SPHS students invited to participate in workshop combating political polarization

Story by Lilian Zhu
Staff Writer

Graphic courtesy of Jonathan Eisenberg

South Pasadena Hometown Exchange (SPHE) is hosting “Skills for Bridging the Divide,” a student workshop focused on helping youth respect different political viewpoints on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The event is open to all SPHS students.

Participants of the two and a half hour long Zoom session will learn conversational skills and techniques on how to reach a common ground with those who have opposing political views. Students will be able to learn and practice tone setting, listening, and speaking skills through different activities.

The workshop is hosted by Braver Angels, an organization that has hosted debates, alliances, and trainings to combat political polarization in the United States since the 2016 election.

SPHE had previously organized a hometown exchange program for June 2020 with Windsor High School in Colorado — a majority conservative area that contrasts with the largely liberal lean of South Pasadena — but the coronavirus forced a transition to this online format with similar goals of bridging political divides.

“The Braver Angels workshop is important because it helps people improve their interpersonal communication skills so that people who may have very different views, beliefs, and backgrounds can converse with one another about serious and possibly controversial topics with more empathy and less acrimony,” SPHE founder Jonathan Eisenberg said. “As I see things, the main goal is to strengthen democracy, which requires informed participants who can work effectively with other folks across cultural, ethnic, geographic, and political divides.”

Students interested in the workshop can register using this Eventbrite link and will need to take a 40-minute online to prepare beforehand.

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