Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 1st 2015 Contents 10 UWI TODAY – SUNDAY 1st NOVEMBER, 2015
at the table
Adding to the discourse of other great Caribbean
thinkers, conference presenters from Barbados,
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, joined minds
and gave insights into a vast array of subject
matters related to the discipline of Human
Communication and featured academia, public
sector and private sectors for this 2nd biennial
Among other topics, it examined issues
such as identity and fandom in an online
football community (Dr Kathy-Ann Drayton),
the representation of national culture in the
public websites and repositories managed by
agencies such as NALIS (Revelino Guevara and
Dr. Prahalad Sooknanan) and the influence of
the Disney channel on the identity of adolescent
girls (Casey Pereira-Smart and Dr Prahalad
Sooknanan). This research was on the Media,
Culture and Society panel.
The Disney research looked at the channel’s
contribution to the identity development of
nine to 12 year-old girls in Trinidad and Tobago
by examining content of its selected television
programmes. The football fandom research was
connected to the quest for identity and explored
the virtual communities shared by fans forming
a network based on a common social identity.
The Interpersonal/Family Communication
panel shared research on the communication
challenges and experiences of families who are
geographically separated (Maxine Maxwell) and
compared the influence of face-to-face and online
counselling on communication in the families of
alcoholics (Anisa Hasanali).
The Health and Risk Communication I
panel celebrated the Green Market and the
communication strategies used to promote
a green and sustainable lifestyle (Ryan
Jaggernauth), traced the public education and
communication efforts of the UWI Seismic
Research Centre (Omari Graham), and analysed
the marketing communication strategies used in
sugar sweetened beverages and their contribution
to discourse on obesity in point of purchase
communication (Chinyere Roberts and Dr.
Godfrey A. Steele).
The parallel panel, Organizational and
Corporate Communications I, featured
relationships among democratic and autocratic
leadership styles, communication competence
and subordinate responses (Donneyal Farray), and
an example of internal communications research
which studied the efficacy of communication
modes used to engage employees (Wynell
The Organizational and Corporate
Communications II Special Professional panel
was well-received and generated much discussion
among younger communication professionals
and their more experienced colleagues.
Wynell Gregorio is Manager of Marketing & Communications at the Marketing & Communications Office, UWI St. Augustine.
innovations in research, products and services to the world.
Calling on great Caribbean theorists and thinkers who went
before like Rex Nettleford, Roderick Sanatan and Stuart
Hall, he urged the crowd of Communicators, Marketers,
Researchers and other professionals in the field to tell
our own stories and not allow them to be told by others.
Theories of cultural and media imperialism he said were all
offered from the North and as Caribbean people, we have
the knowledge, the skill and the capacity to present from
our points of view.
Peter Neptune, Corporate Transformation and
Communications Consultant, spoke on defending the brand
and what accounts for good branding using examples from
industry. He cited research that shows that brands that
communicate frequently with their stakeholders “are more
easily trusted, benefit from goodwill from investors, perform
better in their markets, have more loyal customers and are
more connected to their communities.”
Yolande Agard-Simmons, Manager Corporate
Communications in the Ministry of Trade and Industry,
addressed developing one’s personal brand and image as
a brand ambassador, investing in self, and maintaining
Your brand exists in the public’s mind; it is all about
perception and you must recognises its importance. Zero
in on the attributes that you want to define you and invest
in developing that brand, was her take.
Daniel Plenty, Senior Manager, Corporate
Communications, Water and Sewerage Authority, discussed
the role of the communication professional in decision-
making in an organization. He asked some key questions
for organisations to consider in ascertaining what that role
should be for them.
“How high in the organizational structure should the
communications practitioner be positioned?” he asked, as
he wondered if it should be at the highest decision-making
HUMAN COMMUNICATION STUDIES CONFERENCE REPORT
Dr Tara Wilkinson McClean of The UWI, Cave
Hill applied communication and gender perspectives
to examine male masculinities as reflected in popular
male lifestyle magazines in Barbados and Paula Thomas
reported her findings on the potential influence of teacher
attire on students in secondary schools, in the panel on
Communication, Culture and Gender.
Using a clip from Alicia Keys’ “I don’t know your
name,” Amanda Lewis examined the influence of popular
love songs on young adult romantic relationships on the
Political and Rhetorical/Influential Communication panel.
This presentation generated discussion on male and female
experiences and interpretations of the role of imagined
On the Health and Risk Communication II Special
Professional panel, Carlon Kirton, Communications
Manager at the Caribbean Regional Health Agency
(CARPHA), and Yvonne Lewis, Director, Health Education
Division in the Ministry of Health addressed regional
and national issues in Chikungunya public health
communication activities and strategies.
