Tools for Changemakers 2020 – Shaping the future together through dialogue

17 - 19 July 2020

29/07/2020
SCreenshot keywords T4C 2020

 

Can you truly listen? What if we all had the power to make our communities more cohesive and inclusive by starting to deeply listen to each other? The Tools for Changemakers conference was a three-day experiential journey designed to equip participants with the powerful tool of dialogue. More than 180 active or aspiring changemakers from all over the world and from all ages joined the online event from 17 to 19 July 2020. They experienced first-hand how transformative it can be to authentically share with and listen to each other.

Despite being online, the conference was highly interactive. It successfully created a safe space and offered plenty of opportunities for participants to get to know each other, reflect on their experiences and share them. Words of gratitude flowed in, as participants left feeling inspired and connected. A Facebook group has been created to offer that community a new venue.

 

T4C 2020 Day 1 Diana Damsa
Diana Damsa, Managing Director Tools for Changemakers

 

Let’s talk! – Exploring dialogue principles and learning from experienced practitioners

The first day of Tools for Changemakers introduced participants to the tool of dialogue. Experts  spoke about their approaches to dialogue and shared their vision for how these can play a significant role in responding to the challenges facing the world.

 

Dialogue is an enquiry into difference, not a decision-making process.

Simon Keyes

 

‘Dialogue is a process of thinking about differences,’ said Simon Keyes, Professor of Reconciliation and Peacebuilding at the University of Winchester. He said that dialogue enables us to see how our opinions are shaped by our environment and that it builds trust and relationships. The process is often not easy and requires us to suspend our judgments, to be honest and transparent and to free ourselves from the need to agree or make decisions. ‘The challenge comes from the fact that we are born in different places; it gives us misperceptions of each other,’ said Mohammed Abu-Nimer, professor at the School of International Service of the American University, and senior advisor at KAICIID. Dr Iryna Brunova-Kalisetska, researcher, trainer and dialogue facilitator, drew attention to the fact that dialogue takes time, which we don’t always have in the midst of a conflict.

 

T4C 2020 Day 1 Simon Keyes
Simon Keyes

 

 

Let’s listen! – Experiencing a dialogue

For the second day of Tools for Changemakers, participants had the opportunity to experience dialogue themselves. In small groups, they shared their experiences of privilege and discrimination. They learned to express themselves authentically, listen carefully to others and reflect on their experiences, which led to deep connection. ‘Recognizing my privilege has encouraged me to learn more about other peoples’ experiences of oppression and discrimination,’ stated a participant.

 

T4C 2020 Ebony Rob Matthew
Ebony Walden, Matthew Freeman and Rob Corcoran

 

Ebony Walden, Matthew Freeman and Rob Corcoran, three dialogue facilitators from the United States, then discussed the role of dialogue in the #BlackLivesMatter context. ‘Often people think that we don’t need to talk, that we need action, but I think that this is a false dichotomy,’ said Matthew Freeman. Dialogue is a crucial step in taking action, as it can help us to get on the same page.

Watch the full discussion here.

 

 

Let’s reflect! – Taking inspiration from stories of impact, sense making and looking ahead

For the final session of T4C, two peacemakers shared the impact that dialogue has had on their lives. Angela Starovoytova, a trainer in effective communication from Ukraine, explained how she started her career wanting to ‘share her wisdom with the world’ and for others to adopt her values. She then came to realize that others are entitled to their opinions, even if she disagrees with them. When her father and she kept arguing on their positions regarding Russia’s annexation of Crimea, she decided that their relationship meant more to her than being right and chose the path of dialogue, reuniting the family.

Watch the replay here.

 

T4C 2020 Angela
Angela Starovoytova

 

Janine Farah, who is doing a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies in Australia, told of the courage it had taken for her to enable someone who had suffered deeply to engage in dialogue with a person from the same community as the perpetrators.

Participants had the opportunity to expand these discussions in smaller groups – talking about where they could use dialogue in their own personal and professional lives. Hearing stories from all over the world served as a source of inspiration to participants, bringing them closer together.

Participants’ words of appreciation showed that they found the experience inspiring and that they enjoyed connecting at a deeper level with others. We look forward to seeing how they will use what they have learnt about dialogue in addressing the challenges faced by their communities.

 

Thank you to the team for the seamless organization, and to all the participants for their vulnerability and willingness to dialogue, to listen and to share openly. It was a true privilege to be part of this event.

 

So much gratitude and inspiration! Thanks to the organizers for such a wonderful opportunity to connect with so many change-makers from the world!

 

Watch the replays on Youtube

Know more about Tools for Changemakers

 

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T4C 2020 Day 1 screenshot participants

 

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