Pay It Forward

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Pay It Forward

“Why did you chose to participate in the Conflict Resolution course and share something about yourself that is unique to you?” My response was received with laughter, “I am participating in this course so that I can change the divorce rate in our country by 4% and something that I am sure very few if anyone has ever done besides myself is… I performed the wedding ceremony of my x-wife when she married her next husband.”

After reading “The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews I created a plan to change the divorce rate in our country by 4%. Why would anyone trust me with their marriage and family? Upon asking this question, I felt it necessary to gain a tool set that would provide security to those seeking guidance to save their marriage and family.

A frustration that I had heard from several friends in the counseling industry is that their aspiration to help people had been stifled by the need to document the process in order to get paid by insurance companies. Upon my research I discovered Conflict Resolution. It sounded like the definition of marriage, families and life… conflict resolution.

Conflict Resolution is a post graduate course taught at the University of Utah. I was experiencing conflict myself that needed resolution. I wasn’t a graduate and I didn’t have the tuition necessary to participate in the program. As I later learned in Conflict Resolution it would require that I think of a NEW solution, something I had never thought of before.

I submitted my “life experience” application with the required references and a $50 check for approval. Upon approval I was faced with the conflict of a two semester tuition of three thousand dollars. My father a supporter of continued education provided me with an unofficial  scholarship to participate in the Conflict Resolution Certificate Program at the University of Utah, currently being taught by Carolynn Clark.

In the first hour of the first class I learned to my utter surprise that giving advice was unethical in conflict resolution. My first thought was how useless this program is going to be as I felt it would be necessary to dispense advice to marriages and families in order to change the divorce rate in our country by 4%. The professor asked us to reflect upon all the amazing advice we had so freely provided friends, family, and colleagues. Many of my classmates including myself felt like people sought our advice as if possessing some god given gift . Even these moments when advice was solicited were being challenged when we were asked to think of the actual times when our advice had been taken. Think about it… friends, family and colleagues often want to share their problems and after hours of listening, sharing experiences and providing your wisdom to your friend, family member and/or colleague more often than not they proceed to resolve their conflict in the way they had planned on before seeking your attention and advice.

During the two semesters of training I quickly learned the value of not providing advice, but the value of asking questions that might lead the seeker of advice to solve their own problem.  A solution they can get behind, a new solution of their own creation.

As any great education should, Conflict Resolution became a part of my everyday life. As was predicted by the professor, the tuition was reimbursed through its real world implementation of resolving conflicts, pay raise negotiations, divorce proceedings, and parenting, etc.

Connect52 is a direct result of the Conflict Resolution education I received and I felt the desire to give back to the program, bring awareness of its benefits and pay it forward to another student who has a similar desire to make the world a better place with the tool-set of Conflict Resolution.

So it is with great humility and truly in the spirit of “Paying it Forward” I am proud to provide the first Connect52 scholarship to Asia Dutson… Asia has tremendous “life experience”. In an effort to give back to the University of Utah Conflict Resolution program and bringing awareness of its benefits, Asia will be sharing with the Connect52 audience her experiences with Conflict Resolution and how the tool set can help transform relationships of all shapes and sizes.

“Who am I?  Deep humans we are.  It’s as simple and complex as that.  I’m a woman of experience, a student of life, who has chosen mediation training to help others in conflict; which, as a divorced mother of six children, doesn’t seem all that foreign. I appreciate adventure, and understand that it means more than just thrill seeking. I am accomplished, creative, healthy and authentic. I enjoy being active, love to travel and savor Indian food.  Animals and music ground me and I will stop to catch a sunrise any time I can.  I’m a jewelry artist and silversmith who volunteers with therapy horses and reveres nature.

Being able to skillfully implement Conflict Resolution as a refined practice appeals to me, because as a jewelry artist I’ve learned one can never have enough tools in their toolbox.  The nuances of human interaction often call for fine-tuning, and the right tool makes a huge difference.  It is through the eyes of conflict I have seen growth and change, and when knowledgeable mediation is added, dissonance can move towards harmony.

Paying it forward is one of my favorite moment magnifiers.  The mood shift is palpable when I’ve randomly given a barista extra money to buy the next few customer’s drinks, or bought lunch for the guy standing behind me.  People tune into this abundance factor, and I’ve watched others join the parade of forward-paying-goodness move positive energy far beyond its starting point. As the recipient of Connect52’s Conflict Resolution scholarship, I plan to keep the momentum of this blessing moving outward in a similar fashion. I would like to join Connect52 in offering financial help to future University of Utah applicants. This scholarship has made a direct impact on my financial ability to participate, and I am deeply grateful”

It was upon meeting with Asia and Carolynn Clark and mentally preparing to write this article and scholarship announcement that I realized that I wanted to “Pay it Forward” to my parents who provided me with the opportunity to receive one of life’s greatest educations. My parents have an amazing legacy of sacrifice… starting with providing for 6 children, taking on not one but several Laotian refugee families, and now in their 70’s volunteering of their time and talents as they mentor female inmates as they prepare to leave prison and re-enter society.
My parents have shared with me that rehabilitated inmates often struggle when released because they are not always received by family, friends and employers as rehabilitated. Inmates often return to society with unresolved conflicts. My parents received basic mediation training in order to learn how to ask questions of the inmates helping guide them to their own resolutions. In honor of my parents, in an attempt to create a program that will continue on their legacy and the benefits of Conflict Resolution, together we are creating a program in which past and present students of Conflict Resolution can volunteer of their time and talents to teach these inmates the tools and benefits of Conflict Resolution. They will role play the experiences that they are going to face upon their release from prison. Providing them with a tool-set for life, real world practice for success as they discover that there are always NEW solutions to life’s conflicts.

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