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Office of Diversity and Inclusion


Welcome Table SC

Based on the immensely successful and internationally renowned program developed by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, the Welcome Table SC strives to help communities understand the importance of listening, storytelling and relationship-building as prerequisites to producing real and measurable change.

Upcoming Phase One Community Circles

Choose which circle you want to join by submitting the participation form located on the right side of the page.  

Fall 2018 – Option 1
Runs September 4 through October 9
Meets on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Fall 2018 – Option 2
Runs September 8 through October 13
Meets Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

 

Origins

In the aftermath of the tragedy at Mother Emanuel in 2015 we determined that the University of South Carolina has a unique opportunity to bring our communities together and engage one another in an honest dialogue about race, racism and its impact on defining who we are as a university, state, and country.  We understood that we couldn’t begin earnest steps toward reconciliation if we weren’t first committed to opening avenues for meaningful conversations that help us to understand one other and the challenges that we face.  We were led to Dr. Susan Glisson, The William Winter Institute (at the University of Mississippi) and the process for community dialogue that she created called The Welcome Table.

One of the first steps we took was to begin learning how to facilitate The Welcome Table sessions. That work began two summers ago when Dr. Glisson and her partner Mr. Charles Tucker come to South Carolina to train our first facilitators. 

 

How it Works

The Welcome Table is a process designed to help create relational trust, unity, teamwork and cohesiveness through a group of community members who want to improve racial relations and other problems in their communities. Participants learn better ways to communicate with each other and practice deep listening, which leads to better communication through the telling of our individual stories.

Stories are central to the Welcome Table process. They provide a glimpse into each other’s experiences and hearts which creates a space for deeper learning and cooperation based on our common humanity. 

As communities express interest in addressing inherited racial and ethnic division, the SC Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation supports the creation of a local group to address local issues. As participants indicate a readiness to engage in a long-term process of local engagement, education and training, the Institute offers a retreat to deepen the process.

The retreat component is used demonstrate and model behaviors that the participants will later learn to replicate. More importantly, it enables the participants to experience the safety that is necessary for truly open and honest communication, and development of relational trust. 

By the end of the retreat, participants will begin to develop closer relationships and expand their ability to access the human capital in themselves and in their communities by learning to see beyond cultural and ethnic barriers to tap the resources that are already present.

While it is not the purpose of the retreats to address specific issues in the community, it does seek to prepare the team members to address those problems as a unit open to all possibilities when they return home.

After the retreat, the teams are offered additional education and training in community building. But it is up to them to set the pace and accept or decline the offer.

What Makes Our Approach Unique

Many great organizations focus on systemic change without including trust-building and relationships. As a result, thier accomplishments are sometimes unsustainable because we often will not work with those we do not trust.

Others focus on relationship building, but do not carry their work into a movement towards social justice or understanding systemic oppression.

Relationship building and work for positive social change are hallmarks of the Welcome Table, which works to bridge the divide between racial equity and racial healing. 

How You Can Participate

If you are interested in participating, please complete the participation form and join one of our scheduled circles. The Welcome Table SC is for anyone who is interested in committing to change and social justice.

Funding for the Collaborative is based on contributions from philanthropic, religious and business communities and from private individuals.
Support the Collaborative and Welcome Table SC »