Here and Now
Suffolk County Community College Publication, Selden, NY
On May 1, professionals from the Eastern, Ammerman and Grant campuses attended “Safe to Relate,” a workshop designed to strengthen cross-cultural relations. The group consisted of staff from admissions and multicultural affairs. Peter Vogel, founder and managing director of CulturePrep, conducted the full-day session. Vogel used three core learning modules—personal, relational, and systemic—to help participants assess attitudes, behaviors, and relationships, all of which have a direct impact on recruitment and retention. Participants also engaged in meaningful dialogue; they shared experiences with cross-cultural conflict and discussed ways to build understanding between staff and students. “Safe to Relate” marks the beginning of future endeavors to improve cross-cultural relations at the College.
Standley Lake High School will be the first school in Colorado to present a “Safe to Relate” cross-cultural Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, October 2, 2007. The Town Hall Meeting will include approximately 100 students, parents, staff and teachers in a day-long series of meetings geared toward promoting a broader understanding of the challenges, issues, and opportunities that face not only students and staff of color, but also their peers from all cultures, faiths and socio-economic backgrounds.
University if Nebraska Medical Center Publication
In a town hall meeting and a series of focus group sessions, a moderator from the Safe to Relate program recently led University of Nebraska Medical Center employees through discussions about challenges, issues and opportunities that face students and staff from all cultures, faiths, races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
About 300 students also participated in an e-mail survey distributed by Safe to Relate about the campus diversity climate.
The activities were sponsored by University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken. Similar activities were held on all four NU campuses and were aimed at strengthening the entire university’s diversity climate.
“The discussions and activities facilitated discussions that were productive and thought provoking,” UNMC Employee Relations Director Carmen Sirizzotti said. “Thanks to all employees who participated in the town hall and focus groups and thanks to all students who took the survey.”
Safe to Relate is a cross-cultural advancement system that offers individuals and groups desiring to cross cultural barriers solutions to improve their diversity climates.
During the town hall meeting, which was attended by about 100 UNMC employees, moderator Peter Vogel presented anonymous cross-cultural surveys using wireless keypads that gauged employees’ opinions about the environment at UNMC.
Vogel said he would review input from discussions and surveys and make suggestions about steps that can be taken to strengthen UNMC’s diversity climate.
Written by VICKI RICE, Hub Staff Writer
Monday, 21 May 2007
KEARNEY, NE – Are there opportunities at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to interact with people from different backgrounds? Do people from different cultures understand each other? Students, faculty, staff and community members discussed those issues and others related to diversity in a town hall meeting Thursday at UNK. Astrid Garcia, a junior from Grand Island said the event was interesting. “It got people thinking,” she said.
Peter Vogel, the founder of CulturePrep Inc., led the discussion. He said he has spent the last 20 years traveling the world doing peace-building initiatives.
After watching movie clips, answering multiple-choice questions and participating in discussions, those who attended came up with a wish list of what they would like to see on campus:
More interaction between American students and foreign students.
A buddy system to pair up students from different cultures.
More professors enforcing multicultural respect.
More effort for people to understand each other.
For everybody to join an organization with others who are different.
Growth in understanding different cultures.
Vogel used the phrase, “Seeing is freeing” to talk about how people can begin to make changes when they see the changes that need to be made. “One of the hardest things to do, while we can talk in a detached manner about those who have hurt us, it’s hard to talk about how we’ve hurt others,” he said.
Participants talked about what prevents better cross-cultural relationships, including such things as the fear of being misunderstood, the language barrier, fear, the way people are raised and not liking change.
Dawn Mollenkopf, assistant professor of teacher education, told of an instance in her job interview in which she was not directly asked about being Jewish, but was confronted in a roundabout way. She said issues that could be perceived as discrimination are sometimes issues of ignorance, and she sees that part of her reason for being at UNK is to educate others about cultural differences.
“Subtle pervasive ignorance is the hardest to address and eliminate,” said Kurt Siedschlaw, criminal justice and social work professor. Garcia said often people don’t think about things like race, but people from different races on campus don’t always do a lot of interacting. “Everyone tries to stay in their comfort zone.”
Although the campus has activities to highlight different cultures, she said, students from other cultures don’t always attend. She said she doesn’t look at the race of her friends, but at what they have in common. She would like to come to other events such as the one Thursday if others are offered on campus.
University of Mississippi Medical Center Publication
The town hall meeting began with University of Mississippi Medical Center students examining their own hearts when it comes to multicultural relations.
One student talked about the difficulty of making friends with students of another race or culture. Another student spoke about feeling isolated as one of a few minorities in her class, and other students talked about stereotypes or misconceptions that build walls.
This “Safe to Relate” town hall meeting April 16 was designed to prompt discussion about multicultural relationships on campus and what can be done to improve them. Peter A. Vogel, former director of worldwide admission and financial aid for Up with People in Denver, Colo., and former director of admissions at Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., moderated the event. He has been doing cross-cultural training for nearly 20 years.
“I think the first step to healing is in honesty, whether it be cross-culturally, cross-ethnically or in relationships with significant others,” Vogel said. “There’s power in recognizing our own brokenness.”
