By Noah Wali
For a solid amount of the upper school body, “Community Conversations” holds a negative connotation. When busy students frantically search through their calendars on a Monday night, looking at the week ahead, the dreadful discovery of a Community conversations in place of an Office Hours on a Friday can result in complete misery.
It is quite hard to stay focused on a Friday when other things are eating at your mind, and therefore students, and maybe even adults lose sight of the importance of the conversations. I would say there are some aspects of community conversations that need some work, however, the overall idea of them is essential for the strength of our community.
The most controversial issue community conversations faces is keeping its participants both engaged and feeling safe. I believe the material brought up in the discussions are of high importance to our community, but often times the creativity of how the talks are delivered could use some change. Another issue involves the political spectrum. Often times in a situation where one may feel everybody else believes one thing and the student identifies with the other side, makes it tough for that student to speak out, even if their opinion is valued and important for conversation.
I got an inside look into the new facilitator training required for facilitators on Wednesday afternoon, and I have to admit I am impressed. We all came together to speak about ways community conversations could come more from the heart. The questions in store for us all will be exciting and thought-provoking. The new revamping of community conversations takes place today, and I speculate the new talks will do its job completely and creatively, making this the most effective way to go about “Community Conversations.”
Community conversations, led by your own peers, will be split into separate issues affecting OES as well as the world around us. There will be exactly one hour spent talking to unfamiliar or familiar people about really anything desired, but mostly about your thoughts on complex questions. Snacks may be a bonus to these conversations. The conversations will begin with activities to break any previous bias you may hold on an opinion, and to learn to hold them inside your head in order to actively listen to people’s opinions with as little judgment as possible. ZW Rahimian, an active participant in the previous community conversations, comments, “It was a wholesome experience which allowed me to further my understanding of others’ opinions.” Needless to say the previous conversations has had some effect on people in the past.
From the conversations, I hope the result can be positive and relaxing. I believe new community conversations will get rid of the cons of the old system, and bring on more pros. I hope community conversations creates relationships between new people and teaches us about the opinions and ideas of our own students. I most of all hope the conversations strengthens how we work together as a community, despite differing opinions.