By Lynette Chappell-Williams
Chief Diversity Officer, Penn State Health
The Hershey All Things Diversity 2019 2020 program kicked off with the session, “The Importance of Stories in Understanding Each Other.” Facilitated by Dr. Paul Haidet of Penn State Health, and attended by more than 80 local community members, participants engaged in understanding the impact of people’s life stories and how our understanding of those stories or experiences impact our ability to interact with each other effectively.
The first interactive opportunity was an opportunity to role play a physician treating a Latino woman with a number of health challenges, who had also been wrongfully evicted from her home. Participants had the opportunity to discuss how to talk with the patient during her first visit, based on what she had shared.
Dr. Haidet then shared the Ted Talk, The Danger of the Single Story, in which Chimamanda Adichie shares the challenge of only knowing one story or one perspective. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
Following the video presentation, participants had the opportunity to think about a time that they had reduced a person or group of people to a single story (or perspective) but were able to break out of the pattern.
Dr. Haidet closed with challenging participants, at their next social gathering, to go through the evening without telling anyone anything but to instead only ask questions to gain a better understanding of each individual, and to ask additional open questions to deepen their understanding of each individual. The goal: open their minds to understand multiple narratives about others to build more inclusive, respectful relationships.
The Next Hershey Area All Things Diversity session will be November 13 from 5:30 – 7:30 at the Hershey Story Museum. The topic will be Understanding Boundaries in the Me Too Movement, with a focus on establishing respectful interactions based on what we have learned from the initiative on increasing awareness of sexual harassment.