Ten Years After the War
Kosovar Serbs and Albanians meet, on film, ten years after the Kosovo War to discuss the legacy of the conflict. The resulting documentary may be one of the best introductions to the process of dialogue that's out there.
Directed by Jon Haukeland and featuring Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue (NCPD) facilitator Steinar Bryn, "Reunion: Ten Years After The War" was a crucial element of the summer school experience.
Gathered in a small theatre in Lillehammer, we watch Reunion: Ten Years After the War. This is my second time – the first was in a Saint Petersburg basement where I first came to know about the NCPD.

In the leadup to the NATO bombings in Kosovo, the NCPD organized dialogue sessions between Kosovar Serbs and Albanians in order to restore points of contact between leaders, businesspeople and students on both sides of the ethnic divide. This was in hope of resisting the 'parallel realities' that were emerging in the region.

These parallel realities are created when different cultural groups, often with ethnic differences, begin creating and consuming cultural content (news, books, events) that excludes the other side, their history and their narratives. When this separation happens, the likelihood of conflict increases. Dialogue is a technique that seeks to resist this tendency.
What is Dialogue?
Dialogue seeks to understand, not to convince.
As compared to debate, where parties try to 'defeat' each other, dialogue is a process where success is defined by coming to a deeper understanding of the other side, their motives and their narrative.

Dialogue facilitators can help with this by posing questions or designing exercies meant to broaden understanding and avoid accusations or blame-gaming.
Dialogue is based on mutual respect
Mutual understanding is often impossible without some degree of openness and vulnerability, and the parties in a dialogue process cannot open up without there being a base level of respect.

Dialogue facilitators must create a safe space and enforce the principles of respect on all sides. This is difficult particularly in post-conflict situations, where participants have sometimes suffered greatly as a result of war, discrimination or genocide.
Dialogue requires active listening
One of the ways to encourage someone else to listen to your side of the story is to listen to them. This involves not only listening to what is said, but processing the feelings and needs behind someone's stated position.

Dialogue facilitators often act as interpreters, translating or rephrasing accusations or harsh words so that the underlying feelings and needs can be revealed and discussed openly.
Reunion tells the story of one of the last groups to be brought together by the NCPD before the bombs started falling. Director Jon Haukeland contacted the surviving members of this dialogue group and, ten years after the conflict ended, brought them together again to discuss the legacy of the war.

During the first dialogue process, Kosovar Serbs held more cultural and political power than the Kosovar Albanians, but the positions had shifted in the decade since. Kosovar Albanians, now a majority in a de facto state, hold more power than the remaining Kosovar Serbs. The participants, many of which had never seen the others in the past ten years, were forced to confront these changes and process the new status quo in their nation.

For many, 'dialogue' seems too abstract a concept to imagine. In Reunion, we see a living example of conflict, communication, friendship and the complications that come with being forced to choose a side when the bombs start falling. A highly recommended introduction to the dialogue process, as well as for anyone looking to explore how we do or don't talk to each other in moments of profound crisis.
Dialogue is a complicated procedure – hearing about it is not enough. Seeing it with our own eyes helps us understand the nuances of the process.

While the conflicts in your life may not resemble the case in Kosovo, the questions these participants ask are universal. No matter if you're working with gang members, culturally divided communities or even armed groups, the example in Reunion of the NCPD has much to teach and illuminate.
Jon Haukeland is a Norwegian filmmaker. He released "Reunion: Ten Years After The War" in 2011

Steinar Bryn is a dialogue practitioner featured in "Reunion." He, along with the NCPD, have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Josh Nadeau is a writer and dialogue practitioner. In June 2018 he participated in the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue summer school.