Changing the World Through Inter-Group Contact

submitted by Linda Hill

Monday, January 21, 2019 is Martin Luther King day in the USA. A goal of this day is to participate in community service that emulates Martin Luther King’s efforts to free the USA of discrimination.

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” (Martin Luther King)

Our Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential online course is offered as one way of bringing together people from around the world to reduce prejudice, build global awareness and develop loving and skilled action plans for serving our local communities.  The process we follow is something that Martin Luther King practiced tirelessly which is called inter-group contact.  The participants who show up from all over the world are demonstrating great love for equality and great service for our communities by learning with each other and from each other.

“Hi! A friend told me about this program and I read about what you guys do. I really felt and realized that I need to participate and be part of this course. It is essential to me to learn from other people in different cultures, countries and societies. I’m committed to this course because it will help me to acquire more leadership skills and also try to change my community and be able to create peace.” (Angella, Uganda)

Angella is highlighting what happens when people from diverse backgrounds gather for relaxed, equal, co-operative, meaningful interactions. The mutual learning opportunities within ‘Inter-Group Contact’  experiences are highly effective in reducing prejudice, building awareness and developing Inclusive Leadership skills for living, learning and leading in our diverse communities.

Here are some examples from past participants showing the process and the impact of showing up in this diverse learning community with great love, great willingness to serve, and great desires to explore and share diversity together through inter-group contact.

“I remember starting this course alone when we were introducing ourselves. Then came sharing beautiful and wonderful ideas and thoughts. Learning from each other as we shared our stories with ease made us into a diverse team of people from all over the place. What we achieved in this course can be achieved in our real lives to create a diverse and inclusive world.” (Sarita Dutt, Fiji)

“I learned about the concept of “Nothing About Us Without Us” from people with diverse abilities – shifting away from doing things for people toward cooperation and co-creation with people.” (Claudia Sanchez, Colombia).

“The art of inclusion applies with all humans no matter gender, practices, age, race, creed or religion. Many people arrive at Inclusive Leadership with our own experiences of dissonance with what we have been taught or come to believe and our own determination to live inclusion in every aspect of our lives in peaceful manners with Love. Inclusive Leadership addresses struggles with ourselves and with others by being in a calm state and in a safe place to share and experience growth through the dissonance.” (April Vance, BC, Canada)

“The more I learn, the more I am realizing that education on inclusion is so important in areas like Uganda where people find it hard to connect with people that are not in their tribal affiliation and tend to misunderstand other people’s beliefs and affiliations, with some tribes describing themselves as superior to the others.The most striking part so far into the inclusive leadership course is the fact that that differences are actually gifts.” (Joanita Babirye, Uganda).

“We explored how Inclusive Leaders contribute to our communities in ways that “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We collaboratively wrote this article: “Building Bridges to Inclusive and Equitable Education” that shares what we learned from each other.” ( Tosin, Mark, Momodu, Patti, Mohammed , Muhammad, Felix, Ebenezer, Temo, Joanita and Lindsay, Planet Earth.)

“I heard from participants who have deep concerns about relationships between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people around the world with tensions rising – especially around election time. We helped each other gather together ideas and tools to be personally effective such as becoming fluent in different languages and sharing leadership in creating community-building events.” (Sarah Mathison, Ontario, Canada)

“It is especially dear to me to learn about inclusive and sustainable agribusinesses from Inclusive Leaders in African countries as we are focusing on agriculture here in Fiji.” (Kim Bowden-Kirby, Fiji).

“One journey shared showed such steadfastness in continuing to find ways to advocate for everyone, especially the HIV community. I resonate with people who “don’t beat around the bush”. (Betty Doherty, BC, Canada)

“Learning from our Anti-Discrimination First Aid stories was very emotional. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotions of discrimination, especially when it involves ourselves or people we love or are close to. But remembering the simple ABCs of Anti-Discrimination First Aid is so very helpful, and it works: A for assessing what we can do to help, B for breathing to engage our relaxed nervous system, and C for communicating with compassion. What a pleasure to see clear examples Anti-Discrimination First Aid in our real life situations.” (Stanley Daniels, Shuswap Nation, Canada).

What are the outcomes of serving our global village through inter-group contact? We learn together how to think globally and act locally to follow the paths identified in the international Earth Charter that will free our planet from exploitation and exclusion.

  • Respect and care for the community of life
  • Ecological intergrity
  • Social and Economic Justice
  • Democracy, Non-violence and Peace

“When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” (Martin Luther King).