Faculty and students alike learn how to facilitate tough conversations through Inclusive Leadership Retreat

Hadasa Rivera Marin, Reporter

Oftentimes the line between dialogue and debate gets blurred, but the Inclusive Leadership Retreat is set on making the difference very clear. 

The Sustained Dialogue retreat taught me to be more vocal about my opinions and how to dialogue rather than argue,” said Kelsey Lam, president of Appalachian Popular Programming Society

Held annually, the retreat is led by a professional from the Sustained Dialogue Institute in Washington, D.C., who gives participants the resources for facilitating conversation and has them put it into practice.

“This event came about as an opportunity to dive deeper into training students, faculty and staff on SD and how to engage in difficult conversations,” said Emily Dabau, coordinator of campus activities.  

Dabau said the importance behind this event is that participants are taught to talk across lines of divide and listen to a variety of perspectives offered on different topics. 

Becca Bridges
During the Inclusive Leadership Retreat, students, faculty, and staff gain skills in active listening and inclusive language over a period of three days.

“It is also an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage in conversation in a different environment and to build relationships with one another outside of the classroom,” Dabau said.

Lam said many participants came into training expecting a workshop, but found themselves becoming more self-aware of their own experiences.

“I saw students coming out of the retreat ready to take on and host difficult conversations on their own campus and being able to create difference and an inclusive environment,” Lam said. 

Lam said the impact of this program is shown through participants asking when APPS’s next Taste of Dialogue event is and how they can get involved. 

A Taste of Dialogue happens every month, free of charge, and is meant to create a discussion on current issues. The next event, A Taste of Dialogue: Cultural Appropriation & Party Culture, will take place on Oct. 22 from 7-9 p.m.

“One thing that I personally took from the retreat was that conversation is key, and being able to dialogue through difference can really create beautiful relationships that one would never expect,” Lam said.