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UMassD Teach-in: Bridging Differences and Creating Change

As a senior in college with graduation only three months away, not only am I sad to be leaving my UMass community and wondering how to “adult”, I am also terrified of leaving the concrete fortress that has protected me from the outside world for the past four years. Usually you hear about people being afraid of change – moving, trying new foods, meeting new people – but I am afraid of the lack there of.

With the chaos that has erupted nationally and internationally, due to our recent presidential election, we can clearly see the division among our people. I’m not saying that the election caused these divisions, but it certainly opened the world’s eyes to them.

Whether you are freaking out, hopeful, or gung-ho about Trump’s win, there are obvious issues in society that need to be discussed. Instead of “let’s make America great again” how can we make America united?  Communicate, collaborate, and create change. The administration at UMass Dartmouth hopes to aid this effort with a community “teach-in”.

UMD teach-in

What is a “Teach-in”?

Cynthia E. Cummings, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth supplied me with the Merrian-Webster definition – “an extended meeting usually held on a college campus for lectures, debates, and discussions to raise awareness of or express a position on a social or political issue”.

“UMass Dartmouth’s Teach-In 2017 is an opportunity for students to learn the value of dialogue, bridge differences, and create positive social change.”
—   Jeannette Riley, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Activities will be run from 11am-9pm on Wednesday, March 1st and 12:30pm-6:30pm on Thursday, March 2nd. For the complete schedule of events go to:

Admission to teach-in events is free and open to the public. All members of the university community and members of the larger community are welcome and encouraged to attend

Who will be presenting?

A variety of faculty and staff will present workshops and other presentations. Student groups will set up message tables. Student artists will display relevant work.

What is the goal of this program?

Explore the societal issues that have divided our country and community
Examine their own narratives
Learn from each other’s perspectives
Practice the art of dialogue
Take action to bridge differences and create change

Hopefully this teach-in can promote conversations, offer new perspectives, and educate those of us who are shaking in our boots with no idea what to do. Rather than fear, I want to feel confidence. I want to know that I, we, he, she, they, and everyone else can work together to push positive change forward.

What topics are being focused on?

Topics to be explored:
Racism – Activism – Religious Diversity – Mindfulness – Sexism – Transgender 101 – Power & Privilege – Standing Rock  – LGBTQ + Inclusivity – Feminism – Women’s Issues – Health Diversity – Immigration Policies – Social Justice – Ableism

Younger generations are constantly stereotyped as “not being politically aware” and “unaware of what’s going on in the real world”. The amount of times that I have been called ‘naive’ -with demeaning intentions- because of my hopes to improve our global community, pisses me off. Just because I’m not 50 years old doesn’t mean I don’t have the ability to be educated, educate myself, or experience and affect the world.

Time to change that. Lets show them we are aware, show them we know, we watch, we listen, we communicate, we’re involved. Show them…Show up. Share and learn about what we all post and read on Facebook, in person with each other instead.

How are the sessions organized?

The purpose of the initiative is to engage in civil discourse, so participation will be encouraged. Talks are designed to promote active civic engagement and open dialogue.

Want more info or hope to help organize and promote this event?
Contact the Student Affairs office at 508-910-6402.


Lisa Schiavone
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