The room was bustling and the staff was generous as everyone began to settle down before Speak Up, Speak Out started. The event was held by the Office of Intercultural Engagement and the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement on Monday, Aug. 20 from noon to 1 p.m. in EUC Maple.
The purpose of this event was to build relationships, and teach students how to communicate through speaking and listening as both a student and as a campus leader- and it did exactly that.
Many guests seemed a bit hesitant to engage with their fellow peers, but within minutes, almost everyone there was asking questions and smiling away as they filled out their board.
The evening started with a game of blackout bingo, where students had to fill out an entire board of bingo to win. The prize? A free Bluetooth speaker.
As the event began, the staff asked a variety of questions to the students seated at their tables. The questions ranged from, “Where did you learn to listen?” to “How do you feel when you are in conflict with someone?”
In the section about listening, the students discussed how to listen to other people, and how to make others feel actively heard.
Non-verbal actions and cues such as a head nod, the raising of your eyebrows and a soft smile when you agree with something are a few things that were mentioned. Posture was yet another big factor.
This also led to some questions about what to do with one’s body in these situations.
Does one cross their arms or leave them to their sides? Do they put their hands in their pockets or make a hand gesture when the other person agrees with them?
The last section revolved around conflict. How do you feel when you are in conflict? Are you one to search for conflict? Students were against looking for conflict, knowing full well that there are consequences, whether that conflict is with a friend or a coworker. When it came to family, it was different.
“With my mom, I can’t get mad or anything, I want to avoid conflict with her,” Tyler, a 19-year-old freshman, said with a smile on his face, “she’s my mom so she’s in a higher position than me and I got to respect that.”
After all was said and done, I sat down with three UNCG seniors, Serene, Tom and Belle, all of whom enjoyed the event.
“I was just tagging along with them,” Tom explained, “everything here blew my mind.”
What Belle enjoyed was other people’s perspectives that were expressed verbally rather than through another medium.
For Serene, it was somewhat the same. “I go to a lot of these events, I just went to one the other day… I wish it was more different.”
She explained how she has been to similar events and how she wishes that the ideas expressed within these activities differed. She elaborated a little more, saying that because there aren’t many people with too many different ideas, these events seem repetitive. Nonetheless, she enjoyed it and would attend another one.
Many walked out of Speak Up, Speak Out with smiling faces and with food-for-thought as they interacted between each other through dialogue which revolved around listening, speaking and conflict. As the world around us seems to become more and more divided, it is key to engage with each other not just respectfully but with an open mind and open ears. Speak Up, Speak Out taught us just that.
The Office of Intercultural Engagement will be hosting another event in which equity and wellness of genders will be discussed on Aug. 28 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Alumni House.
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