i-Three Issue Corps: Colorful yarn weaves a web of unity

Being mindful of our emotions can help us to gauge our own reactions to situations. When we understand why we react a certain way it can help us better articulate a response. Additionally, when we are able to take a step back from a high stress or confrontational situation and think about multiple perspectives, we are going to be more likely to defuse the situation peacefully. This is what emotional intelligence is all about.

My proposal for the Diversity & Inclusion Issue Corps is to develop modules for employees to facilitate workshops and sessions which will teach about emotional intelligence. When coupling the self-awareness we can achieve when being more emotionally intelligent with constructive coping techniques, a person is more likely to be able to monitor situations from a dual perspective and facilitate thoughtful conversations and plans with a more comprehensive approach.

When thinking about ways to promote diversity and inclusion it’s important to consider that while we are all uniquely amazing, we also share more than we realize. During a recent employee luncheon hosted by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Diversity Committee at the University of Delaware along with the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), we spent time discussing workplace bullying and discrimination. At the luncheon we discussed ways bystanders can assist victims of discrimination. I asked our facilitator to allow employees an opportunity to share times they have faced discrimination anonymously on note cards. These scenarios were shared at various tables and the employees were instructed to develop a plan of how they could’ve helped as a bystander.

While working as teams to better understand discrimination, we also asked each person to walk up to our unity web, a peg board with yarn. At each peg was an identifier like “I’m a parent” or “I identify as LGBTQ.” Each person picked a color of yarn and tied it around the center peg, then wrapped it around each peg they identified with. In the end, the peg board was beautiful. While each person chose to wrap their yarn around different pegs, they all ultimately ended up overlapping with another color. I got this idea from a larger unity project which I saw on YouTube.

We sent out a post event survey and received positive feedback from 33 of the 55 employees who attended. When asked if the content was relevant to their position within UD and eXtension, 93.9% said they agreed. When asked if the workshop stimulated learning 93.7% said they agreed. When asked if they better understood diversity and inclusion as a result of the workshop 93.7% said they agreed. When asked “Will anything that you learned at the workshop lead you to change your practice or behavior” one of our responses was, “It made me feel better to see how many people are against bigotry, but are too afraid to speak up. They’re intimidated, not apathetic. If I took initiative to defend someone, others might also be supportive if given the opportunity.”