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4.3 Intercultural mediation

4.3.1 Conceptualization

Mediation acts as an intermediary in situations in which there is no conflict but communication difficulties. It is also an action intended to get to an agreement, to conciliate or reconcile people or different parties. 
There are three types of mediation: 
“Preventive” mediation is the one consisting in facilitating communication and understanding between people with different cultural codes.
“Rehabilitative” mediation is the one which intervenes in conflict resolutions between immigrants and the welcoming society or within the own immigrant families.
“Creative” mediation is the one consisting in a process of rules transformation, or much better, of creation of new rules, new actions based on new relationships between the parties. 
This mediation tries to contribute to a better communication and relationship and to an intercultural integration between people or groups in the same territory belonging to one or more cultures.

4.3.2 Intercultural mediator profile


The general characteristics of the intercultural mediator’s profile must include: being older than 25, being a woman or a man depending on the group they interact with, being associated to the cultural origin of the group, having migration experience and having been for a long period of time in the welcoming society.

In relation to his/her skills, he/she must control instruments and proceedings of: personal support (empathy, aid relationship, active listening, communication, etc.); encouraging groups and conducting meetings; analysis of socio-cultural systems; negotiation and resolution of intercultural conflicts; Information, awareness and diffusion; team work; defense of rights and interests (claim proceedings, demands, etc.); Social Action; Immersion and taking distance from the different situations they intervene.

He/she must also know: the language of his/her culture of origin or alternatively other vehicular language and the host society language; he/she must have basic knowledge about different patterns of personnel development and interpersonal relationships. Besides he/she must know migration and human movements; and control concepts of participation, organization and revitalization of groups. It is necessary he/she knows basically the functioning and resources of majority society and immigrant groups, as well as the applicable law in origin and host societies; and he/she is also required to have basic knowledge of social groups and their organization – in origin as well as in the host country – and of the relationship between majorities and minorities. 

His/her attitude towards the world must be open, creative, imaginative and he/she must show interest to learn and know each other. He/she must become aware of what is happening around him/her and become aware of himself/herself. He/she does not close his/her eyes to reality, being sincere and confident. He/she takes advantage of possibilities when there seems to be none. He/she must be honest, brave and modest. He/she does not fool himself/herself and always does what he/she must do without hidden aims and straight forward; he/she has courage and does not stop when faced with difficulties. He/she is aware of his/her role. He/she must have a close attitude with the other, of active, committed and supportive listening. He/she must be close and accessible to others, know how to be trusted and respected by others, understand them and pay them attention. He/she has an opportunity of working for justice. 

In the relationship, he/she must show interest on the other, having faith in the resources and possibilities of the other and accepting each other as they are. He/she worries for the other party and their situations; he/she enables the other’s possibilities. He/she knows their view of the world is not the only one and he/she understands and gives value to the other’s view, respecting it but not sharing it. 

He/she must be collaborative, allowing others to participate and participating himself/herself, negotiating and reconciling. He/she acts along with others in the achievement of goals, gets involved in the development of tasks and makes space for other’s involvement; he/she tries to close positions and different views of the world. 

His/her ideas must be flexible, tolerant and respectful. He/she does not possess the truth, accept other’s views, as well as take into account other’s opinions and practices; pays attention and accepts what the other says or does, recognizes other’s rights at the same time he/she asserts his/hers. 

He/she must also show calm, coherence and be well-balanced. He/she says what he/she does, and does what he/she says; knows how to place himself/herself in events in a peaceful manner, stands up for moderation and negotiation in conflicts; knows how to harmonize opposite positions in situations, looks for equality in the relationships and is wise when facing facts.

4.3.3 Attributes of intercultural mediator

The intercultural mediator must be responsible. He/she must ease communication between both parties, does not substitute another professional and it is not an “extensible arm” of the other to get to where the other can’t. If the mediator becomes an intermediary, he/she takes away the party’s possibility to build a direct relationship between them.

As regards confidentiality, the mediator is usually a member of a group to which he/she must answer to and he/she must belong to an entity (double loyalty). The work of a user is not shared with another person even though the norms that rule intimacy in the group’s relationships are permitted by other contexts.  We must find respectful, cautious and reasonable formulas to inform without scorning or infringing its cultural values.

