Major in Psychology, Applied concentration
The B.E.S.T. way to build harmonious communities
Human relationships are complex, and as Applied Psychology student Simon Stankovich knows, harmony is a key component to building and maintaining healthy relationships with ourselves, others, and our environment.
Simon’s interest lies in helping communities thrive on healthy and non-violent forms of communication. This year, the B.E.S.T. Project Fund will allow him to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, to participate in an intensive residential training program in nonviolent communication.
“Nonviolent communication is a process in which you learn to think, listen and speak in a way that is authentic and compassionate,” explains Simon. “It’s a way to solve conflicts but also to come together and make decisions. It’s been used in peacemaking, education, psychotherapy, and interpersonal conflicts.”
The training will be given by the Center for Nonviolent Communication which will see students and professionals from all over the globe living and learning together for a common purpose: experiencing the process of nonviolent communication as a community.
“I believe this training is relevant because compassionate communication is essential for us to have an empowering sense of community,” says the 24-year-old. “We live in a democracy; everyone’s opinion is relevant. Without an absolute authority, it has become easier to disconnect from each other and retreat into our own perspective. That’s why I find it important to harmonize the communication process. That way, we are able to share with others a sense of meaning and belonging.”
Simon’s studies and practicum at Bishop’s have allowed him to get a glimpse of the challenges facing individuals and society when it comes to communication. “Small communities are decreasing in number in our society; we are becoming more individualistic. I want to work in nature-based therapeutic communities like the one I worked in last summer. This particular organization used community living and working on an organic farm as therapeutic tools for those struggling with addiction and homelessness. The nonviolent communication workshop will give me the skills I will need to go into these therapeutic communities and facilitate everyday life issues such that the participants learn how conflict and compassionate confrontation are opportunities for personal and community growth.”
One of the main objectives of nonviolent communication is to teach people to connect with another person’s needs in an authentic way. As Simon points out, “When you connect with someone else’s needs, you develop empathy and understanding, and it’s much easier to find a consensus in a group.”
“This workshop will be a huge leverage point for me and my future work,” says Simon. “Right now I am considering to obtain my master’s degree in community psychology and work in a therapeutic community afterwards.”
Simon’s project will surely have a ripple effect that will be felt for years to come. “This workshop will help me change the way I think and communicate. It will permeate every aspect of my life because whatever I do is connected to something else. And the way that I communicate in a relationship is essential.”