applying all this information to many—if not all— of my relationships, both professionally and personally. The training helped me view conflict differently and approach it as an opportunity to empower others. I plan to continue utilizing these methods and techniques to help others who need assistance in the different organizations I volunteer at and serve.
What would you say to a student who is considering volunteering or interning at the CDR?
I would encourage anyone and everyone to take advantage of the training opportunities offered by The Center for Dispute Resolution and learn more about their programs. These are great resources that will benefit anyone professionally and personally, regardless of the role or position you fill.