The Greenfield experience

Greensboro College welcomed Dr. Derek Greenfield, a renowned visionary speaker, who was featured on numerous sites like Huffington Post and Sports Illustrated, to Pride campus on Feb. 22.

Greenfield’s event was titled “Building for Inclusiveness Excellence in the Greensboro College Community.” Three separate events were held on campus, one for faculty and colleagues, another for students and finally one for the president’s commission.

The word “experience” may best describe the Greenfield event. It was interactive and insightful; it caused many to become more aware of others in society. Awareness was spread about neurodivergent, non-binary and racial inequalities among peers. Greenfield could make all he
spoke to feel seen and heard.

A phrase he spoke highly of was “Sawubona,” which originates from Zulu, an ethnic group in Southern Africa. Sawubona means “I see you.”

Greenfield created an inclusive and safe environment for people to open up about personal experiences. In creating a supportive environment for all to speak freely without judgment, groups were asked to “make it rain.” At this request, many looked skywards to the sprinklers. That’s not where the answer was.

The answer lies within every individual. By snapping of fingers, patting of thighs, pointing upon tables, the overlapping of sounds created “rain.” Rooms were astonished by the simple solution to “make it rain.” It allowed many to be present at the moment with the activeness of the event, which had everyone on their toes in excitement.

Analogies were made to garner introspection. One analogy in particular aimed to represent the difference in male versus female perspective. Greenfield presented this situation: Would a student make the hike if asked to show up for a study session at night that was held only a 10-minute walk from campus? Female counterparts said that they wouldn’t make that travel to the study session, while their male counterparts had no qualms about the travel. The reasoning for women is the timing and setting of the study session. This difference caused many to think about a person’s circumstances before judging so freely. In a society, so many false biases are held against others, which in turn can ruin a community.

Greenfield acknowledged the impact that people can have on each other. This was especially true in the story he told about Scott Franz who Greenfield personally met during an offseason team building exercise.

Franz, an offensive tackle for Kansas State, opened up to his teammate that he was gay and was at the lowest point in his life, so low, in fact, that suicide as an option. However, Franz was met with unyielding support from his teammates, who rallied with him in support. “I’ve never felt so loved,” was a statement that the athlete made commending his team and coaches for their support. Greenfield highlighted the importance of never knowing the immense impact that you can have on another’s life. In the case of Franz, the support he received from his teammates made all the difference.

There were many takeaways from the experience that could cultivate societal leaders. An example of one of these takeaways is the notion of hunger for knowledge. Whether that be empathetic knowledge, understanding of others’ situations and circumstances or having a growth mindset, this hunger means the ability to keep learning and expanding to better oneself and the community.

Greenfield impacted the Greensboro College community with his powerful experience.


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