On the February 17, 2017, I attended a community conversation in Rosedale as a table host of a World Cafe, about the betterment of Minnesota education. A World Cafe is a way to have multiple conversations with a different combination of people regarding one topic. Table hosts encourage conversations in each round of World Cafe, each round asking a different question. At the beginning of a round, the people at the table go to a new table, creating a new mix of people per table each time. However, the table host remains at the same table, participating in and directing conversations. In each round participants are provided a section on a paper to write, draw, and express any main ideas talked about in the session. I was lucky enough to participate as a student table host, from Minneapolis North.
The conversations were all regarding the education system in Minnesota. I was able to express my views on the issues at my specific school. At each session the adults at my table continued to listen to my thoughts, shared their own viewpoints, and listened to one another. The conversation continued in a positive direction as people shared ideas and ranted about their individual concerns. People of all races, nationalities, sexuality, and religion joined together to talk about the common concerns of public schooling in Minnesota.
A specific conversation that I was able to lead about my school, left me relieved to know the adults I was talking to supported me. I talked about the umbrella of racism and how education falls under it. I expressed my specific concerns with the lack of accountability teachers seem to hold students to because of the pity they have for the impoverished students of color. I was able to explain my frustration with the standards my peers and I were being held to simply because of teachers wanting to create equality, but instead setting us up for failure.
The adults included superintendents, board directors, parents, and teachers from the community. Their interest and understanding reassured me that there are good people working for me and working to support me. They listened to what I had to say and also agreed with me. World Cafe conversations are important for that exact reason: it brings people together to talk about issues that affect us and ways to fix them.