WheeBuild Community Day 2017

February 28, 2017

Wheelock's Grace Notes Performing to Open WheeBuild Community DayWheelock today celebrated its first WheeBuild Community Day, a daylong series of workshops, activities, and student performances designed to spark dialogue and build community across our campus.

The opening session in the Wheelock Family Theatre featured a welcome from Faculty Senate Co-Chair Ellie Friedland, who explained why faculty had decided to cancel classes and instead create a full-day of diverse experiences for the entire Wheelock community. "We hope these sessions really address the issues that we've heard students, staff, and faculty putting forward for some time," Friedland said. "This is not a day of talking. It is a day of doing. Today is actually practicing being the community we know we can be and we want to be."

President David Chard asked everyone in attendance to set specific learning goals for themselves for the day and to encourage others to get involved. "Be a leader," he said. "This community is very important to me and I look forward to growing with you all."

The opening session included two moving student performances. The Grace Notes, Wheelock's A Cappella group, performed a beautiful version of the song Hallelujah. Then two members of FLOW (Fundamental Lyricists Of Wheelock), Wheelock's spoken word student group, performed a piece titled "My Gender Can't Decide," which focused on issues surrounding gender identity struggles and the impact on family dynamics.

Workshops throughout the day (scheduled from 10:45 a.m.-9 p.m.) offered hands-on, interactive activities designed to help people learn to engage across communities and cultures. Most of the workshops were designed and hosted by groups comprising students and faculty or staff members. To help evaluate the sessions, participants were encouraged to go to the Campus Center between noon and 9 p.m. to reflect on their experiences in the Video Booth located next to the cafe.

During a session on "The Often Forgotten Disability," attendees explored the differences between visible disabilities (wheelchair, for ex.) and invisible disabilities (diabetes, for ex.) and the often-underestimated value that people with disabilities can contribute to a community. "Disable people are the best innovators and problem solvers," said presenter Mare Parker O'Toole. "They learn how to think outside the box, come up with creative ways to get around stairs, go through doors."

In another workshop, titled "Our Shared Experience: Exploring Identity through Image, Text, and Creative Arts," attendees used the arts to express emotions and shared personal stories about ways they had been affected by racism or discrimination. Throughout the day, community members were encouraged to step away from heavy topics being tackled in the workshops and take time to play at the various game and puzzle stations sponsored by the math and science department.

WheeBuild created a special Guidebook App for Mobile Devices to help attendees get the most from the day. See below for instructions on how to download the app.

Full Workshop Descriptions

10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Workshops

  • Our Shared Experience: Exploring Identity Through Image, Text, and Creative Arts (Marianne Adams, Julia Paolino). This interactive workshop uses photographs, oral history, personal story, and primary source material to explore topics such as microaggressions, privilege, and racial identity. Participants will gain skills in the practice of creative inquiry based social action. They will take on roles, create frozen pictures, read and listen to stories, and create a visual response to these specific topics, as well as broader themes of diversity, access, and engagement.
  • Balancing Attention: Staying Present in the Face of Conflict (Petra Hesse, Michael Dysart, Debby Beck, Paul Akoury). Participating in discussions about religion, race and politics without emotional overload in these times can be a challenge. Facilitating those discussions is even harder. To stay calm and present seems to be one of the first tasks to master. This workshop will introduce some strategies for keeping it together" during difficult conversations.
  • Breaking It Down Toward E Pluribus Unum (William H. "Smitty" Smith). To encourage and assist people to talk about race in a non-toxic manner with a focus on amity, emotional safety, learning and mutual support. Conversations about race are often contentious and discourage open and supportive dialogue. This board game allows participants a meaningful experience in bridging the racial/cultural divide.
  • Complicating Safe Spaces: A Community Conversation (Grace Kim, Tina Durand, Denise Phillips, Lucas Jones, Meilin Chong, Freddy Mata-Bueso). The aim of this interactive workshop is to critically explore the concept of safe space by complicating the notion, re-defining it, and examining what a safe space may look like in our teaching and learning. Participants will expand understanding of safe space; examine issues related to power, privilege, and different needs for learning; and explore tensions faced by faculty, staff, and students (e.g., being open to educating and being educated by others).
  • The Often Forgotten Disability (Jennifer Pike, Mare Parker-O'Toole). When issues surrounding diversity are examined, they are often discussed in the context of race, sexual-orientation, gender and religion. Disability is often the forgotten diversity despite being the reality for 20% of the population. Through dialogue, exercises and a panel presentation we will explore disability language, ableism, and inadvertent micro-aggressions. This session will cover disability and diversity and how we can increase awareness and understanding of disability as a positive aspect of diversity.

