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Talk Better Together

The core of interfaith leadership is organizing people to voice their values, engage with others, and act together on an important community issue. Talk Better Together brings diverse student voices together to discuss the kind of change they want to see in the world and what inspires them to act on those issues.

Getting started:

Start the event with a short introduction to the activity. Explain how this particular event supports students learning and engaging with each other.

Materials and People Needed: 

  • PowerPoint presentation, posters, or whiteboard with questions 
  • Microphone 
  • Sign-In Sheet 
  • Two event leaders to organize the circle, explain the activity, and read the questions

Safe Space

Setting a safe space for this activity is crucial because Talk Better Together intentionally focuses on personal topics. Explain to the participants that Talk Better Together should enable people from all backgrounds to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on values and experiences important to them. Ask for suggestions from the participants on safe space guidelines.

Common Safe Space Guidelines: 

  • Use of “I” statements (“I feel that ...”) 
  • You’re here for dialogue not debate 
  • Show respect for your fellow participants

The Format

Ask everyone to partner up with someone they don’t know. Once everyone has a partner, ask them to decide amongst themselves who will be a “1” and who will be a “2.” Then, tell participants to form two concentric circles—1s in the inner circle and 2s in the outer circle. Ask the first question, and give the pairs 3-4 minutes to discuss. Then, rotate the 2s to the right every five minutes, asking a new question each time.

The questions will start simply (What is your favorite movie? Where was the last place you traveled to?). As the questions progress, they should become more focused on the personal background and beliefs participants hold and how those personal experiences motivate them to work together for the common good.

Example Question Series

  1. What’s your favorite movie and why?
  2. Why did you come here tonight?
  3. Does the issue of [Better Together action issue] matter to your community? Does or has this issue impacted you personally?
  4. Is there anything in your religious, philosophical, or personal background that inspires you to take action on the issue of [action issue]?
  5. What are concrete ways you can act on these values to help address [action issue] in your community?

Finishing Up

Now break the circles up and ask the participants to talk to someone they didn’t talk to in the circle about something they learned, something they found inspiriing, or even just to finish a conversation from a previous question. Encourage participants to stick around and continue their conversations. To further the conversation even more, consider providing food, music, or other activities that will encourage the participants to stick around and hang out.

At the end of the event, make sure to include contact information for your group (email, Facebook page, and any other social media), info on future events you have planned, and other relevant information your group would like to share.