First Global Neighborhood House Dinner focuses on empathy

Students, faculty and staff enjoyed great food and discussed empathy and how to talk to each other across differences.

The first House Dinner for the Global Neighborhood was held Wednesday Sept. 5 in Lakeside. Jennifer Eidum, faculty director of the neighborhood, began by giving a brief history of the House Dinners and reminded students that food is more than just sustenance. Food can also be community, caring and action, and these principles are what the House Dinners embody, she said.

Students practice empathetic listening at the first Global Neighborhood House Dinner.
Judy Esposito, associate professor of human services studies and faculty-in-residence in Global, gave a short presentation about empathy. She began by showing a video by Brené Brown, professor of social work, that defined empathy and contrasted it with sympathy. Esposito then described how to listen empathetically. Empathy is about listening while not judging. The goal is to connect with the other person, not to share your opinion or to try to persuade the person to your viewpoint. One of the most important requirements for practicing empathy is being willing to slow down. It is hard for everyone to put aside distractions and stop multi-tasking so as to be fully present in a conversation.

Dinner attendees then practiced empathetic listening by participating in a guided activity. One person answered a personal question, a second person responded with empathy, and a third person observed the interaction. Then the roles shifted. The questions gave the respondents space to explore their feelings and vulnerabilities if they chose. Attendees were able to build trust and get to know each other better.

Students at the Global House Dinner enjoy delicious food as well as stimulating conversations.
The next Global House Dinner will be held Tuesday, Oct. 2 and will be led by the students of the International Living Learning Community.

The next Global activity, open to the whole campus, is the first film in the Global Neighborhood Film Series.  The film is “The Unafraid,” about three DACA students in Georgia who were prohibited by law from attending their state’s top public universities. The film explores their pursuit of education and their activism for themselves and their communities.

The film is co-sponsored by the International & Global Studies program and featured as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. The film will be shown on Tuesday Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. in Global Commons 103.