Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Real Talk Overview

Real Talk: Engaging Diversity through Transformational Intergroup Dialogue

Real Talk: Engaging Diversity through Transformational Intergroup Dialogue is an education program which promotes intergroup cooperation and understanding through dialogue. Real Talk helps participants better understand the impact of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and class on individuals and groups through face-to-face, interactive exchanges focused on the reality of who people are rather than the fear that has been taught through group and cultural norms. 

Dr. Jennifer deCoste, former Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, offers comments from a 4 day Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator Training: 

Tchet and Kim tackled diversity conversations in a non-threatening and thought-provoking manner that entertained and educated participants simultaneously. Their work was excellent in showing how dialogue is critical to diversity. We learned to discover and celebrate our differences and similarities and use this knowledge to create a better workplace for everyone. The response from the participants was overwhelming positive, and included comments like:
  • “Observing both Kim and Tchet’s approach of inquiry/asking questions to deepen the conversations was very helpful.”
  • “Did a good job of meeting participants where they are at and balancing support with challenging [assumptions]”
The highest praise I can offer, though, is that since the Intergroup Dialogue training 6 months ago, the group has determined to stick with intergroup dialogue facilitation and meets twice a month to host dialogues. They are currently hosting dialogues amongst the 30 participants only so they can practice in a safe space, but in 2 months they will begin hosting dialogues for invited guests, and eventually for the whole campus. I have never had a diversity training program hold such commitment in the longer term for participants.
~May 16, 2015

Quotes from Past Workshop Participants:
  • Wow! What an amazing workshop. I’m so glad I came to it as I was debating on what to attend. I felt truly safe with both facilitators even they are strangers to me.
    May 2014
  • By participating in these group dialogues, it provides an opportunity to explore others' perspectives as well as my own, regarding class, race and related volatile topics. Throughout this process, I was able to discover my own biases, assumptions or misconceptions about people that I perceived different from myself. May 2011
  • 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. May 2010
  • This wasn't just about facts and figures regarding race; this was an opportunity to hear the experiences, hopes, fears and emotions of real people and how they face these issues every day. Because I got to be a part of this day, I am able to challenge myself to look through a different perspective when thinking about (and hearing others' opinions) on race. May 2011
  • Thank you for making yourselves present and approachable and trying to connect with each and all micro/macro and being open enough to ask us how we were perceiving what you were doing and modeling so we could learn that in our own facilitating. July 2014
  • It was useful to hear about others' perspectives and, as a result, I broadened my thinking on the potential fruits of interfaith dialogue and deepened my understanding of the importance of engaging in dialogue across lines of difference. October 2010
  • This program gave me the great opportunity to share, exchange and engage in a subject that is very dear to me. I had the opportunity to meet people, have conversations that I may not get another chance to have and most importantly, I had special moments where I could look deep into myself and others life situations and challenges that I really needed to reflect on! Spring 2013
  • I feel the dialogue did achieve its goal, but one of the things I am taking away from this is that I am getting in my own way of personal growth as a female and educator. I need to be less reactive and more proactive when opportunities arise for me to discuss gender norms and identity. As much as I would like to think I am open-minded and well equipped in this area I am starting to see that I am not. The discussions we had forced me to dig deep internally and face some issues that I didn't realize were "issues." November 2013.
  • The dialogue helped me become more comfortable with having conversations that may be difficult. I also began to see how damaging not having certain conversations could be. November 2013
  • I learned a great deal about myself and a pretty good amount about others and their gender identities too. I was able to identify things I'd like to work on and develop the tools to at least begin to work on them. I was able to open to people in a way that I'm usually not able to, which was cathartic and emotional but also has helped me to grow. I also think I developed a greater level of respect for others, especially people who are different than me. I hope this class will help me to treat people with more respect, regardless of who they are, what they look like, etc. November 2013
  • The fear of conflict I perceive is more about me than the other. December 2013
  • I learned to continue to push myself and to challenge myself to unlearn behaviors...and to continue to do the work... December 2013
  • I did not realize it was "real" dialogue so it was refreshing to speak openly and not be judged. Thank you. October 2010
  • I have done several workshops around social justice work. However, I felt this method led us deeper faster and with more trust than I have experienced before. The discussions made me really think in ways I am still processing as well as helped me put together deeper understandings of each subject. October 2010
  • 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 friends, gay or straight and it was refreshing and a little liberating. May 2010
  • 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. June 2010
  • 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. May 2010
  • 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. May 2010
  • I appreciated the "keeping it real" idea, but the whole thing seemed somehow artificial to me (i.e. baring one's soul among strangers). I think this possibly says more about me than anything else, but I felt somewhat uncomfortable in the process. I think this is ultimately a good thing. May 2011
  • I learned that my perceptions and experiences are not unique. Even though people look differently, they still can share similar experiences. I also learned to be more open minded about people who are different. My expectations changed somewhat as a result. Spring 2013
  • The best part was learning from others. But at the same time it’s difficult for me to open up and share deep things about myself with strangers. May 2011