Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Gabriela Acosta Camacho, a representative from the Inclusive Pathway Training (IPT) program in which our team recently participated as part of a symposium organized by the lectorate Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts. This meeting served as a follow-up to our initial training. During our meeting, Gabriela asked questions about what we’ve learned, how we’re currently doing, and what our future objectives are regarding to the IPT training.
Upon reflecting on the impact of the Inclusive Pathway Training (IPT), several key insights emerged:
- An enhanced awareness of the critical role ‘landing’ plays when engaging with new groups.
- An emphasis on the significance of being fully present and attentive during group interactions.
- Increased self-awareness regarding personal ‘pet peeves,’ serving as a window into understanding our own triggers.
- The importance on making a connection beyond words.
- The importance of physical activities to release emotional pressure
When reflecting on our current situation, it’s evident that WdKA has made steps in various areas. For instance, since January 2021, we established an Office for Inclusivity. Two new staff members supported with a student assistant wrote an advisory report and they are supporting existing groups/initiatives, and facilitating new groups/initiatives, for and by WdKA students and staff. They are doing work on diversifying the student/staff body and decolonising the curriculum. In response to this advisory report, the management team has formulated an action plan that outlines the steps to be taken and their corresponding timelines. Despite these advances, I believe we still face challenges in establishing a baseline for our efforts and effectively engaging those who may be reluctant to participate in activities and events.
Gabriela described how a dance department underwent a significant transformation when they implemented an IPT-program for all tutors and students. The main objective was to cultivate a more open community and to learn and discover how the IPT could be useful for their practice. She shared anecdotes about students who, in their roles as (dance)teachers, found themselves in challenging situations in their workfields: how could they create a more supportive culture for sharing personal experiences with their peers and teachers? The initiative came from a programme-leader who initiated the programme that led to impressive results. To document the process, they made a series of podcast episodes that you can listen to here.
Gabriela also introduced us to a developed reflection tool structured around five pillars that the lectorate uses as their base: Relationality, Temporality, Joy, Transformation, and Cost. These topics can be explored in any sequence and are accompanied by targeted questions designed to deepen our understanding of the participants’ values within the project. It’s an interesting tool that uses physical space for participants to express their position.
Examples of questions per topic are:
– Relationality: how do we stay engaged in relation, even when it gets discomfortable?
– Costs: What sacrifices are we making in terms of money, time, (emotional) energy etc.
– Transformation: How does transformation take place; on what scale, how, or where does it manifest?
– Temporality: We never depart from a ‘zero-pint’. What stories (norms, values, standards, legacies) where there before we entered the story-situation?
– Joy: How does, including the question of joy, influence our decision-making?
Gabriela’s questions and contributions during the meeting reinforced my belief that embedding EDI-changes in our organization requires more than action-plans and grassroot initiatives. It requires a big collaborative effort for which substantial funding is inevitable. I’m happy to have gained new practical insights in how such a transformative process can be designed, and I look forward to exploring applications for the reflection tool.