Jo Berry was honoured to take part in a workshop in Eastern Ukraine with participants from Russia and Ukraine. This opportunity came from the extraordinary time at Global Youth Rising 2016 in Romania. She shared her story and then answered questions from the participants who were very interested in the process of transforming pain and how empathy can be a useful tool. As young people they were born into a hugely difficult complex situation yet were there to explore how they could bring dialogue into their communities. The inspirational Maria Abyzova was responsible for Jo’s contribution and all the translation. In her words,
‘It was in the context of Ukrainian-Russian youth dialogue about conflict in Eastern Ukraine. 5 first days we struggled to hear each other but often could not help blaming, denial and defensive trends. The process was challenging and authentic.
On the fifth day I invited Jo to share her story and experience of empathy. That session was one of the things that changed our group dynamics. After the skype call we had a dialogue session again. But this time it was not about talking, and not even about listening, it was about being together and sharing our common tragedy.
I won’t lie here that the following days were easy, we disagreed a lot, explored the issue, our limits and our empathy capacities’