Difficult Dialogues Are Not So Difficult After All

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November 19, 2015

 

Students from Urbana, Wittenberg and Cedarville Universities get to know each other through conversation

Students from Urbana, Wittenberg and Cedarville Universities get to know each other through conversation

What exactly should happen when a significant event occurs in our nation or world? One thing that happens with students is that they discuss the issues. Sometimes those conversations, when they happen, are life changing. Too often the conversation breakdown before they get too far. In an effort to address that concern, leaders involved with Intercultural Leadership and Diversity on three campuses have been hosting events to build our ability to share during complicated moments. Cedarville, Wittenberg and Urbana Universities as part of the Southern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) have been working on a project called Difficult Dialogues. The concept is simple, create a group that gets to know each other and facilitate a space where people can talk and share ideas. When something significant happens in the world,  then communities gather together, with the people who are different than you, but whom you’ve gotten to know. People then talk about the challenges at hand. Previously those would have been “Difficult Dialogues”, but now they are simply dialogue with acquaintances and in some cases maybe even with friends. Thankful  for Dr. James Barnett from Urbana and Dr. John Young from Wittenberg for their commitment to both bring us together and to help me personally be me. As a Christian who is an African American male with a conservative background, sometimes it is easy to lose one’s voice in the community. I appreciate their help of encouraging me to not hide it under a bushel. We have conducted meetings at both of their campuses and have enjoyed working together on this important effort. Most recently in the picture above we met at Urbana with students from all three campuses and discussed questions like “when did you first realize the effects of ethnicity in your life”. Hearing the individual life stories of each person was very powerful. Our small group format is helping us get to know each other in ways that are extremely productive.

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