While on the way to a meeting this afternoon I found there was a scheduling mix-up. I ended up turning around to go home. While waiting for the bus I had a great opportunity to reflect on what would have been discussed, if the meeting had actually taken place.
I was going to meet to talk about acting as a Coach for the Milwaukee Mosaic Partnership program. Mosaic is a project to bring people together with the goal of fostering malty-racial interaction through individual and small group relationships. I helped facilitate a group of twenty-four persons during the 2007-2008 program and am looking forward to doing it again this Fall.
While waiting for the bus, at 35th and Wisconsin Avenues, I had a chance to sit with three African-American people with very different backgrounds than my own. From their discussion I learned at least one of them was a high-school drop-out. Two of the individuals had experienced job loss from poor attendance. All three peppered their dialogue with words I rarely speak within hearing of others.
While I like to think of myself as a social person I was clueless as to how to engage in polite conversation with this group. I realized my discomfort in this situation was over an inability to communicate. Fact is this was a very nice group of people. I know of many people who would be scared in this situation, I just don’t know why.
I’m looking forward to some of the deep discussions that will be a part of the Mosaic Partnership Program in the coming year. It is a great opportunity to face fears and prejudices in a safe setting. I am sure I will learn a lot and hopefully start some long-term relationships. I know however, the big challenge lies in chatting with people of different ethnic, educational, and economic backgrounds while sitting around waiting for the bus.