Xchange Scotland educational work is about creating opportunities for positive action and challenging barriers that can keep us apart and hold us back -as individuals and communities. Unfortunately, those barriers seem to be taking over reality nowadays: challenging our humanity and testing our empathy. In the current context, it seems especially important to keep communicating to build understanding, not to hurt. To communicate to exchange ideas, diverse ways of being and points of views, not to be right. To communicate to develop and to learn, not to punish. To communicate to share what we care about, not to escape of or to create fear.
That’s why with our project “Spread the action!” we’re aiming at supporting and inspiring practitioners and group / community leaders to tackle sectarianism and discriminations and to promote empathy in an appropriate and relevant way to their practice and the groups they’re working with.
In this blog post we wanted to share some of the tools to facilitate dialogue on identity and belonging that we’re using with groups: On the 22nd of August we used The Iceberg Model Tool to explore our identities and cultures with participants from the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council ‘ “Connected Communities Challenging Hate” project. According to this model, when we describe who we are, our identity is connected to others’ through our interactions, relationships, choices, contexts and communities. Our Identity changes over time and it’s anchored in something larger (community, family, society,…). For this model, only a very small portion of the iceberg can be seen above the waterline (songs, language, clothing, symbols, religious traditions…). This top of the iceberg is supported by the much larger bottom part underneath the waterline and therefore invisible: a powerful foundation (norms, values, beliefs…). The Iceberg model implies that visible parts of our identity are expressions of our invisible part.
What’s the consequence of having most of our identity hidden in a context of new relations and intercultural encounters? When different cultures come together, we might often rely on our preconceived assumptions about other groups and peoples. Using this tool creates the opportunity to explore identity and barriers from the visible part -celebrations, language, religious practices…- and from the invisible part – traditions, values….-). This tool provides with an opportunity to nurture curiosity, respect and understanding through sharing and learning about our own values, attitudes & behaviours.
On the 2nd of September, we had the chance to gather a group of change makers from the Stewartry Council of Voluntary Service, from Interfaith Glasgow, Greenfaulds High School and Xchange Scotland to reflect on sectarianism and to explore effective ways to promote empathy within their groups and communities.
We are using the Common Cause Approach, according to which one of the most important factors in pushing for change is the set of values: a strong driving force behind many of our attitudes and behaviours. For us, working with values allows us to explore the perspectives behind hateful attitudes and behaviours, creating an opportunity to nurture curiosity, respect and understanding.
Examining these values more closely allows us to reveal connections between seemingly different attitudes and behaviours and opportunities to bring about lasting, systemic change and to promote constructive discussion and empathy. Feedback from participants is being very positive as these seem to be useful tools to bring to the groups and communities they’re working with!
Wanting to learn about these and other tools? Our next session will take contribute to the Hate Crime Awareness Week 2016 (7th – 14th October):
WHEN? Thursday 13th October, 11 – 5pm.
WHERE? Kinning Park Complex (G41 1AQ)
TO APPLY / FIND OUT MORE: drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org