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Contemporary societies are characterised by the spatial and social co-existence of different ethnic communities. Because native populations live side by side with migrant populations and ethnic minorities, there is high risk that conflicts and social exclusion may arise, thus calling for the implementation of conflict resolution measures. Mediation, as a process of conflict resolution, takes place through the promotion of dialogue and the creation of common ground. Then, cultural mediation is a form of mediation between two or more disputing parties that are presumed as having different cultures which, in a way, are responsible for conflict creation.

The Cultural Mediator is a third party that tries to resolve cultural conflicts by bridging and promoting communication, reciprocal knowledge and comprehension, and favouring positive relationship between subjects of different cultural backgrounds. To achieve this, the Cultural Mediator has to develop an understanding of involved cultures and to make use of different techniques, from conflict resolution to the implementation of disarming strategies and empowerment techniques. Within the context of cultural mediation, this idea of a multicultural self is paramount for mediation to succeed. Cultural Mediators play a key role in enhancing social cohesion and effective socioeconomic integration. They operate in several sectors of society: schools, where a growing number of foreign pupils are enrolled, hospitals and health structures, where medical and para-medical personnel have to provide aid and healthcare to immigrants, even shelters for illegal immigrants where other kind of needs, such as poverty, illiteracy and fear have to be faced.

As a professional activity, cultural mediation requires the effective combination and deployment of several skills (including language literacy, inter personal communication skills, emotional balance, ability to face and solve conflicts, ability to promote self-esteem, etc), combined with a strong knowledge background (on geography, history, anthropology, psychology, legislation, etc).

The aims of this workshop are:
- To discuss the vital role of cultural mediation in modern multicultural societies and how it can promote peaceful living in a multicultural society by servicing the needs of the different groups
- To identify the competences that professional Cultural Mediators must develop and describe their educational and training needs
- To research the potential of applying information and communication technology in training Cultural Mediators
- To present the achievements of project TIPS (T-learning to Improve Professional Skills for intercultural dialogue), which is funded under the Leonardo da Vinci programme

The workshop is hosted by the Hellenic Open University, partner in project TIPS and the sole distance learning university in Greece that offers flexible adult education services. The Hellenic Open University is based in Patras, a city that in the recent years has had to deal with the many consequences of illegal immigration.