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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Annual Day of Dialogue Provides Space for Knox Community Introspection

Since 2018, Knox College has annually hosted a series of dialogues accompanied by a keynote address with a focus on fostering conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. This year’s theme, “Beyond the Conversations: Taking Dialogue Discussions to the Next Level,” centers around building communities and navigating through differences and will feature a keynote presentation from Emmy award winner Joshua Barr. “My goal is for participants to walk away with hope that working across extreme differences can be done and knowledge on how to begin this work,” Associate Dean and Director of Intercultural Life Tianna Cervantez ’06 said.

The Day of Dialogue began as a student-led initiative in 2017 as a platform for cultural organizations on campus to discuss issues prevalent in the community to process emotions, opinions, and explore perspectives in a safe space. Recognizing the importance of addressing these issues, the Office of Intercultural Life and the Multicultural Student Advisory Council (MSAC), led by Cervantez and the Student Senate diversity chair, worked together to shape the event. 

Intergroup dialogue was among the first concepts brought forward to impact this cause. It was first introduced to the Knox College community after faculty and students attended a conference in Michigan that trained them in various aspects of facilitating conversations. Soon after, intergroup dialogue was added as a minor to the College. However, for some in the Knox Community, this was not enough. Students wanted a space to hold dialogue outside the classroom. 

Assistant Director of Intercultural Life Yasmine Dávila ’19 was a first-year student and MSAC representative for Lo Nuestro when Day of Dialogue was founded. Dávila said the members of MSAC acknowledged the need for a place to be emotionally vulnerable about sensitive issues. “We wanted to bring not just the intellectual political conversations that were happening, but bring kind of the humanity and social-emotional part of it into the space,” Dávila said.

Intercultural Life Peer Educator Meridia Lattig ’25, who is among the group of students taking part in planning this year’s event, shared excitement to have a moment for conversation among her peers, “I’m always excited to connect with other students and staff because Day of Dialogue conversations have, in the past, been eye-opening,” he said. “I think it will strengthen our connection as a community and allow us to learn from each others’ experiences.”

Assistant Director of Intercultural Life and LGBTQ+ Advisor Jordan Hurst ’17, whose graduation came a year before the first Day of Dialogue, is eager to now have the opportunity to lead the event. In partnership with Dávila and Cervantez, the Office of Intercultural Life has organized several different facilitator workshops to train students, faculty, and staff on how to hold space for conversations that might be emotionally taxing and require careful navigation to coordinate effectively. “It's a back-to-back conversation about how to build a better dialogue, around how to communicate authentically across identities, and see how all of us interact with each other,” Hurst said. “I think a lot of people aren't ready or think they don’t know enough to participate, but the truth is you bring so much to the table already. All your experiences have in some way shaped you. That’s all you need.” 

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Printed on Saturday, June 15, 2024