COLUMN-Rochelle: Passion for mediating
Name: Rochelle Lashley
Education: Harrison College;
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill;
Hugh Wooding Law School;
University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
Qualifications: Bachelor of Law, MSc. (mediation studies/alternative dispute resolution).
Occupation: Attorney-at-law, mediator.
If you had to introduce yourself to the world, what would you say?
Hello! My name is Rochelle.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping people who are often not seen.
You received a distinction when you completed your Associate degree in law and political science. Did this influence your interest in pursuing a career in law?
I wouldn’t say that it influenced my direction; actually, my better grades were in political science. I pursued law, not being certain that that was the path I wanted to take. But at the time I saw it as being able to provide more opportunities.
After studying law for three years at UWI, Cave Hill, why do law students leave to attend Hugh Wooding Law School?
When students finish their Bachelor of Laws degree, they are not yet qualified to practise law. The Legal Education Certificate, which is a professional certification, is required, which is attained at Law School.
Was the transition from Barbados to Trinidad an easy one, and how would you describe the experience of living there?
I would say that I was very open to the experience of living in a new country, and so the transition was not difficult for me. Having travelled on my own to many conferences and interacted with people from all over the world, my mind had shifted from the thinking that Barbados was the “only good place” to live.
I embraced the changes and tried as much as possible to view it as my present home rather than the place I was forced to be in. I grew to love many aspects of the culture, especially the food, and, of course, I made many meaningful friendships.
If a recent secondary school graduate were to ask you what was required to be a successful law student, what would you tell them?
A successful law student?! I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that.
Read the cases, but also try to grasp the real-life application and see the concepts as more than mere theories –– but principles that affect real people. But mostly . . . read the cases.
Earth, wind, fire or water. If you had a choice, which one would you be, and why?
Water, because it is adaptable. Water can be solid if frozen, adapt to the shape of a container if liquid, and can vaporize if heated –– which would allow me to also be like wind, which would be the next element I would chose. And I love the sea. It’s my favourite place to be.
Favourite book, movie, TV show and song?
Book: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Movie: A Beautiful Mind.
TV show: Prison Break.
Song: My favourite song changes often, but the longest running one would have to be Kiss From A Rose by Seal.
In 2007, you were in Connecticut in the United States. What was the purpose?
That was the first year I attended the Inter-Generational Human Rights Conference by UNESCO. This conference was focused on training young people from around the world in the area of human rights.
Having participated in this UNESCO forum, were there any opportunities that arose as a result?
The conference –– beyond the topics we focused on –– was very intentional about creating an environment for networking; and linkages were formed with people from around the world whom I’m still in contact with today.
After my first year I was asked to return as a junior facilitator, and then another year as a rapporteur, which developed my leadership skills. Being in an environment where greatness was a norm pushed my expectations of the world, people and mostly myself.
Through this conference I was able to properly articulate what I wanted to do with my life, and I was able to receive guidance from experts in the area of human rights, which was invaluable.
Were you always interested in human rights, or did your interest develop having gone to these UNESCO forums?
The UNESCO forum was an opportunity that presented itself after I started volunteering in Haiti in 2007. I began with the action before the theory, and recognized that there was an umbrella for the work I was doing, and that there was a wealth of knowledge that could inform best practices.
I would say that I always had the interest, but the UNESCO forums helped me properly define it and be more intentional about what I had been doing in a less structured way before the forums.
Fiji, Jamaica, Barbados and UNESCO. What’s the connection?
The Fiji-Jamaica-Barbados experience arose out of the small-island developing states (SIDS) process. As a small-island developing state, Barbados is a part of the SIDS grouping of countries, which had agenda-setting meetings this year. UNESCO sought to bring young people from the different regions together to have a meaningful input in the process, and they chose me as one of their Caribbean representatives.
I received training in Fiji, led the Caribbean process in Jamaica, and attended the preparatory meeting in Barbados, under the banner of UNESCO.
