Members of the community came together on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to discuss diversity at the “Navigating Differences” workshop at Living Well Winchester Center in Wabash.
Wabash County Purdue Extension Educator Teresa Witkoske and Purdue Extension Educator Steve Yoder facilitated the morning workshop. It was funded by a grant from Voices for Food, an organization that deals with food insecurity of which Witkoske is the local council chair.
According to Witkoske, the main objectives for the day were to help the participants identify what was diverse about them and how those characteristics influence the way they interact with the world around them. Witkoske, Yoder and the approximately 20-person group went through a series of activities designed to help them talk about differences and identify the benefits and conflicts that can arise from differences.
The participants were then asked to speak in small groups about the differences they each identified and answer a series of questions. Some spoke about their religious upbringings, others about political affiliations. The floor was then opened for group-wide discussion.
Yoder led the group in activities that had them lining up on an imaginary “spectrum” to answer certain questions and then discuss with people near-by. The group also went through scenarios and talked about strategies to handle conflicts that may result from clashing or differing opinions or backgrounds.
“I love these extension programs where the audience does the work,” Yoder said. “Their own personal culture, their experiences, it shapes their worldview.”