Daybreak club seeks to bridge gaps through conversationDec 02, 2022 01:06PM ● By Rachel Aubrey
By Rachel Aubrey | [email protected]
The Daybreak for Diversity and Inclusion Club held its first Human Conversations event on Nov. 12 at the Daybreak Community Center. Patterned after the Human Libraries that began in the year 2000 in Denmark, the event brought people from all different backgrounds to have open dialogue with their neighbors and to satisfy curiosities in a safe space.
The club, run by Daybreak residents, selected 16 “humans,” individuals of different beliefs, ethnicities and affiliations, to talk with interested participants in an effort to help bridge gaps of understanding and bring awareness. The event followed a speed-dating format, giving each participant 15 minutes to have a conversation with one of the 16 humans. At the end of the 15 minutes, the participant could then switch to another table with another human.
Daybreak resident Sue Martin was one of the participants that day, going from table to table to talk with individuals who might appear different on the outside, but are nonetheless human, and therefore the same on the inside.
“The more events we have like these, the less we have to overcome in our perceptions of each other,” Martin said.
One of the humans was Dr. Russell Gaede, a therapist, author, runner and someone who lives with Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes physical tics, or twitches of movement. Dr. Gaede admitted that he could remember some of his condition beginning at age eight, and that often times the physical manifestations of the condition are merely “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of what people can see happening. Although a high school dropout, Dr. Gaede went on to receive a doctorate in Psychology and taught courses at Utah Valley University. He is an author and long-distance runner.
“Having Tourette’s doesn’t mean swearing all the time,” Gaede said. “Just ask my wife.”
Another human was Josie Jesse, who in 2018 became the first patient at the University of Utah to have gender confirmation surgery. A “proud Airforce veteran,” Jesse also lives proudly as a transgendered woman. She said that the Daybreak community was very supportive of her and helped to take care of her when many others, family included, would not. That support is not something she was accustomed to. She said that events like Human Conversations are so needed because society still has a long way to go. She has a website called Real Talk with Josie.
Some of the humans brought artifacts with them, tangible things that represent their background, interests or beliefs. Nahe Foley had plenty of items on her table. A Native Hawaiian who was born on the Big Island of Hawaii, Foley has spent most of her childhood years and adulthood years in Utah. As a ticketing agent for Delta Airlines, Foley displayed a model Delta airplane on one end of her table, and Hawaiian implements on the other end. She wanted to participate to share not only about her culture, but also how she has been able to keep her culture despite being so far from the islands.
A member of the Daybreak for Diversity and Inclusion club, Nycole Rosen helped to plan and organize the event, along with her fellow club members. Rosen said she observed tears shed, hugs given and heartfelt conversations happening, and looks forward to the next time the event is held.
“I would love nothing more than to see this type of event hosted in every city and every community,” Rosen said. “I think it’s important for all of us.”
Rosen said she was pleased with the turnout, noting that there were 51 people who came and participated. The free event was advertised on the Daybreak Community Facebook page but was open to all adults who wished to converse. Those 12 and older were encouraged to have a parent attend.
To learn more about events and activities in Daybreak by the various clubs visit www.mydaybreak.com/get_involved/community_clubs/index.php