As regards impartiality, the mediator must not position himself/herself in favor of his/her company’s approaches or interests nor in favor of the immigrant. The mediator must make sure he/she makes the decision that best adapts to his/her needs, interests and situation.

Another quality the mediator must have is cooperation. Sometimes professionals make demands that do not correspond to the mediator. The mediator must reframe its approach and adjust to the multiple possibilities it offers, proposing actions that favor cooperation between professional services and the immigrant group. 

The mediator is not an activist or a defender of immigrant’s rights. He/she must adapt and try to bring positions of the parties in conflict closer. He/she must not remain in a “neutral” position, bolster and channel the aggrieved party to the existing support networks it its community. The mediator cannot present himself/herself before the parties in a confusing way. He/she must reveal the interest of being accepted as a third party among two. He/she must know how to clearly express his/her duties and limitations, never giving the impression of being the solution to the problem.

4.3.4 Objectives of the inter-cultural mediation

Favor an education in and for cultural diversity from the equality, respect and diversity.

  • Collaborate in the development of attitudes, conducts and social changes that reject cultural discrimination and develop positive relationships between cultures.
  • Promote intercultural programs including different cultures to make understanding and dialogue between them easier.
  • Cooperate in sign language, oral and written, which respects all cultures and avoids stereotypes and prejudices.
  • Transmit positive messages in favor of multi-cultural cohabitation and diversity.
  • Divulge immigrant’s cultural values and its contributions to the foster society.
  • Favor cohabitation, prevent and resolve intercultural conflicts.
  • Facilitate the teacher’s training in the intercultural field.
  • Cooperate in the organization of activities that allow and stimulate respect and diversity.
  • Encourage teachers to be the diffusing channels of intercultural attitudes and values.
  • Cooperate in the preparation of programs to improve school performance of foreign students.
  • Encourage activities for students of the same center to get to know each other.
  • Encourage the social-educational development of foreign students in school centers.
  • Promote the coordination between school centers as regards the educational attention of foreign students.
  • Contribute to the awareness of foreign parents as regards the learning of the two official languages of the Community of Valencia.
  • Encourage the participation of the parents of foreign students in the center’s School Board, the Parents’ Associations, the Students’ Associations, etc.
  • Encourage joint activities between the sectors of the educational community.
  • Cooperate in the inter-cultural actions developed from the Local Administrations and Non-profit Entities..
  • Inventory of the bibliography and resources regarding the immigrant student’s educational and intercultural attention, as well as having an infographic list of Internet addresses.
  • Prepare a list of the most frequent demands, by the centers as well as by users (students, families, institutions, etc.), to provide information and define action guidelines.
  • Know the centers that develop programs, projects or actions of educational compensation with foreign students, to provide appropriate answers to the different situations.

4.3.5 The mediation process: phases and recommendations

The mediator must always take into account the aspects as regards communication (such as the non-verbal language, calibration, synchronization, etc.) and aspects regarding its position as “third of two” (feedback to both parties, time for translation – interpretation, not supplant, or identify themselves as, none of the parties, not intervene between the parties, etc.)

In the first phase, presentation, he/she must have “previous meetings with both”; prepare the “environmental framework” through physical space and the furniture distribution, etc; introduce the parties, specifying who is who and the purpose of each; establish the “rules of the game”; and parties must express their interests / objectives (what they expect from the mediation process).

In the second phase known as knot, they must concentrate specifically on the relationship between the parties; bring out the information from both parties; assure the cooperation of both; balance the participation and the intervention periods according to the characteristics and needs of the parties; verify that the understanding and interpretation by the parties is correct; reformulate positions, exposing what is negotiable and not; help to state common interests; and help to identify alternatives and options; as well as its consequences, for obtaining a positive result for both parties (so both feel satisfied).

The third and last phase, outcome, the mediator must express the synthesis of the process until then, and verify the correct understanding of the alternatives proposed by the three parties; he/she must invite to reach agreements and decisions that guarantee compliance; and seal agreements visibly, through signs or symbols.

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