In December of 2012 you received an amazing opportunity, which resulted in your being in Africa. What transpired and what was the experience like?
I was chosen to be the youth representative in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Electoral Observation Mission to Ghana in 2012. This to date is my most impactful experience, and has further fuelled my desire to be involved in foreign affairs/diplomacy at some level.
Our group comprised the former prime minister of Lesotho, Right Honourable Pakalitha Mosisili (head of the group), and other experts in the area of elections. I gained tremendously from their experience and knowledge.
Being in Ghana was also in itself an amazing experience. Being able to tour slave castles and be able to see a part of my history, I had only heard of, moved me tremendously.
The actual electoral process opened my eyes again to the lived experiences of people around the world. It is amazing how people adapt and overcome challenges. The election was mostly peaceful that year.
I could go on and on about this experience. It pushed me to see beyond my norms and realize that the world is much larger both in size and in the number of differing experiences we as people live.
In 2011, you returned to Trinidad, this time to the UWI St Agustine Campus to pursue a Master of Science in mediation studies (alternative dispute resolution). Why this area of study and why Trinidad?
I chose this area as a result of much thought. I had been exposed to human rights training for years, while at the same time acquiring my legal education. I wanted to hone in on a specific area within human rights; and I found that the area that stirred me the most was the restoration of post-conflict countries.
I then tried to identify what field I could study that could better equip me in generating solutions for such scenarios, and I narrowed it down to mediation studies as this focuses on bridging gaps through facilitating mutual understanding.
I can see your training in mediation studies (alternative dispute resolution) being used in intergovernmental agencies throughout Africa, Europe and the Middle East. But is it relevant to Barbados and the region?
Mediation is applicable wherever there is a conflict between parties. Whether the parties be two neighbours having a tiff over an overhanging mango tree, or two nations disputing a border. Within Barbados and the Caribbean it is an excellent alternative to litigation, especially given the backlog within our court system.
I understand you have a love for children, charity and volunteerism. Talk to us about Team Hope and Haiti.
I began visiting Haiti in 2007 to assist in development projects through Restoration Ministries –– Haiti. The experience impacted me significantly, and I believed that it could do the same for others, and also that much more assistance could be given beyond what my two hands could manage; and so I started taking teams.
The ongoing project became known as Team Hope. My work in Haiti pushed me to rethink the way our world works and challenges me daily to do more for others. When compared to the resources others are limited to, we have enough, and can give more time, money and love. The children in Haiti taught me the value of time and love.
What is your involvement with the Commonwealth Youth Programme?
The Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) invited me to be a part of its human rights and democracy focus group in 2011. I was trained in the area of human rights and electoral observation. I later went on to be a part of the regional subcommittee in this area until the restructuring of CYP. This experience developed my leadership and organizational skills significantly.
You have volunteered with Jabez House (run by Shamelle Rice) and with the Rehabilitation Programme at Dodds Prisons. How have these experiences shaped your perspective on life?
These two programmes have broadened my scope by helping me to narrow my focus, if that makes any sense. I’ve come to see that the big picture of poverty and crime has much to do with each individual whose choices are affected by fractures in our system of living. Being involved in these programmes here in Barbados is important to me, as I am able to assist people here around me.
Who has contributed to your success?
So many people have had an impact on my life. God has given me the passions I have and continues to equip me to accomplish the current tasks one at a time. I depend heavily on Him.
My parents and sisters have always been a source of encouragement and have often challenged me to do more, and have always facilitated my ventures near and far; and I am truly grateful for their trust.
I have a unique friend circle that has given me the space to be transparent and has thereby contributed to my personal development.
My church Western Light Nazarene and the group Island Worship have also contributed significantly to my personal growth. I really believe that every interaction adds value; so really the list of people who have contributed is quite extensive.
Finish the statement: My greatest desire is . . . .
. . . For God to smile when He looks at me.
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