Dr Godfrey A. Steele shared insights into research on
media coverage and patterns of reporting of the 2013-2014
outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa.
For more on the conference presentations,
please go to https://sta.uwi.edu/conferences/15/
For more on the opening plenary, keynote address,
pictures and social media, please visit https://sta.uwi.edu/
Dr. Kathy-Ann Drayton’s football fandom research was connected to
the quest for identity and explored the virtual communities shared by
fans forming a network based on a common social identity.
PHOTO: RYAN DURGASINGH
Keynote speaker, Professor Hopeton Dunn, Director of CARIMAC
at the Mona Campus, spoke on Cultural Resilience and Globalization
from within. PHOTO: ATIBA CUDJOE
SUNDAY 1ST NOVEMBER, 2015 – UWI TODAY 15
Dara Wilkinson Bobb is a parttime assistant lecturer in The Writing Centre of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, UWI St. Augustine.
A disruptive family is one that fails to meet the basic needs
of one or more of its members. The Mediation Unit at The
UWI, St. Augustine, has introduced imaginative role-play
using stuffed toys and animals to help families resolve their
Programme Co-ordinator for the Mediation Unit of
the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ann Diaz, discussed some
approaches to repairing rifts in families through mediation
at the Family Mediation Conference held in October.
According to Diaz, family mediation is a true solution
for families in crisis. It is a process in which a mediator
facilitates the resolution of a dispute by gaining voluntary
agreement. The UWI’s Mediation Unit has adopted a peace
agenda as it relates to families.
“We want to work through difficult situations,” says
Diaz. “We want to assist in communication. We want to
encourage understanding. We want to generate and explore
Diaz indicates that getting to family peace requires
getting to a response designed to curb those elements that
“Parties navigate the process through dialogue... The
family mediator does not decide what the settlement is. They
work with families to come to a place where they decide on
Indeed, the predicament of the family at the point of
intervention through mediation can be quite grave in some
cases. Diaz points out that sometimes when things break
down, you find yourself looking at dividing all the things
you have acquired all those years – the division of assets –
The Family Peace Plan
More than child’s play
and it hits you that this is it... it is all finished.
This is where Mediation Counselling steps in. This is
where a teddy bear can become a tiny hero.
Formally called The Family Peace Plan, this type of
mediation is a process of resolving conflict which allows
families to refocus their attention using stuffed toys. The
concept combines Harvey Jenkins’ re-evaluation techniques,
as well as person-focused intervention and solution-centred
The toys allow distraction from the person and so
reduce hostility and enable sharing in a safe environment
without the fear of direct insults, says Diaz. This approach
helps to insulate the relationship against the arrows of anger
which may further damage the relationship beyond repair.
Pain is channeled as animals are used to tell the stories
of the clients. Further, this enables persons to better listen
and hear the issues because they do not feel directly targeted.
According to Diaz, some persons feel they have stopped
communicating when they stop speaking, but withholding
speech in this way actually communicates your story in a
very amplified manner. She says, “When you say you are
not speaking, you are speaking very loudly.”
This type of impasse fails to be productive in the search
for a positive resolution. If we remain in a polarized mode,
there is little opportunity for dialogue and resolution, says
Diaz. A distraction is needed.
“The toy actually is a distraction from the prospect of
the conflict,” she says.
Diaz indicates that the initiative is getting buy-in
because people in conflict take any opportunity to look for
a resolution. She says that so far it is actually working with
middle-income families very successfully.
Other indicators of success are client satisfaction
and client adherence to the resolutions. In Ann Diaz’s
experience, sometimes without the mediation process, if
an agreement is made, people will not stick to it because
perhaps they do not feel heard nor feel that their issues have
been justly addressed.
Ann Diaz was also careful to answer concerns that
mediators who were not trained counsellors might be
trespassing into the territory of counselling. She says that
the individuals who seek help have their own opportunity to
work through their own issues. The mediators use solution-
focused, person-centred strategies, but ultimately, it seems,
do not tell the clients what to do. As a whole, too, mediators
are usually drawn from persons with a background in the
social sciences, but only mediators that already have a
background in counselling are advised to use it.
They explain to the subjects why the toys are used, and
that the purpose is to reduce and deflect conflict.
There is a wide assortment of stuffed toys and toy
animals. The participants are asked to choose one, and
then asked why they chose the one they did. Usually, a
characteristic of the toy seems to speak to their situation.
This innovative means of intervention is an initiative
of The Mediation Unit of the UWI St. Augustine. It was
one focus of the Family Mediation Conference produced
in conjunction with the Mediation Board of Trinidad and
Tobago in October.
BY DARA WILKINSON BOBB
This type of mediation is a process of resolving conflict which
allows families to refocus their attention using stuffed toys.
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