Friday 3rd June, 2005


A lesson in mediation

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Michael Phillips

By Sherwin Long

Champion cyclist Michael Phillips went out of his way on Wednesday to demonstrate conflict resolution skills to a teenage girl.

Speaking at San Juan Secondary Comprehensive’s packed auditorium to students of the school and San Juan Government Secondary, Phillips imparted advice to the vocal youngster.

On the topic of bullying, Phillips advised students not to take matters into their own hands and instead contact their teachers, principal or the police.

“What if you go to your teachers, the principal or the police and they don’t do anything?” the San Juan Secondary Comprehensive student asked.

“Then you might have to take matters into your own hands,” she added.

“If they can’t be saved that doesn’t mean you can’t show them courtesy,” Phillips replied. “It is never the smart thing to guff up and fight. It is best to get away from (that).”

He advised the students always to find a peaceful way to resolve conflict and related an experience of four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon.

Philips said Boldon was driving his car one day and was the recipient of a “bad drive.”

Phillips said Boldon blew his horn and the offending driver slowed down.

When Boldon confronted the driver, the man drew a gun and Ato drove off in a hurry.

Phillips, who is also an artist and Beacon Insurance’s PRO, used this example to show how easily life could be lost.

Apart from conflict resolution, he also gave his perspective on life’s challenges such as peer pressure, drug abuse and lack of self-confidence.

Commenting on drug use, Phillips said, “It is always easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’ but consequences of saying ‘yes’ are always higher.”

Phillips also warned the students about the pitfalls of being free-spending consumers.

He said too much attention was paid to brand-name products.

Recalling the story of a man he saw buying a pair of $1,100 sneakers, Phillips said the purchase was a liability as it lost its value from the first day it was worn.

He cautioned against this.

“His entire identity was on his feet,” Phillips said.

“He lost sight that his name is supposed to mean something.”

He urged the students to take pride in their names and to start exercising character.

Phillips, who attended Mucurapo Junior Secondary, admitted that he was still nervous when speaking publicly.

However, he said fear was something everyone had to overcome.

On the topic of public speaking, Phillips also instructed students to speak proper “corporate” English as it would help give them edge on the job market.

While ending his hour-long lecture, he said instead of citizens only giving their views on what is going wrong they should do something about the problems.

Phillips’ lecture to the students was part of the Guardian in Education project’s Making a Difference school tour.

After his lecture, Salome Solomon of San Juan Government Secondary and San Juan Secondary Comprehensive’s Melissa Trim were presented with career handbooks for their school libraries.




©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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