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Peace Wall
Title: "Peace Wall" Artist: Jane Golden & Peter Pagast, Photographer: Jack Ramsdale Disclaimer

 

Engaging Diversity, Keeping It Real: Introduction to Intergroup Dialogue

May 2010 – Evaluation

To download the Evaluation Summary, click here.

Evaluation Comments:

*13. Please indicate how participating in dialogues was beneficial to you:

  1. My participation has allowed me to critic and challenge my own beliefs, values, and prejudices in a more realistic and critical matter. The dialogues also helped me to better understand others who differ from me.
  2. Challenge myself and my views, engage in discussion with individuals from a variety of backgrounds, create greater awareness for my work with clients.
  3. I've been involved with interfaith dialogue for 30 years, and it was great to see the method used for such a difficult issue as class. I learned a lot!
  4. This is the first time in many years that I have participated in a discussion about race or diversity. Past times were not well facilitated and I ended up feeling hurt. It was healing to know that it is possible to talk about race in a positive way, although it is a hard conversation and messy. I also learned more about how racism affects people. As a (hopefully) future teacher, it is important for me to learn more and to grow. It was helpful to hear (another confirmation) by some of the African American participants that it is very important to set high expectations for African American students.
  5. The insights shared were very useful in helping me to reflect on how I interact in difficult conversations.
  6. I learned a lot about myself. This experience really served to whet my appetite for more!
  7. It was beneficial to meet others who are passionate about these issues are interested in dialogue. I was saddened by the lack of knowledge around facilitation that I saw today. I saw a great deal of men taking up space in the gender dialogue, thus silencing women. I saw facilitators that did not create a space for those who could not jump into the dialogue because of the fast past. I saw facilitators not helping move a process along with there were participants that were not actively listening to the comments of others - thus not entering into true dialogue but people ended up almost debating.
  8. This dialogue foremost introduced me to the term/technique- intergroup dialogue. Being a graduate student in a school of education and studying multiculturalism, this symposium really brought a lot of things together what I have been reading about. I also realized that people want to talk; it’s just that such environments need to be created.
  9. The sessions helped me think about how I do this work on my campus. It also provided some useful techniques and strategies to use when facilitating a dialogue.
  10. As someone who is often leading activities, and tries not to assert my own feelings in them as much as possible, it was nice to reflect on me for a change.
  11. I thought the symposium allowed a variety of people to interactively explore individual thoughts and beliefs about others and also self defining notions. The interactive component helped solidify or deconstruct a personal belief that one may have held for others or self.
  12. It helped open my eyes to others' perspectives and also helped me to open up about mine.
  13. Participating in the dialogues afforded me the opportunity to understand mine and others views about race, class, gender and other social constructs and the real life implications that these ideals can have on certain people.
  14. It was beneficial to have a diverse group interacting in a safe environment. People were respectful of each other and open to hearing differing points of view. I would suggest that you consider having smaller groups - maybe 8-10 participants with one facilitator. With 20-25 people in each group, there's not enough time for everyone to fully engage. Inevitably, a few people end up dominating the discussion. Many people find it much easier to participate when the groups are smaller and they don't have to compete with as many people to be heard. At the end of the afternoon session, the facilitator commented that she had missed the voices of people who did not participate; it would have been more helpful if she had instead asked these individuals for their reactions during the session. I would also like to point out that it is possible for people to be very engaged in what is going on, even if they are not actively commenting. Another suggestion: at the beginning of each session, people were asked about their hopes and fears for the session. This took an inordinate amount of time, and also set people up for disappointment since it's highly unlikely that everyone's hopes would be fulfilled in such brief sessions. I would suggest that instead, you orient people to the purpose and structure of the session as you see it, and engage them in setting ground rules for the discussion. And finally, you may want to include an item on your evaluation form specifically asking for suggestions for improvement for future dialogues.
  15. I will definitely use the techniques I saw--the fishbowl and the other one (what is it called?) where we step in and out of the circle. It is exciting to see such dialogues masterfully handled (by expert facilitators), and it really helped me cope with my burnout. Thanks so much.
  16. Having a space to dialogue with colleagues is essential for personal development. Thanks for providing this type of professional development. Continue this great work!
