Good Relations Training

 This past week, I headed out to one of my community organization’s centers for the first time. That was an adventure in and of itself, since I had absolutely no clue where I was going. One of the staff members ended up picking me up, because I was given bad directions and ended up somewhere that I really couldn’t walk to the center.

In the car though, I was told about community I would be in. It’s very Protestant Loyalist. Because of that at center you don’t really talk about religion. But, the center is also the one that produced really neat fliers about not judging people based on their religion- so obviously they’ve had lots of lessons on not judging people, but somehow there still isn’t a enough of a culture shift amongst the young people to make religion not taboo.

Later in that evening, there was supposed project with the young people, but only one showed up. She complained that the projects are always the same, and that they aren’t what the young people want to do. One of her complaints was that they have good relations shoved down their throats all the time, and that she, at the very least, was sick of it.

That conversation showed me that good relations work doesn’t seem practical to the young people in that community. They get taught by school and organizations all the time that they shouldn’t stereotype, but they go home and their families stereotype, and they do not have all that much interaction with Catholics or Nationalists, so it doesn’t mean all that much to them. This points me to the legitimacy of Contact Theory, the idea that if there is regulated contact between conflicting groups they will begin to humanize each other. I think this community shows how necessary it is for groups to not just get lectured about how they need to have good relations, but they really do need to interact, otherwise there is no point to the lecture.

by Hannah Kurtz

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