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Praise for Diasporas in Dialogue: Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation in Worldwide Refugee Communities

Feeling overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of global problems, such as war, genocide, and the growing tide of refugees? Do not give up hope. Here is a simple and accessible account of how, step by step, the process of healing communities and rebuilding a better world can begin. When refugees reach a new home it is not the end of their journey. They bring with them not only gratitude for refuge, but also the wounds of war and old enmities. This book shows how diaspora communities can be engaged in dialogue that heals, reconciles, and builds peace. – Di Bretherton, Adjunct Professor, The University of Queensland

The multiple authors of this book modestly call it a “manual.” It is indeed a manual – guiding readers in a series of detailed, well‐organized, and accessible chapters through the logic and methodology of intercommunal dialogue. But it is much more than this. It tells the story of the Diaspora Dialogue Project between 2007 and 2012, based in Portland, a remarkable collaboration between university researchers and students and African community activists committed to helping recently arrived refugees, mainly from the Great Lakes region of Africa, in their resettlement. These are refugees fleeing mass violence and genocide, and not surprisingly they bring with them the identity‐based, national and tribal, enmities that were the cause of their plight. Victims and perpetrators, sometime both at once, they now find themselves in a strange land as refugees sharing the same space and most of the same challenges of their new lives. The Dialogue aimed to bring these individuals, bearing their scars and wounds and traumas, together to build trust despite the violence of their shared history. Readers will learn about dialogue structure and process but, more than any manual, also about the theories – of culture, identity, transitions, and power – that underlie any dialogue of this sort that hopes to succeed. – Kevin Avruch, Dean, Henry Hart Rice Professor of Conflict Resolution, Professor of Anthropology, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

As a former refugee from the traumatized war‐torn country of Somalia, I can deeply identify myself with the three stages (ending, transition, and beginning) which new arrivals undergo during their settlement in their new countries. This book offers very creative and insightful models of dialogue, reconciliation, and social healing for African Diaspora from conflict zones and it can also be applied to other migrants with a similar experience. – Dr. Yusuf Sheikh Omar, Global Advisor for Global Reconciliation, Australia

Dr. Tint and the entire DDP team deliver an indispensable guide for those seeking to lead or participate effectively in dialogue processes, especially in ethnically diverse communities. This text comes at a critical time, as deeper and persistent dialogue efforts are required to manage the challenges posed by mass displacement, refugee movements, and immigration. – Dr. Susan S. Raines, Editor, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Professor of Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University

Diasporas in Dialogue is a comprehensive guide for helping new arrivals, and those who receive them, find ways to build resilience and thriving relations. It offers helpful frameworks and practical tools that will be useful in many newcomer‐receiving contexts. I recommend it with enthusiasm. – Michelle LeBaron B.A. J.D. M.A., Professor and dispute resolution scholar, Allard School of Law, The University of British Columbia

I congratulate and applaud the work of Dr. Tint and the DDP team. For close to 40 years, I have had the good fortune of working closely with refugee newcomers in their struggles to rebuild their lives here in America. The book offers many valuable tools for dialogue, insights, and perspectives for newcomers in their journeys of peace and reconciliation. I recommend this book highly to anyone involved with refugee resettlement processes. – Salah Ansary, Regional Director, Refugee Resettlement Services, Lutheran Community Services Northwest

This useful combination of theory and practice offers a valuable resource at a time when the movement of people is at a peak across the globe, and people are facing increasing divides in their own and others’ societies. The authors’ willingness to share their insight and experience gives us the opportunity to learn more and to apply their very practical wisdom in our own contexts as we work to build peace amongst individuals, families, communities, and societies. – Jonathan Dudding, Institute of Cultural Affairs, UK

Life is a challenge as well as a lesson always, but it is beautiful to see the bonding of different cultures, values, and norms for a peaceful cohabitation. The work in this book is a great contribution to building a peaceful global village. – Higiro Issa, President, Rwanda Centre for Council, Kigali, Rwanda


Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation in Worldwide Refugee Communities


Edited by Barbara Tint















If people come together, they can even mend a crack in the sky.


