Princeton students regroup for facilitation training with RCF

A small group of students from Princeton University regrouped online last week for a digital workshop with staff from the Rose Castle Foundation.

The students are all members of the Princeton University Rose Castle Society (PRCS), which was set up following a residential programme in Cumbria in 2019, as part of RCF’s partnership with Princeton’s Office of Religious Life.

PRCS's aim is to promote dialogical and relationship-based approaches to finding ways to live justly and well together in spite of violent histories and/or foundational disagreements.

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Students from the Princeton Rose Castle Society at a residential programme in Cumbria in 2019.

Last week’s workshop equipped the PRCS representatives with practical skills of facilitation and opened space for them to think creatively about being facilitators in their own context and on campus.

This was achieved by helping participants to explore their own biases and assumptions in order to enable them to bring their whole selves into the facilitation space.

Reflecting on the workshop, one student commented: “This workshop has refreshed my conception of reconciliation and the role of a facilitator […] The workshop has also deepened my sense of what it means to bring my own personal touch to the table when it comes to the project of dialogue and facilitation.”

Another added: “I have a better understanding of the challenges that I would have as a facilitator and the importance of having a partner who has different strengths than me. I am also excited (and a little nervous) to start the actual process of having sessions and facilitating.”

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PRCS representatives Maryam, Naomi, Esha, Myles, and Bradley during an online facilitation workshop with staff from the Rose Castle Foundation and Alison Boden, Dean of the Office of Religious Life at Princeton University.

Moving forward, PRCS hopes to build a culture surrounding dialogue that is more mindful of the legitimacy of difference, to start conversations that deepen how people see the world, to promote values of reconciliation such as active listening, and to provide a space where people can engage in dialogue without any social repercussions and learn how to better express their views and listen to others’ views.

Speaking after the workshop, RCF’s Programmes Facilitator, Phoebe Dill, noted: “It was amazing to hear the thoughtfulness, care and consideration that the Princeton Rose Castle Society has taken as a group to how they engage with these difficult conversations on campus, and the need to connect across divides.”

“For part of discussion, we really deep-dived into what they could practically run on campus to provide spaces for challenging and often overlooked conversations, and to hear some their vision was really exciting! This is a group of very inspiring individuals who no doubt will go on to be movers and changers in their communities.”

The next cohort of the Princeton Rose Castle Society will be welcomed to a 5-day training programme with the Rose Castle Foundation in the USA in January 2022.

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