Month 2: Overcoming Fear of the “Other”

PRACTICE

Reflections of Our Ancestors

Break into groups of three. Facilitator to read the following:

Within most of us lies the capacity to fear the “other”. In times of confusion and stress, some of us might turn toward the hope of strong leaders, military and police forces to build bigger walls to keep out the “other”. Researchers say that the “other” can be anyone that our community or the media have stirred us up to believe is the “other”. We believe it is crucial that we practice and tell the stories that counteract the tendency for ‘othering’.

We’d like to start by taking two minutes to learn more about each other here today by inviting each person to share a response to the following:

“Going back, as far as you can, what do you know of your ancestors, where they came from and what their lives were like? What feelings, of pride, or of sadness, or any other feelings come to you as you reflect on your ancestry?”

(Use a timer at two minute intervals. After ~ six minutes, when the group has all shared, come back together and take five minutes to hear just a few reflections of what people learned or how they were touched.)

Next we will read today’s parable and reflect slowly. Let the words touch you. We reflect here for these few minutes, less in a book club kind of way, and more in a savoring of a text kind of way. I will read it slowly. Note anything that touches you. When I finish reading we will go around the circle and I’ll ask everyone to share just a word or a phrase that stood out for them. Then we’ll conclude.

PARABLE

Vancity Credit Union: Offering Financial Support to Refugees

Vancity is a 500,000 member credit union — a financial institution that provides banking services and lending services to Canadians. During the exodus of refugees from Syria Vancity made the announcement that though the federal government typically requires government assisted refugees to cover their trip costs to Canada in the form of a loan with interest, Vancity would offer any refugee family a “travel loan” that would buy out their federal government loans at zero interest, giving refugees more flexibility, over the long term, as they settled into Canada to make it their home. Vancity also announced they would offer interest free loans up to $50,000 for any Canadian family to do home remodels and upgrades – to ready a suite, an apartment, or a room, to welcome a refugee or refugee family to stay with them.

Vancity also took it upon themselves to invite other financial institutions and other businesses to join them in welcoming these families to Canada through making their goods or services available in ways that could help these families to settle.

Finally, Vancity took on the publicity task of communicating widely that refugees and immigrants help local economies. That they buy local goods. That they are highly self-employed and that they are more entrepreneurial in general. In fact, they reminded everyone, refugees and immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business, and that they then hire other locals. Studies show that immigrants create more new jobs per person in each place that they move. One study of Lebanese immigrants to Canada showed that in areas where immigrants moved, over time, 3.6 new jobs were created in the area for each new immigrant who relocated to the community.

Wrapping Up Your Circle

Facilitator: Now starting on my left, can we hear a word or phrase from each person? Something that stood out or touched you.

(Facilitator might want to model by starting first, then go around the circle.) 

Thank you. I invite and encourage you all to use these practices & parables in other settings – staff meetings, or at group gatherings with other business and community leaders. We are joining hundreds, hopefully soon thousands, of other communities in doing this. Together, we can choose to meet these times with courage, and we can #ChooseConnection.

Share Your Stories

Have a story about how your company is defying “business as usual” or how the members of your circle develop a new tool or process to help others? Please share your stories so others may be inspired by your experience. We welcome you to email us stories, feedback, or photos at any time. On social media, use the tag #ChooseConnection so we can repost.