Writing and Media Center hosted the latest speaker series event focused on communicating with empathy | News

Jordan Brooks explained how self-expression is routinely and historically suppressed in black communities.

Self-expression, accepting mistakes and taking time to slow down and be present were just some of the topics discussed at Monday’s Speaker Series event hosted by the Iowa Writing and Media Center. State.

The final and final event in the speaker series, focusing on communication justice, was titled “Communicating with Empathy: Relationality and Creativity in Contemporary Learning”. The event included three panelists who each discussed their own experience of communicating with empathy through language and art: Jordan W. Brooks, Director of Equity, Inclusion and Student Success multicultural for the Iowa State College of Design and founder of KNWSLF, a design brand, Mani Mina, associate professor of industrial design and electrical and computer engineering and Lucia M. Suarez, associate professor of Latin Spanish studies and director of the U.S. Latino/a Studies Program in the Department of World Languages ​​and Cultures.

Brooks on reflection, identity and self-expression

Brooks, who worked in residential life at a former job, said he was having a conversation with college students in 2015 when he realized he wasn’t practicing self-love, which started his journey with creativity and self-expression.

“I have come to discover that I believe we engage in creative ways to gain knowledge, develop wisdom, practice self-love, and engage [in] fellowship with each other,” Brooks said. “If we use our expression, use our creative and other languages ​​in this way, not only does it help us build who we are as individuals, builders in our community, it also helps us to be connected and interconnected with each other. others .”

After beginning his journey with creativity and finding his identity, Brooks said he began to frequently engage in creative self-reflection by following drawing instructions. According to him, he made an important realization by making these prompts: the energy through a visual or artwork can be transferred to someone else.

“But this act of sharing and transmitting this energy through this visual representation is a powerful thing and worth respecting,” Brooks said.

An example of what Brooks said was the energy he felt through the art created by his ancestors, whether through poetry, art, or music. According to him, this energy is what helped him begin to explore how black identities develop.

Brooks said that throughout history black voices have been continually suppressed. He said the first thing people try to take away is someone’s self-expression. Because of this, Brooks takes on the challenge of boldly expressing himself in his art, as he connects his story to those of the past and future.

“Art itself again tells a story. It goes back to that piece of raw energy, the energy of that movement,” Brooks said. “The reason behind it is put and infused into the art.”

Mina on Mistakes Made and Celebrated

Mina, who has been a lifelong learner, said he always asks people who have mastered their traits how they “get so good.” According to them, the answer is simple: they make a lot of mistakes.

“So the way to know and the way to grow is mistakes, which means they hurt college,” Mina said.

According to Mina, professors and teachers should encourage students to share their mistakes so that they can grow and learn from them. Mina said that instead of punishing students for their mistakes, they should be celebrated as a learning opportunity.

Mina said mistakes happen because everyone is human and humanity is flawed. This begs the question: how do you celebrate the humanity in everyone?

“You do it in the community,” Mina said. “You are born on the language culture of the community…You celebrate those who are struggling the most because they probably asked better questions.”

Mina said that’s what education is all about, to celebrate the human and the voice of every student.

Suarez on connective and transformative learning

Suarez, a Cuban immigrant, said her upbringing shaped her teaching style today. She said that after her family moved to the United States in an immigrant community in New York, her environment was constantly dynamic and changing. This got her interested in trying to connect with everyone around her. This is reflected in his teaching style today.

“My research is about trying to understand, trying to connect my communities, my neighbors, the friendships. Who is my friend and how can I understand his family, right?” Suarez says. is what I always try to bring to class when I teach.”

Suarez said an important part of his teaching is listening and hearing other people’s stories. Suarez also mentioned the importance of listening to other people’s stories when discussing the books she has written. Suarez mentioned three books: “The Tears of Hispaniola: Memory of the Haitian and Dominican Diaspora”, “Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World” and “Dancing Bahia: Essays on Afro-Brazilian Dance, ‘education, memory and race’.

According to her, the challenges she faced while writing “Dancing Bahia” were ones that shaped her way of looking at teaching and storytelling – she couldn’t write other people’s stories.

“Because what happened was that I absolutely loved the stories that these people had to tell,” Suarez said. “And it was just that it was wrong for me to tell their stories, and that’s fine as ethnographers, as cultural studies scholars, we collect stories and we tell them, but it’s also very important that we collect stories, and we let the people whose stories they have share their stories.

Suarez said she was trying to introduce this idea into her class. According to her, her classroom is a sacred space where any question can be asked and any story can be told. She also stressed the importance for teachers and students to learn from each other.

“I learn from you. You learn from me, we learn from each other,” Suarez said. “And it’s not just in the classroom space, but really beyond [the classroom].”

You can watch the conference here.

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