The ADA Workshop – Applied Diversity Awareness – in Enschede was focusing on reflection and self-assessment of observed issue that each group defined and specified before the observation.
Each team (divided in two) could pick time and place for reflections; organizing insights into common themes between the team members and record it.
When we started our tour/visit it was an interesting feeling to know that we ourselves could also be the object of observation, because we noticed that everyone looks at everyone and writes down something. In fact, this proved to be correct at the end- one group actually did the observation of others.
Interesting, all groups defined different issues to observe. Some of them were observing behaviour of people in Syrian Orthodox monastery and some of them were more into behaviour of our guide. One group was looking for minority presence, one pedestrian crossing, and one for curtains. One group was making connection between art and diversity.
Seemingly harmless comparisons showed, at the end, when groups did the presentation that diversity is mainly about observation and reflection. All of us had assumptions and expectations based on previous experience which triggered the reflection (e.g. searching for minorities who are in certain part of the city behaving like we are used to it in our domicile).
It was interesting to see how groups were playing “what-if” games, questioning their main issue during reflection process (e.g. privacy diversity based on assumption that there is a lack of privacy because there are no curtains on windows; and later realizing that the assumption was wrong based just on counting the curtains).
Observations like looking at how someone is welcoming us, introduction themselves, greetings they use, in which order they seat like e.g. the observation in Syrian Orthodox monastery challenged many questions about hierarchy, openness of community, interactions between people and much more.
Cultural differences in communication were most pronounced in observation of our guide. It was interesting to see insights of the group that observed how did she talk, behave and gesticulate when we were at the Museum, when we visit the place of the tragic explosion in Enschede and when she talked about architecture and rebuilding the district.
All the teams were very open and honest about reflection and observations, but it was not easy to do so, as reflection process tends to be private with a reason. It was obviously that same unsafe feelings appeared within groups like question and differences regarding privacy access within homes, strange feeling when someone is evaluating you, traffic safety behaviour due to observation of traffic signs, pedestrian crossings, limitation of speed or even a question about access for people with disabilities. Reflection also questioned diversity in education and the meaning of it, just by observing art installation that one team issued.
Practical reflection exercise truly opened some private divergent thinking of all of us and also gave us insight about ourselves by reflecting on past experience.
At the end, we did reflecting reflection in form of 10 minutes presentation that we did with all group members which gave us insights that helped us to better understand, critical reflect on our observation process based on declared issues and lead us to better understanding of a past experience (reactive) in order to be forward-looking (proactive) in self-assessment.