Marie Abijuru is a U.S. citizen from Rwanda. She is currently working at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), and she volunteers with Resolutions Northwest, a unique organization providing a wide range of mediation and facilitation services to help Portland area community members find solutions to conflict. She was one of the first participants when the African Diaspora Dialogue Project was launched, and served as a facilitator for the second group from the Great Lakes. Marie’s dream is to speak out for peace and justice, and to help refugees and immigrants to feel at home and work together for their success. Marie was named Person of the Year in 2009 by the Rwandan community.

Daniel Amine is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He did both undergraduate and graduate studies, in business administration and conflict resolution respectively, at Portland State University. He dedicates his time and energy to bridging gaps between cultures and building relationships among different immigrant groups struggling for justice and equality. He formerly worked at IRCO/Africa House and was a member of the State of Oregon refugee advisory council.

Diana Bianco has almost 20 years of experience in policy development, management, advocacy, community relations, and communications. She has practiced law, directed issue campaigns, and provided guidance and strategic direction to nonprofits and government agencies. Through Artemis Consulting, Diana helps clients analyze and manage policy and program direction, improve communication and collaboration through conflict resolution and facilitation of meetings, and devise advocacy strategies. Diana is a certified Transitions Coach and, working with the Andrus Family Fund, helps organizations apply the William Bridges’ Transition Framework to community reconciliation efforts and foster care programs.

Vincent Chirimwami is a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He arrived in the United States in 2004 and lives in Beaverton, Oregon. Vincent is a licensed special education teacher and community dialogue facilitator. He holds two master’s degrees in education and conflict resolution from Portland State University. His education hasn’t stopped there, as he continues to work on his doctorate (PhD) degree in public policy and administration with a focus on public management and leadership at Walden University, Minneapolis. Vincent was a participant in the first round of ADDP dialogues, and went on to become a facilitator in the second round.

Roland Clarke is a native of Liberia, West Africa. He is currently conducting his PhD dissertation study on citizen participation and decentralization policy of Liberia and expects to graduate in 2017 from Walden University, Minneapolis, majoring in public policy and administration. In 2010, Roland earned an MA in conflict resolution from Portland State University, and in 1998, an MS degree in counseling and clinical education from Christian Theological Seminary, Indiana. Furthermore, in 1994, he earned a BSc in counseling from the United Methodist University in Liberia. Professionally, he is working and has worked as a consultant for many organizations as follows: Associates for Peace and Development, African Diaspora Dialogue Project, USA, Program Learning Group/ChildFund, Liberia, Plan International, Liberia, Peacebuilding Office/UNDP, and Ministry of Health, Liberia. He also served as Dean of Student Affairs at the United Methodist University in Liberia for three years. His expertise and skills include dialogue, community reconciliation and transitions facilitation, program management, advocacy, policy formulation, and academic research. His passion is in research and building capacity.

Djimet Dogo is currently the Manager of IRCO/Africa House, a one‐stop service center that provides an array of services for African immigrants and refugees in Portland, Oregon. Prior to coming to the United States, Djimet ran Chad‐Nonviolence, a human rights organization in Chad focused on bringing warring groups together. In Portland, Djimet draws upon his experience as a human rights activist in Africa to seek assistance for Portland’s growing African refugee population. Djimet holds a master’s degree in public administration, a BA in communication, and a BA in liberal arts from Portland State University; a BA in English from the University of Chad; and degrees in peace, human rights, and conflict resolution from Austria and France.

