A Brief Reflection on Dialogue and Teaching

When I was a student in graduate school for Social work, I took an extended course called “Training in Intergroup Dialogue Facilitation: Skills for Multicultural Social Work Practice.

I also had the wonderful opportunity of being able to be a facilitator in the Intergroup Social Change Agents program, a social justice and conflict resolution group that uses dialogue as a vehicle to build better relationships and repair damaged ones by seeking to increase understanding of ourselves and others.

These experiences have had an overwhelmingly positive impact on me; so much so that I continue to incorporate what I learned into my own Social Work practice today, and plan to continue to do so throughout my career and life in service as a Social Worker.

They helped me discover how important it is to continually “do our own personal work”; examining our experiences, thoughts and biases and how they impact our actions as practitioners.

Being able to return to the school years later as an alumi, and co-teach the Understanding Diversity and Social Justice Through Dialogue mini course has been very fulfilling for me.

It has allowed me to engage current students and foster the creation of an environment where they could safely explore their own experiences with their social identities and how those experiences have impacted their lives, as well as how their identities and experiences can influence their interactions with others in terms of understanding their role in the web of power, privilege and oppression.

In my experience there has been a real demand from students for more courses like this one, and I believe that is a very positive thing.

In addition to wishing that they had more time to dive deeper into dialogue, one of the strongest pieces of feedback I have received about the mini-course is that it should be a mandatory requirement for graduation.

Students are recognizing the value of this course, and want more.

They understand the importance of setting aside time to “do their own work”, and I hope to continue to be able to teach with them, and learn from them in future semesters.

Most importantly, I hope to continue to play a role in moving beyond the classroom and into communities for service.

I’ll always be grateful to my teachers and friends naomi warren and Mikel Brown for helping me to understand that we are all both teachers and learners, and for introducing me to such a wonderful way of communicating, building better relationships, and working toward social justice.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW, LLMSW



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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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