I have a dream…
said once a well known
in his speech
I also have a dream…
of contributing to
the world I want to live in
I mourn over broken relationships
over trust lost to distrust, to despair
and over love turned into hatred
Someone has said
that hatred is only
love that has gone astray 
And I so much want
to tie together
what is broken to a whole
I would like to be part of
When trust is restored
and reconciliation can take place
The road there
just seem to me
so tremblingly frail
If I dare to walk
it will be in the awareness of
that I need not be
the solution itself
only a part
of a bigger picture
Like the piece in a puzzle
seemingly difficult to place
Which would still be missed in the whole
And I am not alone
We are many who share a dream
of a better world
During seven months, I have attended a course in mediating in conflicts based on Nonviolent Communication. The mediation programme, organized by Friare Liv (http://www.friareliv.se/en/) has been held four times with three days in a row. In addition to that we have all practiced in two small groups, one that has met at six occasions and another that have practiced every two week in a telephone conference.
On Saturday, May 20, 2017, the morning of the last course day, I read this poem and played the song Si by the French artist ZAZ. It was this very song and the experiences from the mediation programme that inspired me to write the poem.
-How much will I be able to speak if I do the whole Duolingo course in German?
My previous knowledge from the evening course in German 1983-84 was since long forgotten and when using a Univerb CD and book course in 2015, I mostly listened and seldom opened the book.
Before going to Germany on May 3, 2017, I actually did all the exercises and reached a level of 35% fluency according to the Duolingo application.
The greatest advantage with Duolingo is, in my point of view, to get a sense of the order of words in a sentence. The vocabulary increases of course too. I wasn’t however that accustomed in creating my own phrases and started to do it on my own out of situations in my daily life before the trip. Duolingo is for me a bit like listening to music and singing along, knowing all of the text by heart. Ask me to sing the same song without the help of hearing it simultaneously and I will know perhaps about half of the text by heart.
Looking back now at my seven days in Berlin, I did feel more at ease speaking. It still happened that I needed to change to English, however less often than in my week there in 2015.
Writing produces an imprint in the brain and as I often wrote the same faulty sentence AGAIN (how irritating!) I started to sometimes copy the correct answer from up in the top of the window by writing it accordingly. Thus my 35% of fluency needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Using Duolingo this time intensively for a month I was very content with the practicality of the application. It is easy to use and as the exercises only takes about 5-10 minutes, it is easy to keep up the continuity of training.
Yet, there are things I would like to find and this is therefore my wish lists for future updates:
Technical related wish list:
Ability to see the amount of exercises I’ve made in a day. No matter how many exercises done, the application only shows “Practice complete +10XP”.
Ability to save phrases in order to create my very personal phrase book.
A possibility to choose the amount of repetitions that shows for each day. Getting 25 new every day was stressful. Perhaps though, this might be due to the amount of exercises I had done the previous day?
When having finished a repetition, it sometimes takes a about 10 seconds before the color change to orange and the text “No more week words/Strength full” shows. This could perhaps be my phone being slow.
Language related wish list
A module with pure grammar information in order to get the bigger picture of a language once in a while. I especially missed that in the beginning.
A part of this grammar module would be a table with the auxiliary verbs, to be, to have etc
Orderly exercises corresponding to this grammar module. With this I mean sentences being in the order of I, You, He/She/It, We, you, They. As this suggestion might be what many like least with language learning (plodding through, just like in school) it could be a bonus skill for nerds who want to dive deeper, just like the exercises “flirting” and “idioms”.
When studying French, a decade ago, there was a vocabulary test, Maximots, built by a professor at Stockholm University on the 1600+ most used words. I’d be delighted to find a similar option also in Duolingo.
I have often had a good laughter by some of the sentences, especially in the Danish course. Some of my favorites are: The squirrel is our captain, the ants import rye bread, I am the queen of France, and Why does the bear conduct the orchestra? In the same time, I really don’t know when I would use them. And, Good Heavens, what would an answer be if I did?
New languages wish list
Some years ago, I fell in love with the Breton language and in 2014, I went on a five days’ language course in Brittany.
According to UNESCO, the Breton is a severely endangered language with an estimate of only 250 000 speakers
The Duolingo newsletter of May 18, 2017 tells a hopeful story of another endangered Celtic language, the Irish. With only 44000 speakers it is classed by UNESCO as “Definitely endangered” and now “3 million people are learning Irish with Duolingo” 
What an advantage! Except for the opportunity in learning new languages, the Duolingo application is also contributing to save endangered languages. How many more can be saved? What about being able to learn as well e.g. Sami languages and Occitan?
My first wish is to soon find Breton as one of your courses. With the facility of the Duolingo application more people would have the possibility to learn Breton, thus helping also this language to stay alive.
Face to face with a person in need, I often tend to immediately react to that need. This reactivity of mine has also been pointed out to me a few times “That someone needs your help does not necessarily mean you need to do it right away” and “Hey, just because I mentioned what needs to be done, it is not necessarily YOU who need to do it. I am also here, you know…”
What is this urgent need in me to FIX, to SOLVE?
A friend of mine called it “Identification”, identifying with the other and thinking it is my responsibility to solve the other person’s dilemma. I have started to think of it as codependency.
A while ago, I attended a conference about empathy. The speaker indicated how fixing or solving is to protect the other person from his/her own development also quoting a saying: “No true transformation without suffering”. In a way, fixing the situation for the other or telling him/her what to do is, if we bring matters to a head, to try to steal away the self-power and initiative from the other. We all have our very personal way to walk. To put one self in the shoes of the other is NOT to be understood literally, it is only meant as a way for our imagination, helping us having an empathic understanding of the other person’s situation.
So what is empathy? Well, I know what it is not: When identifying, I lose the border between myself and the other. My lack of integrity makes me vulnerable and leads me down into the other person’s pain. I start to feel the same feeling.
In a booklet, Getting past the pain between us, Marshall Rosenberg compares empathy to surfing as it is a question of following the other person’s energy, like if the state of mind of the person being listened to, is a wave to surf on.
If I take this picture of empathy being like surfing a bit further on, surfing is about following the wave ON the board, not diving into the water. The surfing board can thus be a picture for my integrity, keeping myself intact instead of diving into identifying.
One thing Marshall Rosenberg says, that I find very challenging, is that empathy requires “learning how to enjoy another person’s pain”.
Well, maybe it is the fact of us not identifying and taking the responsibility for the other person’s case, the fact of instead just BEING THERE for the other, to know that I can be a space for the other to rest in for a while, a support, like a mirror of warm attention to the other person to look in where he or she can find clarity by being heard and rephrased in order to find his/her own solutions.
Rephrasing is something that has not come natural for me until now. As I am discovering it, using it more and more, I begin to believe that it helps me to “stay on the surfboard”, i.e. helping me staying intact by reflecting back instead of identifying.
One of the most challenging things for me to hear is when someone expresses a feeling of hopelessness and I’m not sure of having ever had the strength to rephrase back this feeling. To put these very words into my own mouth has seemed to me like I would surrender to the feeling of hopelessness. Yet, surrender is exactly what I have been doing when my conditioned reflex has made me try to solve the situation for the other. Identifying and taking responsibility in codependency is an obvious way to drown myself in the other persons feeling.
Is this maybe my turning point?
What if reflecting back the other persons feeling with my own words is not only helping him or her to see in the mirror of warm attention but also the way for me to abandon codependency. And a way to start living empathy.
 Rosenberg, 2005, Getting past the pain between us, p 8