The University of Central Arkansas Outreach and Community Engagement is planning its final Conway Conversations event for March 9.
Director of Service-Learning Lesley Graybeal said this event will be a facilitation training event and have invited community leaders and members of education, faith and civic groups in Conway and throughout central Arkansas to come to the all-day training to learn how to facilitate difficult conversations.
She said they are bringing in a trainer, Tatyana Fertelmeyster, the founder and principal of Connecting Differences, LLC, a nationally and internationally recognized expert in intercultural communication, diversity and inclusion, global agility development and facility for multicultural groups.
Graybeal said they are expecting close to 40 participants which include city and chamber officials from here in Conway, representatives for the local school board and other high education institutions within the state.
Graybeal previously told the Log Cabin Democrat that was the reason they started Conway Conversations was to create a starting point for people to begin difficult talks about a wide array of topics that are affecting society as a whole.
“We definitely started this series because after the 2016 election, it was a very difficult election season in terms of the types of conversations people were having and the type of negative atmosphere that was created by that,” she said. “I think we [saw] a need for people to come together with people who were different than them and just have open and honest conversations about their own feelings, their own identities [and] their own experiences in their community.”
Graybeal said they felt that people weren’t going to be able to move forward on any kind of political or social issue that concerned them if they weren’t able to have discussions with people with different views.
“The intention was just to provide a space for people to come together and have dialogue across differences so to be able to talk to people who are different than you about issues that are important to you because we all have to be able to have difficult conversations sometimes in order to all feel at home and respected in our community,” she said.