Leading conversations across differences

Intergroup dialogue facilitators help campus community have challenging discussions

Each semester, the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning extends an invitation to the Wheaton community offering training to anyone who would like to become an intergroup dialogue facilitator as well as those who want to learn practices for navigating ‘unrehearsed’ conversations. “We often think of conversations across differences as difficult or challenging, however, we like to think of them as unrehearsed,” said Kayla Berrios, Marshall Center multicultural program coordinator. “Through the program, we provide an opportunity to practice these conversations and challenge participants to move outside of their comfort zone and point of view. Last semester, our conversation series, ‘Pandemic: Beyond COVID-19,’ took a deeper dive into social structures that have been built on inequality and unequal distributions of resources and power. For example, the facilitators talked about how racism is seen as a pandemic that has impacted our society well before COVID.” This semester, dialogues revolve around power and how it affects our social structures and identities. Below, we asked a few of the facilitators to share information about their roles, their advice for handling challenging conversations, and how their training will help them in the future.