by: Ed Brantmeier
Mutual understanding is a two-way street concept, particularly in the context of cross-cultural exchange and communication. The two-way street concept is about learning from one another in authentic, relational ways that foster perspective consciousness (Hanvey, 1976) and deepened self-awareness. It is not simply about learning about “others” — a one-way street approach. In a two-way street approach, people with different primary cultures learn about “self” in the context of “other.” “Self”understanding and “other” understanding emerge from meaningful engagement over the course of time in cross-cultural exchange. Inner conflict and cultural conflict provide possibilities for transformative learning given the boundaries of “self” and “other” expand and contract by frolicking in one’s zone of disequilibrium.
Several May Symposium sessions offer two-way street and mutual understanding opportunities this year. Learn about the classroom and campus experiences of African-American students at JMU; brainstorm ways to be culturally engaging in your classrooms. The core mission of the Fulbright Program is to promote mutual understanding via citizen diplomacy; teach, research, and/or learn in another country. The Getting Serious with Your Fulbright session will give you the information and space you need to begin your Fulbright application process. The Noftsinger Celebration of Madison Scholarship will highlight scholarship from across campus and feature a “Diversity and Scholarship” table at the social mixer that will follow faculty performances from our colleagues in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Dispel myths and misconceptions in the Fact Vs. Fiction: Perceptions of Faculty, Students, and Disability Services session. Ask questions, brainstorm strategies, and learn about campus resources in this workshop.
When we reside near the edges of our own experiences and ways of knowing, new identities, opportunities, and synchronicities follow. Change is inevitable. Being open and hopeful in the face of change is promising.
In peace, Ed