The Power of Dialogue
Director, Connection Point Initative
“The results are clear: Dialogue makes a difference!”
This past fall, we launched a pilot of our Connection Point Dialogues program, bringing together women from Arab, Muslim, and Western communities around the world. The purpose was to see if dialogue could, in fact, change perceptions and build positive relationships across cultural, religious, and in this case, physical barriers. We used the Google+ Hangouts videoconferencing platform to host web-based dialogues.
Four groups of women met for two hours each week, over a seven-week period. They discussed a range of issues related to the role of women in society and the role of women in improving international relations between predominantly Western nations and predominantly Arab and Muslim nations. At the conclusion of the program, participants completed evaluations. The results are clear: Dialogue makes a difference!
78% of respondents rated their overall group dialogue experience as high or very high.
78% of respondents feel they have an increased understanding of women from other regions or backgrounds, culturally or otherwise.
72% of respondents agreed that the CP Dialogues program helped them to better understand some of the issues and challenges women are facing in Western, Arab and Muslim communities around the world.
72% of respondents agreed that the CP Dialogues program challenge the way the media represents women from predominantly Arab, Muslim and Western societies.
72% of respondents plan to share information they learned through CP Dialogues with their communities, networks, or contacts.
One participant shared, “It made me think seriously to share my thoughts according to my knowledge, and to play my part of being a global citizen, to have a more peaceful world.” We were happy to learn that some participants created blogs and groups to stay in touch. One woman said, “I’m excited to hopefully remain in touch with our group through our blog and facebook groups, and hopefully share that. Informally, I’ve spoken about my experience with many I am close to.” It even impacted how a couple of women are approaching their work. One participant shared, “I’m planning to publish blog-posts and use some materials in my future trainings.” Another said, “I actually applied for a job (still in the application process) that specifically deals with women’s issues in peacebuilding, largely due to my somewhat newfound appreciation for the unique situation women are in.”
When we first began the dialogues, we wondered how the videoconferencing medium would impact the group experience. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. As one participant explains, “I was surprised to find that it was almost easier to be honest and open through this platform than in person, given the sense of privacy it gave you, and how it forced people to listen and not interrupt.”
On the discussion topics, one woman said, “I most enjoyed hearing about my other group members’ personal experiences, across all of the topics we discussed — religion, identity, politics, the workplace.” Women also shared their thoughts on the overall group experience. One stated simply, “Wonderful. Wish it could go on forever.”
We look forward to launching the first official round of dialogues in mid-March. The program will be even stronger because of the feedback both participants and group facilitators provided. To get involved, check out the following links:
Follow Peace X Peace on Twitter (@PeaceXPeace)