1:45-3:45 Workshops

  • The Mirror Reflects Something More: Seeing Beyond Our Whiteness in Racial Discourse (Tina Durand, Lorie Spencer). In this session, we will engage in a variety of interactive activities designed to enhance our knowledge of the historic and institutional nature of racism. We will deepen our understanding of the ways in which our individual selves are located in structural (and intersectional) spaces of privilege and oppression, and will generate strategies for how to stay open without becoming defensive in discussions around race. Session has particular relevance for individuals who identify as White.
  • Queer Stuff: How do I Know What To Say (Ellie Friedland, Zachary Kerr, Lucas Jones). An interactive session to learn about the spectrums of gender and sexuality. Practicing: how to learn more about what we don't know, which questions are appropriate and how to ask them, how to learn, accept, and use new language, what to do when you make a mistake, how to respond in a positive, educational way when someone
    makes a mistake that you find offensive, how to respond when you witness micro-aggressions?
  • Balancing Attention: Staying Present in the Face of Conflict (Petra Hesse, Michael Dysart, Debby Beck, Paul Akoury). Participating in discussions about religion, race and politics without emotional overload in these times can be a challenge. Facilitating those discussions is even harder. To stay calm and present seems to be one of the first tasks to master. This workshop will introduce some strategies for keeping it together" during difficult conversations.
  • The Individual and Society: Little Things Are Big (Jeremy Nesoff). This session is an essential entry point into the methodology and resources of Facing History and Ourselves. We will investigate the key Facing History concepts of Identity, The Individual and Society, and We/They. Our
    interactive discussion will raise issues about the roles played by race, ethnicity and religion in our society while modeling effective teaching strategies that help build a safe, reflective and effective learning community.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Privilege (Katie Armstrong, Givona Dietz, Sara Khalaj, Kathy McDonough, Jenne Powers, Bobbi Rosenquest). Language is the lens through which we construct otherness and simultaneously the tool we use to break through structures of separation. In this workshop, we will use word games, humor, storytelling, and thoughtful questioning techniques to better connect with one another and start to have the conversations we want to have.

4-6 p.m. Workshops

  • What Did I Do Wrong and Why Are You Judging Me? (Ellie Friedland, Joyce Hope Scott, Jasmin Vohalis, Thamael Laurore, Meaghan Roper, Megan Robbins, Raegen Docca, Megan MacKinnon, Katie Armstrong). An interactive theatre performance in which audience members get to practice what to do when they inadvertently make microaggressions; how to respond to microaggressions in positive ways to educate not alienate; how to converse with people who have different opinions and/or values than their; how to be upstanders rather than bystanders; and how each person can contribute to making the culture at Wheelock more truly accepting and inclusive of differing values.
  • Smashing Stereotypes (Susan Owusu, Ivy Buena). Weren't you taught it's not nice to stereotype? This interactive session will create a roadmap through history and to the present time. It's time we start recognizing our power to smash stereotypes. Now that's nice!
  • The Individual and Society: Little Things Are Big (Jeremy Nesoff). This session is an essential entry point into the methodology and resources of Facing History and Ourselves. We will investigate the key Facing History concepts of Identity, The Individual and Society, and We/They. Our
    interactive discussion will raise issues about the roles played by race, ethnicity and religion in our society while modeling effective teaching strategies that help build a safe, reflective and effective learning community.
  • Exploring Experiences of Micro-aggressions in Personal, Academic, and Professional Spaces (Makieya Kamara, Ashley Davis).  This workshop aims to explore the nature of microaggressions, including the lived experiences of participants in their personal, academic, and professional lives. Participants will identify strategies for taking responsibility for the impact of their actions, regardless of their intentions. Through storytelling and visual representations, participants will give voice, and bear witness, to their own experiences of microaggressions.

7-9 p.m. Workshops

  • Working Across Difference: Lessons from Abroad (Lauren Thorman, CIPP Team, Thuy Truong, Susan Owusu, Lenette Azzi-Lessing, Chericee Hayes, Eunsuk (Michael) Kim. This session will cover lessons for working across cultural differences by sharing the experiences of presenters who
    have left their home communities to study and serve in other countries. It will offer insight on how understanding can be achieved in a foreign context and how we can engage this work domestically through a presentation examining the Savior Complex, a panel of faculty and students who have traveled abroad, and small group activities and reflection.
  • Untitled: Identity Development Through Integrative Learning (Orianna Natsis, Scott Kohen). What are the knowledge and the skills needed to change the world? This workshop will give participants the opportunity to practice several transferable skills, including active and generative listening, indwelling, and storytelling. There will be a focus on social identities. Participants will complete a social identity profile and engage in small group discussions and full group debriefs. Tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge, and knowing locations will be introduced in an effort to connect the dots.
  • Understanding & Applying Empathy to Find Common Ground & Forge Common Cause (Carlos Hoyt). This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to learn or improve an understanding of empathy and how to apply it in contentious circumstances to see beyond acrimony and conflict and discover common ground and common cause. We will use movement and role-playing activities to build practical skills.

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