Common Bond Institute


Previous 2016 Program

International Conference on

Refugee Crisis in Europe and the Middle East:

“Sharing Tools for Humanitarian Response”

November 1-3, 2016 ~ Freiburg, Germany

~ Presenter Bios ~


Tuesday, November 1


Site: Merchant’s Hall
Münsterplatz 24, Freiburg, Germany

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: On-Site Registration & Check-in
3:00 pm – 9:00 pm

3:00 – 3:30 pm
Greeting and Announcements:
– Wolfgang Roth, PhD, Professor, Friends of Asylum Freiburg
– Ulrich Kirchbach, City of Freiburg Mayor

3:30 – 5:00 pm
Perspective on Refugee Situation and Humanitarian Responses in Middle East:
– Steve Olweean, MA, Director, Common Bond Institute (CBI)
– Ayat Nashwan, PhD, CBI Team Leader and Asst. Professor, Yarmouk University

5:30 – 7:00 pm
Perspective on Refugee Situation and Humanitarian Responses in Germany:
– Wolfgang Roth, PhD, Professor

7:30 – 8:30 pm
Topical Roundtable :
– Albert Scherr, PhD, Professor
– Hatice Hagar, MA,
– Steve Olweean, MA
Moderator: Eggert Blum

8:30 – 9:o0 pm
Overview of the Following 2-Day Working Conference, and Psycho-social Training:
– Steve Olweean, MA


Wednesday, November 2

Site: Goethe Gymnasium
Holzmarkt 5, D 79098, Freiburg, Germany

10:00 am – 6:30 pm


Brief Conference Check-In:
Setting the Frame for Working Together
10:00 – 10:15 am

10:15 – 11:15 am

“Nonviolent Communication: A Compassionate Way Of Living And Addressing Conflict – Important Tools in Uncertain Situations”
In a violent world, a violent phase of history, we need to rediscover our natural gifts: compassion, empathy and love. We are social creatures, we communicate (out of each 10 minutes we communicate 7 minutes). But, are we as good as we think? are we using this major gift properly all the time? Why do we often miscommunicate? why do conflict arise? why do we get violent? Non Violent Communication takes us back to the essentials: we all function to answer our needs, needs are not negative, not linked to others, they are universal. If we learn to value our needs, and those of others, through empathy and compassion, we become better communicators, and better resolve conflicts. Because our biases and our fear, won’t be leading us anymore, only or love and humanity. Get ready to become Giraffes after this session
Tanya Awad Ghorra, MBA


11:15 am – 12:15 pm

“Parenting Programs: An Essential Intervention Within A Refugee Community”
Parents are one of the most important providers of psychosocial intervention, support, and security to children in a crisis. The program presented is designed to help mothers in particular, as a central member in a family, to effectively reduce and manage their own pain from multiple trauma and develop effective parenting skills to help restore positive communication and emotional stability between mothers and children. It also promotes rebuilding positive connection among members of the refugee community itself and with the local community.
Ghalia Alasha, PhD

12:15 – 12:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

“ ‘I Cannot See a Future’ : Surviving Loss and Grief Day by Day“
Using examples from psychological self care workshops for Syrian INGO staff and conference participants’ own experience, this interactive workshop examines attachment and loss, with a particular focus on cultural idioms of distress and grieving, and the implications for the provision of emotional support for refugees.
Jane Gilbert M.A., M.Sc

Lunch Break
1:30 – 3:00 pm

3:00 – 4:30 pm

“Violence, Trauma, Displacement, and Gender”

Ayat Nashwan, PhD, Farha Abbasi, MD, Ghalia Alasha, PhD, Tanya Awad Ghorra, MBA,
Moderator: Steve Olweean, MA

4:30 – 4:45 pm

4:45 – 6:15 pm

“Psycho-social and Whole-Person Approaches for Healing Individual and Communal Trauma”

Myron Eshowsky, MA, Regina Weiser, PhD, Joachim Pfahl,
Moderator: Steve Olweean, MA


Brief Conference Check-In:
Summary of the 1st Working Day

6:15 – 6:30 pm


Thursday, November 3

9:30 am – 6:30 pm

(Farewell Dinner Party 7:00 – 10:00 pm)


9:30 – 11:00 am

“Self-Help and Mutual Support Coping Skills For Vulnerable Refugee Communities Under Stress”

Ghalia Alasha, PhD, Tanya Awad Ghorra, MBA, Johanna Dangel, Sophia Maier
Moderator: Steve Olweean, MA

11:00 – 11:15 am

11:15 – 12:45 pm

“Models, Policies, and Resources for Effective Healing, Recovery, Resettlement, and Integration”
Helmut Kury, PhD, Myron Eshowsky, MA, Hatice Hagar, MA,
Moderator: Steve Olweean, MA


Brief Conference Check-In:
Preparing for Action Planning

12:45 – 1:00 pm

Lunch Break
1:00 – 2:30 pm

Breakout Groups – H
Topical Dialogue and Action Planning
2:30 – 4:00 pm

4:00 – 4:15 pm

Reporting-In – Action Planning – Coalition Building – I
4:15 – 5:45 pm


Summary – Outcomes – Next Steps – Farewell – J
5:45 – 6:30 pm

~ Farewell Dinner Party ~
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
(a final time to break bread together)

Guidelines For Compassionate Dialogue:

The RC Conference strives to promote an inclusive, compassionate dialogue that honors different personal experiences, perspectives, and narratives, while allowing for better expressing and listening to each other as we work together toward understanding and harmony. Our intention is to create an open venue where we can engage meaningfully and invite in a public dialogue that brings our joint wisdom to bear in exploring sometimes difficult issues that effect us all. This is based on the premise that it does not require that we be the same to be appreciate of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.
We ask all participants to assist us by carrying and expressing this intent throughout the conference.

NonViolent Communication Guidelines (Adapted from Marshall Rosenberg):

Unique Assumptions—NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. It also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that all actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.

While NVC is much more than a communication model, the components below provide a structural concept of the process that leads to giving and receiving from the heart.

Honestly Expressing how I am and what I would like without using blame, criticism or demands

Empathically Receiving how another is and what he/she would like without hearing blame, criticism or demands

Whether expressing or receiving, NVC focuses our attention on four pieces of information:

1) Observations —Objectively describing what is going on without using evaluation, moralistic judgment, interpretation or diagnosis
2) Feelings —Saying how you feel (emotions and body sensations) about what you have observed without assigning blame
3) Needs —The basic human needs that are or not being met and are the source of feelings
4) Requests —Clear request for actions that can meet needs