  17. It helped expose me to new ways with which to create dialogue between different identity groups and how to be a better facilitator.
  18. I gained some skills and the approach used was non-threatening I believe which is a good way to get others engaged.
  19. It was refreshing to participate in a dialogue where people were open and honest and were not just spoken to.
  20. It was beneficial for self assessment. Information provided and learned will be used for programming within my current work and educational community.
  21. It provided an opportunity for meaningful dialogues with like minded individuals.
  22. I think it was very beneficial to hear other people's perspectives or views on certain subjects because it helps you to see issues in a different light. While I have my thoughts/concerns on race and gender, it was nice to hear what people around you feel and experience. I think it is educational and not only helps to broaden your knowledge and perspective but it helps work out constructive ways of dealing with sensitive issues.
  23. I like to hear diverse perspectives and to engage in a true dialogue. I enjoyed the depth and the honesty of male conversation.
  24. It was good to hear life from different perspectives. I gained more appreciation for the human struggle and learned how we are all survivors of something. In the Sexual Orientation group it was the first time I spoke about it with other people than my freinds, gay or straight and it was refreshing and a little liberating.
  25. The dialogue on gender was very helpful. I actually think that it would have been good to stay in the same group and shift topics because we developed a great rapport in that group. I feel like I walked away from that dialogue with a better understanding of perspectives and experiences that differed from mine. I did not feel that way with the dialogue on race. Part of this may be because it is SUCH a sensitive topic that it takes people a very long time to warm up enough to stop dissociating themselves. People in this dialogue took a more clinical approach and that made me uncomfortable. I think in the end the conversation ended up being very one-sided and largely only the voices of some of the many Black women present were heard. I also thought the facilitators could have done a little better job in the race panel of making sure that room was created for a variety of voices rather than just letting a couple of voices dominate.
  26. It was beneficial as someone already trained to facilitate dialogue to see how others handled the dialogue, what worked and what did not. It was also beneficial to be able to be honest at all points of the dialogue. Often teaching or facilitating. Because of power differential as teacher or role as facilitator I have to think about what I will respond to and what I will not to maintain safe space for students in a different way than when I am a participant.
  27. It was great to see how the process was conducted.
  28. The morning session on religion gave me some insight on people thoughts about their religious beliefs. The afternoon session on sexual orientation was not what I thought it would be, however it was quite interesting.
  29. This symposium was of profound benefit to me as I facilitate... and I picked up new methods and tangible models that I will use through my own dialogues and conversations in and outside of prison. Moreover facilitation methods and dynamics changed from mourning to afternoon... All kinds of factors such as group numbers, members, and time constraints allowed for a different dynamic I will take much from this dialogue. Thanks. Let me know when you have another!
  30. I learned good listening skills and how to manage a safe conversation.
  31. It allowed me to grow and to develop a deeper appreciation of others and how to interact in a more respectful way.
  32. The techniques used by the facilitators helped me to understand how difficult topics might be better approached. I would like to mimic these techniques with our management team to open up an honest dialogue.
  33. Gaining different perspectives from others. Gaining a new perspective regarding class.
  34. Sharing our varied experiences and perspectives helps me remain sensitive to our differences while obtaining a better understanding of humanity.
  35. I heard a lot of different perspectives on race from the participants who were a very diverse group. Gave me lots to think about -- new knowledge about variations within racial and ethnic groups.
  36. Valuable comments were taken back to reflect upon.
  37. The dialog created a deepening awareness of the continued work that needs to occur to challenge the inequalities that continue to exist.
  38. I think this was one of the most frank, raw discussions I have attended in a long time. We have become so careful in this work of social justice that we rarely come eye to eye with it. I loved being able to hear people really discuss their personal feelings- which moved me more than once and shook me up in a way that helped me to get re-engaged in my own internal transformational process.
  39. I hadn't had the opportunity to participate in diversity discussions for a while and this WAS a tame group compared to past groups I've been in, including my graduate program, but I feel it's important to keep moving along in thinking and working with others in a synergistic way helps my growth and that of others...I'm a social worker (a good group to get talking about this) and face these issues every day...Thank YOU!!!

*The comments were edited to maintain the anonymity of the respondent as well as for spelling and grammaratical errors.