Evelyn is an event coordinator at Utrecht in Dialoog. When she came to Utrecht from the UK to study a Masters in Intercultural Communication, she gravitated towards dialogue, both as a way to meet new people in the city and an opportunity to learn from different cultural perspectives, experiences and opportunities . In addition to coordinating dialogue events, she is also learning to facilitate dialogues in English and Dutch. She has also decided to conduct her internship and graduation research at Utrecht in Dialogue into inclusion in multilingualism.
Room for creativity
For me, dialogue is about striving for open-mindedness and understanding by asking questions. It means asking questions to understand the experiences of others and to challenge my own opinions and prejudices. From a cultural perspective, this means de-centring myself and understanding that my ways of doing, seeing and feeling are just one among many others.
Dialogue also creates space for a kind of conversation and reflection that you do not find anywhere else in everyday life. Having room to express yourself without expectations, requirements, or goals is not only liberating, but also promotes a kind of creative thinking that cannot be achieved in the busy schedule of a workday or within the formal structures of an essay or report.
Positive impact on everyday life
I participated in an online dialogue about creativity during lockdown. It was a unique topic and first and foremost allowed us to all be very honest about our feelings and experiences with lockdown. We were able to share both the negative and positive sides of this unusual time and it felt very easy to open up to each other. In addition, the topic produced quite concrete results, as we were able to exchange ideas about activities that kept us creative during this time and that the others could put into practice. These varied from crafts and cooking to writing letters and programming concerts. In this way, this session combined the best aspects of a good dialogue – connection and openness on an emotional level and positive results that I could immediately integrate into my daily life.
Better connected with the world
Whenever I leave a dialogue, I feel stimulated by my interaction with other participants. I feel strongly connected to the people I talk to and I notice this after the dialogue in other aspects of my life. This makes me feel more connected to the world around me and the people I meet in it.
In a world that often feels overwhelming, dialogue gives me a place to start and the motivation to put ideas into action. I think that’s because it reminds me what’s important, which is (to me) people. People with all their similarities and their differences!
More diversity & inclusion against polarisation
The future of dialogue for me lies in creating more diverse dialogue tables. It is not enough to involve more people without involving diversity in age, ethnicity, educational background, culture, language, sexual orientation, religion and political affiliation. Through inclusion, dialogue will continue to combat polarization. This will be done by connecting people to come up with creative ideas and start new initiatives, by creating space for people to reflect on their opinions and by giving participants the tools to understand others with whom they never expected to have anything in common.