Mindy Johnston has an MS in conflict resolution from Portland State University where she became very involved in restorative justice work with incarcerated men. Mindy currently supervises the Crime Victim Advocacy Program at Lutheran Community Services Northwest, a program she developed in both Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon. She also manages the Reception and Placement Program, which resettles refugees in Clark County, Washington. Mindy lived in Java, Indonesia for four years, studying traditional music and language, followed by further language study at the University of Wisconsin’s Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute. Mindy directs Portland’s only Javanese gamelan ensemble and has started a nonprofit organization called Gamelan Rakyat (meaning Gamelan for the People), with the hopes of taking gamelan into prisons and other disadvantaged communities.

Julie Koehler works at Mercy Corps on curriculum development, training, facilitation, and youth development. She has been a member of the Mercy Corps Gender Working Group for over three years. While at Mercy Corps she has delivered workshops on humanitarian negotiation in Afghanistan and Guatemala, advocacy and good governance in Mongolia, and do no harm. She has also participated in evaluations of programming in China, proposal review across Mercy Corps countries, and internal gender resource development. Julie teaches a course on gender and international development through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Portland State University. She also serves as league mediator for the local women’s roller derby league, the Rose City Rollers. She is completing her master’s degree in conflict resolution at Portland State University with a focus on gender, cross‐cultural communication, and peace education.

Mary Lind currently serves Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) employees as Conflict Management Specialist/Senior Trainer. She offers classes, coaching, and custom interventions for groups, teams, and individuals focused on effective approaches to workplace conflict. Since 2002, Mary has served as mediator, facilitator, instructor, and coach in a variety of community, workplace, and international settings. Mary earned an MA in peace education from UPEACE and an MS in adult education/conflict resolution from Portland State University (PSU). She taught graduate and undergraduate students at PSU for eight years, and taught faculty and students at PSU, UPEACE, and the Indianapolis Peace Institute. Her background in international education and interethnic dialogue facilitation shaped her conflict resolution practice and teaching, believing every conflict is an intercultural conflict, and every person is best qualified to address their conflict with others.

Sa’eed Mohamed Haji is a native of Somalia. He lived in Kenya from 1996–1998 as a refugee immigrant. He came to the United States in February 1998, with no knowledge of English, and Portland Community College in Oregon was the first formal school he had ever enrolled in. In 2004, six years after his arrival in the United States, Sa’eed earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University (PSU). In June 2010 he completed a graduate degree in conflict resolution at PSU.

Rukia Mohammed was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya. She is an active member of the Somali Bantu community and served as a secretary of the Portland Somali Bantu community organization. She was a participant in the first ADDP dialogue process in the Somali group, and served as a facilitator in the second dialogue process. She earned an associate’s degree in social science from Portland Community College, and she is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Portland State University.

Gloria Ngezaho, husband, father, published author, community organizer, and Oregon congressional candidate, is originally from Burundi, central Africa. He holds a certificate in interfaith conflict resolution from the United States Institute of Peace, and earned both a BA in international studies and an MA in conflict resolution from Portland State University. He is expected to complete his doctoral studies at Concordia University‐Portland by the end of 2016.

Carmina Rinker Lass holds an MA in conflict resolution from Portland State University. During her graduate studies, she worked with ADDP as a needs assessment coordinator. Prior to and following her graduate work, Carmina studied intercultural conflict resolution, dialogue and reconciliation among divided communities, French, and microfinance strategies for poverty alleviation. Her studies took her across Europe and to India. Most recently, Carmina’s work has focused on economic empowerment, financial capability, and lending among low‐income and underserved communities in the United States. Currently, Carmina is the Director of Training and Consulting for Credit Builders Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works at the national level to help move people from poverty to prosperity through credit building.

Caroline Sarkis is a PhD candidate at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She has published on international legal responses to sexual and gender‐based violence as crimes against humanity, and dialogue processes in diaspora communities. Caroline’s dissertation research focuses on the engagement of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She holds an MA in conflict resolution from Portland State University where she won the 2007 Distinguished Master’s Thesis award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association.

