Meet the 2004-2005 facilitators.
Asking me why I do dialogue is like asking why I brush my teeth: without it I am neglecting myself as well as those around me, and more importantly, I am failing to preserve the hope of a healthful future. Silly metaphors aside, I do dialogue because it is where I found the most challenge and enthusiasm for myself and my co-facilitators. Dialogue is my active role as a social justice advocate, but it is not a duty; rather, it is my outlet to learn and educate, form alliances, broaden perspectives and strive for a just society. Racism, sexism and any other –ism imaginable is hardly limited to the target groups. Oppression affects us all, and to take a blasé and submissive role is to harm ourselves and others. At Occidental, Dialogue is essentially the concept of thinking globally and acting locally, providing a safe space for these issues to be addressed with the aim that this awareness and passion can be carried into the greater society. What I’ve learned throughout my three years with the program cannot be unlearned, as it shouldn’t be, and because of this, there is no way I can allow myself to take a quiet role on the sidelines while I see the need for Dialogue in our community and beyond.
I dialogue because I recognize how important and how difficult it is for groups that are different from each other to engage and learn from these differences. Often times, this relationship is very fragile and precarious; dialogue gives these groups the opportunity to learn from one another in a space that is safe and free from judgment and power. It is my hope that through dialogue, people from all types of different backgrounds may see how the perceived impressions of one another are products of the socializations we have all received. I believe that dialogue can provide us all with the tools to break out of this “matrix” of sorts, and begin the process of healing and loving one another.
The question of why I choose to participate in dialogue can be addressed in a number of ways. Dialogue gives students the ability to take action through listening and work towards finding common ground across our difference. One of the more cliché underlying reasons for my work is the fact that dialogue changed my life. I know that this particular saying may be popular and is somewhat overused. But to not include this very valid truth in my list of motives, would deny the core factor of my commitment to social justice. Participating and facilitating in dialogue has given me an outlet for more progressive views, connected me to a beautifully diverse group of people, required me to challenge myself through honest reflection, and opened other people’s whole world to me. I believe that these outcomes qualify the dialogue experience as “life-changing.” Through the culture of listening and understanding that dialogue facilitates, the experience of a “discussion” is enhanced and enriched by the equal interaction of everyone involved. Dialogue moves people to think in terms of “I” and “thou,” in order to foster the respect needed to effectively talk about hard and conflict-oriented issues. I have come to relish in these types of discussions. The honesty, vulnerability, and passion exhibited by those who take part in dialogue, energize and inspire me to continue to contribute to the struggle for social equality. I think the overall reason that I participate in dialogue is that it offers a feeling of optimism and tangible hope in a world that thrives off the oppression of marginalized people. I have seen members of different group with conflicting beliefs, cultures, perspectives, and power dynamics find common ground through dialogue. I have witnesses the transformation in individuals who were internally hopeless, as they empower themselves to action through dialogue. And I have reaped the benefit of the forceful re-construction of a more empathetic, caring, and progressive consciousness through dialogue. This reality of change is what gives me hope.
- Director: Dr. Jaclyn Rodríguez Swan 337 (323) 259-2747 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Assistant Director: Kenjus Watson, M.Ed. Swan 332 (323)259-4687 email@example.com
- Social Psych Lab: Swan B203 (323)341-4887 firstname.lastname@example.org
- FAX: 323-341-4887