This film traces Dr. Volkan's lifetime journey bringing warring factions together for dialogues in various parts of the world including The Middle East, Estonia, and South Ossetia.
A scene from Dr. Volkan's early work with Israelis and Palestinians provided an epiphany that shaped all his later diplomatic interventions. This catalyst came in the form of a painted stone that one negotiator anxiously turned in his pocket. The film shows how Dr. Volkan went on to integrate an Elementary school in a border town between newly-independent Estonia and Russia at a time heightened tensions over the national language inflamed relations between these two groups. It describes his interviews with WWII orphans over three decades and how the building of a new memorial in Washington, DC, facilitated shared mourning. "How do societies heal trauma? People build monuments, and whatever feelings we have we lock them in the marble and metal." (filmmaker's interview with Volkan)
Finally the film turns to Dr. Volkan's therapeutic work with refugees forced from their homes in Abkhazia by war in The Republic of Georgia. Dr. Volkan helps this grief-stricken community find hope in their new surroundings, a dilapidated luxury hotel. He returns years later where out of the ruins the people have created a room for him, "Vamik’s room."
Okros Satsmisi ("Golden Fleece Hotel"), Refugee camp, The Republic of Georgia
The Yellow Telephone
When Dr. Volkan and his team arrived at "The Golden Fleece Hotel," a refugee camp in The Republic of Georgia, there was one telephone in this former Soviet luxury resort. Dr. Volkan was able to locate the leader of this IDP community by finding the apartment with the telephone. This apartment eventually became the site of "Vamik's room."
If diplomacy is like a basketball game, then the historical traumas of a people are like 1,000 bottles of olive oil spilled on the court.
~ Vamik D. Volkan