Barbara Tint is a Professor of Conflict Resolution at Portland State University. Her work in peace and conflict resolution stems from her background in political psychology, where she has focused largely on the psychological dynamics involved in the causes of, intervention in, and prevention of international conflict. Her primary focus is on post‐conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation processes. In addition to teaching, she works domestically and internationally in areas including dialogue, intercultural relations, power and status, resilience, and gender relations. She served as Director of the Diaspora Dialogue Project from its inception in 2007. She travels the world providing training, consultation, and facilitation in a wide range of community, governmental, nongovernmental, and educational contexts.


One tree cannot make a forest.


This project was a true partnership. None of us could have accomplished this work without the other. We all learned so much along the way and have been inspired by what true collaboration can do.

Andrus Family Fund (AFF)

The Andrus Family Fund, a sub‐fund of the Surdna Foundation, was established in 2000 to give fifth‐generation foundation family members between the ages of 25 and 45 an opportunity to learn about and participate in organized philanthropy. In its first year of operation, the AFF Board selected two program areas in which to focus its energies: community reconciliation and the passage of youth out of foster care toward independent living. At that time, the board also adopted William Bridges’ Transition Framework with the firm conviction that intentionally and consistently paying attention to the internal transitions people go through, as they confront external change in their lives, is the only way to make social change sustainable. The mission and focus of AFF have changed since the completion of this project. To read more about the Andrus Family Fund, please visit

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)

Started in 1975, IRCO is a community‐based, nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization assisting refugees and immigrants through the various stages of integration into U.S. society. The mission of IRCO is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants, and the community at large into a self‐sufficient, healthy, and inclusive multiethnic society. Reflecting great diversity, IRCO’s clients represent many countries and regions throughout the world. IRCO is the leading refugee organization in Oregon and Southwest Washington, investing in refugees and immigrants enabling them to become self‐sufficient, long‐term contributors to the community. To read more about IRCO, please visit

Africa House

IRCO’s Africa House is a focal point for the local African community and a “one‐stop” service center providing an array of community‐building, cultural adjustment, and culturally specific services tailored to the African immigrant and refugee community resettling in Portland, Oregon. Africa House is guided by an Advisory Board of representatives of Portland’s 30 African ethnic groups, the first such coalition of African ethnic communities in the United States. Since its start‐up in 2006, Africa House has served over 1,500 individuals with direct linkage, referral, and community education services and increased the visibility of Africans in Portland through leadership development and community engagement.

Portland State University Conflict Resolution Program (PSU CR)

Portland State University (PSU) is Oregon’s largest university and an internationally recognized leader in civic engagement and community‐based learning. PSU’s Conflict Resolution Program was founded in 1993 and offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in conflict resolution. Both degrees draw from, and contribute to, theories and practice in the field. Graduate study blends research and internship experiences to prepare students for professional work. The program blends education and training in theory, research, and practice to create an optimal experience for future practitioners in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. For further information, please visit‐resolution/.



Barbara Tint, Djimet Dogo and their team in Portland, Oregon offer us an exciting new avenue for advancing refugee resettlement. They have successfully engaged with community leaders from the African diasporas who now live in Portland to build trust and mutual understanding among newer refugees who were enemies on a distant shore. Rather than carry their enmity and fear of each other into their new lives, the Diaspora Dialogue Project (DDP) assists recently arrived refugees in building positive relationships that support their acculturation and integration into a new homeland. This is compassionate civic engagement at its best.

DDP is also dialogue at its best. Dialogue, this book tells us, is a process of structured conversations and activities that allow participants to discover the common ground that binds them as members of the human community. Recognizing core human needs for safety, security, respect, and well‐being, dialogue members gradually shed stereotypes and misperceptions of each other, slowly replacing these negative images with positive thoughts and caring connections. As refugees struggling to acclimate to a radically new and often confounding environment, these participants have so much more in common than that which separated them, and through DDP, they are able to truly benefit by recognizing and acting on this mutuality.

What DDP has accomplished requires a great deal of skill. