Workshop 3 - Seeing Beyond "Us vs Them": Building an inclusive educational institution

What happens when different groups of individuals have to learn to live or work together in the same environment? Why does polarization (us/them, either/or thinking) happen and what problems does it cause?

The Covid 19 crisis has brought polarization to the forefront of our daily interactions with people who think, act and behave differently from each other and hold opposing viewpoints and approaches to the personal, professional and public realms.

How to manage the stress of polarization and how to function when it surrounds us is now a necessary, but underdeveloped skill for many of us.

In this workshop, you will gain a better understanding of the complex notion of polarization, by examining polarizing moments that stem from our emotional feelings and perceptions about the world around us.  Through a simulation, you’ll have an opportunity to practice active listening to other people’s experiences that may be different from your own. You will take into account what it means to bridge worldviews in order to work together respectfully and effectively. Together, we’ll learn strategies for managing emotional responses and practicing more empathy and compassion to diffuse polarizing situations and commit to creating a more inclusive environment for all differences.

Moderator: Mengyuan Yang, AFS China


  • Marcela Lapertosa, Value Learning
  • Fran Baxter, Value Learning
  • Anaïs Chauvet, AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc.