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Nurturing understanding through discourse

During the Dive in Dialogue Final Event that was held in Ljubljana on the 20th of April 2024 about 35 school heads from various European countries discussed what the Dive in Dialogue project could mean for them and their schools.

In a world often characterized by division and discord, the importance of meaningful dialogue cannot be overstated. It’s amidst this backdrop that initiatives like the use of Dialogic Gatherings emerge, seeking to foster understanding, bridge divides, and cultivate empathy through the power of meaningful conversations. This was made very clear in an impactful presentation by Belinda Lovrenčič. At the heart of Dive in Dialogue is a commitment to nurturing dialogue to address societal challenges and foster social cohesion. Born out of a shared commitment to dialogue and social change, the project connects practitioners, researchers, and activists passionate about fostering inclusive dialogue as a catalyst for social transformation by recognizing the universal value of dialogue in fostering peace, understanding, and progress.

Constructive engagement

Central to Dive in Dialogue’s approach is its methodology, which draws upon principles of dialogue, facilitation, and conflict resolution. Grounded in theories of communication and psychology, this methodology provides a framework for constructive engagement, ensuring that conversations remain respectful, inclusive, and productive. The school heads discussed in a World café setting several questions like: What could be the purpose of organising dialogic gatherings in your school? Would you invite parents/educators/community actors to participate in dialogic gatherings in your school? What could be the barriers to organizing dialogic gatherings in your school? What support would you need to organize dialogic gatherings in your school?

Topics from today’s life

It was an eye-opener at the Final Event that respectful dialogues about difficult topics in schools, can take place using world literature. A play from Shakespeare could actually cover topics from today’s life as they can be found in our newspapers every day. The structure where safety, equality and respect make it possible to challenge students to discuss themes coming from literature they read, but actually are about themselves can lead to a new, successful understanding and help teachers develop their students’s sense of citizenship, while enhancing their self-esteem and communication skills. Also, it became very clear that by engaging students also the parents and families could benefit from the sidelines. Engaged students bring positive experiences to their homes and knowing how to express yourself is also helpful in family situations.

Coexistence and well-being

At its core, Dive in Dialogue is guided by a set of core values that underpin its work. These values include respect for diversity, commitment to social justice, and belief in the transformative power of dialogue. Grounded in principles of equity and inclusion, the project envisions a world where dialogue serves as a cornerstone of peaceful coexistence and collective well-being. Societal issues can become difficult and tense to discuss, but through the approach of Dialogic Gatherings a U-turn can be taken. By creating spaces where individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together, engage in respectful discourse, and explore complex issues facing society, participants are encouraged to listen actively, express themselves authentically, and empathize with differing perspectives.

Agents of change

Since its inception, Dive in Dialogue has made significant strides in promoting dialogue and understanding across diverse communities. Through partnerships with local organizations, educational institutions, and civil society groups, the project has reached individuals from all walks of life, empowering them to become agents of positive change in their communities.

Amplify the voices

Looking ahead, Dive in Dialogue remains committed to expanding its reach and impact, both regionally and globally. By leveraging technology, fostering strategic partnerships, and scaling up its initiatives, the project aims to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, promote cross-cultural understanding, and contribute to the building of a more just and harmonious world.

Shared humanity

In a world marked by polarization and strife, initiatives like Dive in Dialogue offer a beacon of hope, demonstrating the potential of dialogue to heal wounds, build bridges, and forge common ground. As we navigate the complexities of our interconnected world, let us embrace dialogue as a powerful tool for fostering empathy, understanding, and solidarity across borders and boundaries.

Together, we can dive into dialogue and emerge with a deeper sense of shared humanity.

Petra van Haren, director of ESHA

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