Through clips from popular films, Vogel highlighted some of the issues that divide people, such as race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. He then asked the audience questions about their personal experiences and the multicultural climate on campus. Several students spoke openly on both topics, and later offered solutions, including better communication, more empathy and getting to know people before making judgments.
Meg Mills, a fourth-year graduate student, said she wished the discussion could have run longer than the two-hour time period.
“I love this cultural interaction. I would love to do this more often to make sure all the voices are heard,” she said.
LePercival Griffin, an M1 student, said he would encourage students to attend similar events in the future.
“It allowed everyone to be open and let everyone discuss how they felt without being harassed,” he said.
— Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle (4-23-07)
La Salle University Collegian
While most college students saw Martin Luther King Day as an extra day off after the winter break, other students saw it as a day to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest leaders of all time …
By Chris Parker
The Morning Call
When a 500-pound man walks into a room — or an interracial couple who kiss as they enter, or a lesbian couple holding hands — most people would deny being uncomfortable.
In their heart of hearts, everybody harbors some degree of prejudice, but it’s often masked by politically correct speech, said a cultural tolerance counselor Monday to a group of Panther Valley residents.
But unless people look into their hearts and acknowledge their bias, they can’t begin to change it, said Peter A. Vogel, founder and managing director president of Safe to Relate, an Empire, Colo., a cross-cultural understanding program.
Vogel presented a program to students, teachers, administrators and members of the public at Panther Valley High School in the second step of a journey toward a cooperative and respectful community after what police say was a racially charged melee that resulted in several arrests at a November high school football game.
Audience members spent the day exploring their prejudices and discussing how to overcome them and, by doing that, helping to prod society into appreciating differences among people instead of hating or just tolerating them.
The gathering was the ”birth of a committee” to address the need for appreciation and respect of differences in the community, Superintendent Chris West said.
The program followed a town meeting in December to discuss racial tensions. West said he planned to arrange further sessions. ”We want to take the time to do this correctly,” he said.
Coaldale Borough Councilman Richard Corkery expressed disappointment that no black people attended Monday’s session. ”That’s a shame,” he said.
West said he would continue to invite residents to the sessions in an effort to draw a racially and culturally diverse crowd. ”I’m not giving up,” he said.
The district hired Vogel for $10,000 last year to guide its diversity program.
”We’re all racist to a point,” said Frank Damian, a Panther Valley High School teacher who gives classes in cultural diversity.
One of Vogel’s exercises was to have a group imagine what they would think if a 500-pound man; a lesbian or gay couple; and interracial couple walked into the room.
After some embarrassed silence, people confessed their immediate reactions would include negative reactions.
Vogel, who admits that even after 20 years of teaching diversity he still harbors prejudices, told the group they must acknowledge their bias in order to change it.
”People go underground. They learn the right language and the right thing to say,” Vogel said. ”At the same time, they are ignoring the truth in their own hearts and souls as far as their own demons.”
Jose Rivera, a Tamaqua Area School District administrative aide, said he assumed a clerk was acting out of prejudice when she asked for more identification when he made a credit card purchase. But it turned out he simply had not signed his name to the card.
It’s not easy for people to move out of their comfort zone to get to really know someone about whom they are biased, he said.
”Real learning is uncomfortable,” Vogel said. ”Habits never give up without a fight.”
And the quest never ends.
Vogel said the past 20 years have been a ”personal Odyssey of examining my own demons.” He spoke of being in Harlem and being afraid of a group of teenagers following him down the street. He reacted with fear, sure the teens were hoodlums, he said.
One approached him and asked if he was Mr. Vogel. It turned out the teenagers were student leaders at a school where Vogel was to speak.
”That caused me to do an inventory of my own biases,” he said.
He said he hopes Monday’s group leaves the session ”being risk-takers, reaching out to the ‘other,”’ Vogel said. ”We all have the ‘other’ in our lives. I would encourage them to take the risk, walking the path t ogether and having a deep relationship — and that takes work.”
Racial Conflict not new to area
Panther Valley gathering provides open, honest dialogue
Times News, Allentown PA.
Calling the event a “launching point for the future of the Panther Valley Community,” Superintendent of Schools J. Christopher West on Monday welcomed a cultural diversity expert to a town hall meeting, held in the high school auditorium.
As West opened the meeting, which was attended by approximately 100 district residents, he said that during the past three months there have been several racial incidents, including a fight that broke out during a football game. “We’ve had our difficulties; we’ve had our struggles,” West told the audience. “We have reached far and wide and our search led us to Colorado.”
West then introduced Peter Vogel, founder and managing director of Safe to Relate, an organization that deals in diversity and cross-cultural issues.
Courier Express, DuBois, PA.
“In celebration of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Penn State DuBois Campus students heard the insight of the late civil rights leader through a presentation by Colorado-based CulturePrep speakers Peter A. Vogel and Frances Eckhardt. Their message was that universal and unconditional love is essential for flourishment anywhere, whether the location may be urban or rural.
After a moment of silence for the slain leader, Vogel and Eckhardt employed personal experiences and visualization devices to demonstrate the necessity of using heart, hands, and head to foster peace.