Meet Mbali, a high school student from Fairfax County. She interned with NVMS Conflict Resolution Center as part of her community service requirement before graduation. Mbali participated in the Bridging Communities: Community Peacebuilding Training in May and June, 2023. Below, read a letter of support that she wrote for NVMS at the conclusion of her internship. 

To Whom It May Concern: 
My name is Mbali Ndebele and I am a high school student from Fairfax County who has been working as an intern for Northern Virginia Mediation Services (NVMS). I am writing to you in support of this organization.
I had the opportunity to participate in their training for Bridging Communities and Engaging Conflict. In this training program, participants had the chance to engage in discussions and learning exercises that promoted dialogue around conflict resolution and conflict in communities. Participants of this program were involved in interactive and group activities that helped them gain a better understanding of what causes conflict and build communications skills within a group of diverse individuals.”
After participating in the Bridging Communities training program, I walked away with more knowledge about how people engage in conflict and how I can be a catalyst for change using conflict resolution tools. Through collaborative activities, I learned about conflict management styles and how my own conflict management style manifests itself in different areas of my life. I also learned that there are a variety of roles that people can play as mediators during conflicts in their daily lives. I was inspired by seeing that I can use what I learned about conflict and mediation to navigate my own interpersonal relationships and the larger community around me.
Young people would benefit from participating in training programs like this one because it builds valuable skills they can carry into their future careers and interpersonal relationships. Bridging Communities teaches people how to improve their relationships and their communities by utilizing communication and listening skills. Participants are taught how to be receptive to other people’s perspectives and be open to learning from them. Participants also learn the importance of teamwork and achieving a common goal. Young people would benefit from learning these skills that lead to having positive, more satisfying relationships in their lives. They get to listen to innovative ideas and generate new ways to solve problems. They would learn to express their own opinions and accept others, and practice assertiveness and fairness. Furthermore, collaborative training exercises inspire youth to commit to strengthening bonds in their local neighborhoods. 
As a young person who had the chance to work with NVMS, I have seen that Bridging Communities can help youth improve their quality of life. I urge you to support this program because young people must learn the tools to navigate conflict and practice conflict resolution early on in their lives. By becoming equipped with these tools as adolescents, they can grow into responsible adults that can lead their communities and live more fulfilling lives.


Mbali Ndebele

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