Diversity Talks Hope to Strengthen Community
"It's intentional listening and sharing across differences to increase understanding of one another and strengthen community relationships," said program coordinator Nanette Chun-Mingward.
Rachel Binkley's been raising her bi-racial son in Columbia for the past five years.
"These types of things are very important for me, because they're very applicable with my everyday life," said Binkley, a program facilitator.
She came as a participant last year, and said the experience impacted her so much she wanted to come back as a facilitator.
"It was profound for me, and I just really wanted to dedicate more of my time to it," she explained.
As part of the program, participants watch parts of a video that raises issues about diversity. Then they discuss the video in small groups. The small group discussions are a crucial part of raising awareness.
"We have found that the interaction in this kind of setting, face-to-face, really does break down barriers," Chun-Mingward said.
Chun-Mingward said these broken barriers are important to the whole community.
"I think Columbia, hopefully, is stronger each time people make those connections," she explained.
Organizers hope that discussions about diversity will make it differences a non-issue in the community.
"That's what we need, is people to be exposed to this kind of thing so that it's natural for them and they gravitate toward tolerance, and acceptance, and respect," Binkley said.
The seminar is free. It's sponsored by the Human Rights Commission and personal donations.