Sharing Our Stories, Roots of Understanding
For people of various heritages, cultures, and backgrounds
Powerful Interactive Seminar by Communication Specialist Dr. Dolly Haik-Adams Berthelot 2002

When diverse people communicate about real experience, miracles can happen. Stories are key.

Vague generalizations may prompt yawns, and fierce opinions may merely stir controversy. In contrast, sharing real life experiences, true stories, humanizes the teller and brings his or her family, heritage, and culture to life. This makes each person's reality both accessible and authentic for others who may be--or who may think themselves--different. Such sharing can foster mutual appreciation for rich diversity and, paradoxically, forge bonds of commonality--across various ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles, and other human differences.

Dr. Dolly's "Roots of Understanding™" and her longer "CommUNITY Dialogues™" process help participants explore and share in a safe, stimulating environment. Participants reflect, recall, reveal (as they choose), and learn about themselves; they listen and learn about others.

One black person tells how being called "Nigger" in childhood pushed him through college but left scars into middle age. A priest from Jamaica notes how different he feels from African Americans, less angry, too, because he chose to come here. An African American woman reared by physician parents in New Orleans turns stereotypes topsy-turvy by describing her social debut. A white factory worker tells what it felt like to lose his job to black men and to women. A native Louisianan admits that traveling the world helped her see her roots and her region with a fresh eye, both critical and appreciative.

A German-American shares the pain of "guilt by association" with Hitler and the holocaust while admiring her devoted, hardworking single parent grandma (see Dr. Dolly's "German Gift" from her memoirs in progress). An American Jew, a natural storyteller, manages to make everyone laugh even while personalizing the unspeakable holocaust horrors his family have endured. In amusing, provocative mini-stories, a writer portrays her Italian-American kinfolks that are so like HBO's "Sopranos," and yet so different.

One person talks bitterly about the domination of his father's Catholic faith; another shows how that same faith has bolstered her spirit and shaped her success. A Pentecostal teacher explains why she looks as she does, in spite of taunts. An atheist shows how his perspective has actually helped him make ethical decisions. They find a common passion in fishing!

Several Americans with family roots in various parts of Asia compare notes on the tensions between their parents' "old ways" and their own urge to be fully American. A Japanese-American businessman's parents were interned in the U.S. during WWII (see also Sharing WWII Experiences); a naturalized Vietnamese citizen fled his home with only a sack of basics and a heart of fear and hope; a 3rd generation Chinese woman admits she still feels alien; a Taiwanese-American's scholarship to Columbia gave him a future greater than his dreams.

An Egyptian pilot reveals how September 11 has shattered his life, his dreams, his future. He grieves for our country, even as his looks prompt distrust in some Americans. A genealogist whose grandparents emigrated from Lebanon, a professor with ancestors from Iran, and a Jewish grandmother share sadness that Mid-East turmoil discourages them from exploring their roots in person. (See Roots of Understanding™ especially for Americans of Mid-Eastern heritage)

Sharing holiday traditions uncovers fascinating differences and poignant similarities.

After the group has conjured up memories, shared stories, and listened to the vivid tales of others, they each understand themselves, their culture, other participants--and therefore other people--a little better. They are more aware of faulty assumptions and biases, more proud of their own heritage, paradoxically, as they become more appreciative of others. Everyone wins. They leave enriched, inspired, enlightened...

Many have gained fresh perspective and examined rich, revealing stories which, when written, will humanize the vital but too often dry facts of family history and genealogy.

Such multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lifestyle interactions may stand alone in a 3-hour to 5-day session or be part of Dr. Dolly's "CommUNITY Dialogues™, Communicating to Create Unity in Diversity," a transformative, in-depth group process which may be activated in your community for up to a year.

Roots of Understanding™ participants may also build on this interactive experience by taking other Mine Your Memories™, Share Your Stories, Write Your Life courses; enjoy private consultation and guidance from Dr. Dolly; write down their rich experiences themselves; or have Dr. Dolly interview them and write for them. See A Pro Will Write for You. Whichever approach is taken, writing assures that these valuable stories are preserved; this multiplies the benefits for individuals and benefits for groups.

All services are fully guaranteed to your satisfaction.

Mine Your Memories™ is an affiliate of Berthelot Consulting, Pensacola, FL.
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