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Let's Talk about Race: Reflective Structured Dialogue

Purpose: With the current climate of racial tension in the U.S echoing around the world, people have expressed the need to engage in challenging conversations now more than ever. However, these conversations need to go beyond persuading or agreeing and instead, strive to achieve connection through deep listening. Ideologies and worldviews may divide us but respectful conversations bring us closer to each other.

Bitrus Dangiwa said “Your questions cast a powerful searchlight into my heart…....they are catalysts for a deeper journey.” The dialogue will be structured as follows:

Level of engagement: Please turn your camera ON during the dialogue. To fully benefit from this dialogue experience, participants need to engage until the end of the session.

Participants in this dialogue will be asked to deeply reflect on instances in which race or ethnicity has played a role in their lives. During the dialogue, the participants are highly recommended to have a pen and paper to jot down some ideas during periods of reflection for when it is their turn to share.

Each participant will have the same amount of time to participate and responses will be timed by facilitators. Small groups of 3-4 people will be engaging in breakout dialogue sessions.

Communications agreements:

• Speak for yourself and from your own experience
• “Pass” or “pass for now” if you’re not ready or don’t wish to respond
• Remain muted while others are speaking
• Honor time limits to ensure everyone has a chance to participate
• Respect any requests for confidentiality
• Speak one at a time, and take a breath between speakers
• Use the chat function to let the facilitator know if you need anything

Perla Padilla is a Rotary Peace Fellow (Honduras/United states) and an advocate for the welfare of refugees and people seeking asylum. Her professional experience consists of research coordination, case management, program evaluation, consultancy and project development. She has worked in four countries: The United States, Mexico, Colombia and Australia. Currently she leads the Queensland chapter of Refugees Welcome Australia, a grassroots organisation that provides community-based housing responses to people seeking asylum and experiencing homelessness. As a practitioner, she designs and implements community participation and dialogue initiatives to promote awareness and understanding on topics such as forced immigration and racial, ethnic, religious and cultural differences.

Katsa Brenneman was a 2018 Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. There, she obtained her master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution. She is originally from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado Springs, where she obtained her bachelor’s in sociology, philosophy, and diversity. She has traveled all over the world working with organizations such as UNICEF in Fiji and the United States Peace Corps in Togo. She is particularly interested in projects that empower communities to make full use of their own resources to make positive, sustainable changes for the future. She is currently working to create a Volunteer Action Center for the city of Fairbanks, Alaska.