Yay, I’m back from the Summit in one piece!
For those who don’t know, the Summit is basically a big get-together of Americorps members in each state or region toward the end of your service year involving speakers, breakout trainings, networking and (of course) eating. I’ve got a lot to post about on that, but I’m all tired and stuff so going to save that for later. First up, though, is a quick report on the last day of Mediation training to bring you up to date on that.
To catch up, the last day of the Mediation training was the first day we actually did the mediation role-plays all the way through the entire mediation process, including caucuses (taking the disputants aside one at a time to speak with them individually – can be great to de-escalate tension, if you think one party is holding something back out of discomfort or unwillingness to say it in front of everyone, etc). I thought it went pretty well – after so much practice I was able to go through the process much more smoothly and with less fumbling around to check with the manual to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.
At the end of the day we discussed certification, which basically involves something like 10 hours of actual hands-on mediation partnered with an experienced mediator as a volunteer at the mediation center.
Many of the group were disappointed to learn that they weren’t going to be certified after the three-day training. Due to miscommunication somewhere along the road, we all sorta got the impression that we would be, and a few of my colleagues noted that if they’d known that they weren’t going to be certified after the training they wouldn’t have completed it, the overall thought being that it kinda sucked to spend that much time in training and not come away with some tangible acknowledgment thereof.
I’m ambivalent about the issue myself. In one sense, you only really need the certification if you plan on mediating, in which case doing so will get you your certification. If you don’t want to mediate, however, but are simply planning to add the training and skills to your resume, then there’s no real need to be certified. Yeah, it would be great to be certified after busting our mental chops on this training for three mind-bending days. But regardless, we’ve each got a large degree of specialized and valuable training that could prove useful in any number of ways.
OTOH, it’s nice to have some sort of tangible recognition or closure after such an intensive training. Otherwise it kinda feels like you’re left hanging. And let’s be frank here – people are hung up on credentials, especially people like prospective employers and college admissions folks. No matter how much training you do or don’t have, there’s a higher degree of perceived value placed on whether or not you got a piece of ink-jet-printed copy paper testifying to your official status vis a vis that training. In fact, it seems like someone with years of experience, but no degree or credential, gets far less respect than a rank newbie waving around a diploma with the ink still wet on it.
So, yeah, there are certainly valid reasons to be pissed that we aren’t getting a certification we thought our hard work was earning us. I’m still on the fence about doing the required practicum, but I’m going to the new volunteer orientation meeting Tuesday just in case (it’s a required next step in the certification process). I’ll probably do it, if I can find the time, just to wrap up the certificate. Like I said, it looks good on a resume and it does garner a certain level of respect that just having the un-officially-recognized training under your belt doesn’t.
Anyway, that’s it for the mediation training wrap up. I’ll update you on the Summit later this weekend.