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Posted on Jun 7, 2013 in Church, Student Spotlights

Student Holds Workshop for University Ministers

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Anna Jane Perrey grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a degree in Organizational Communication.  After selling Real Estate for two years, she and her husband, Chris moved to England to serve the church for two years. Anna Jane has worked for ACU since February 2009 and currently serves as Ministry Events Coordinator.  Anna Jane is pursuing a masters degree from ACU in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation and is slated to graduate in December 2013.

As part of her practicum project, Anna Jane held a conflict resolution workshop for university and campus ministers in Abilene, Texas on April 27, 2013. The goal of the workshop was to equip ministers to lead their university students through the growth that conflict can bring. Specifically, Anna Jane highlighted the importance of face-to-face interactions and managing difficult conversations. After receiving high praise from the ministers that attended the workshop, we caught up with Anna Jane to hear more about her experience in the masters program and her practicum project, in particular.

How has your experience in the Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation program changed you?

It has certainly made me more aware of my online presence and how what I type can be taken depending on the reader.  I also feel like I am more aware of conflicts around me and the factors that contribute to them or mitigate them.  I often find myself thinking about the words that I say and the manner with which I say them.  Do the things I say and actions I take contribute to peace?   How can I use the knowledge I have gained to bring both justice and mercy to the world around me?

Briefly describe your workshop.

I created a booklet and workshop for university ministers on how to understand and deal with conflict amongst their university students.  The workshop involved the presentation of research, education of the process of mediation, a mediation role-play, education on issues and interest, and several university-student-based scenarios that we were able to talk through as a group applying some of the principles we had just learned.

What needs did you see that your workshop addressed?

Well, in general, university age students are not great at handling conflict, they either avoid it or deal with it on Facebook or Twitter.  People are afraid of conflict and I saw a need to take some of the fear away and emphasize the importance of dealing with it.

How did you prepare for your workshop?

I interviewed a group of students from several Abilene congregations’ university groups, then followed up with some individual interviews and written interviews.  I asked questions like “How do you feel about conflict?”  “Why are we afraid of dealing with conflict?”  “How has social media affected how you deal with conflict?”  “How would you want a third party to help you through a conflict?”  I also interviewed several of Abilene Christian University’s Residence and Housing Directors.  I wanted to get their perspective as they deal with student conflict on a weekly basis.  I was curious about their process and their observations.  Once I compiled, and transcribed these interviews, I was then able to determine what would help my ministers the most.  Based on what the students said, teaching their ministers the process of mediation would prove the most helpful when having to help the students work through conflict.

What do you plan to do with your workshop materials in the future?

I would love to be able to present it again for other university ministers.  I would also love to make the book resource that I wrote something that people can utilize whether they attend the workshop or not.  There is a lot that can be done toward improving how students can interact with each other.  This material, though presented to university  ministers, can be easily adapted toward other people that work with university aged students.  I would love to pursue conflict in the university setting a little more some day.

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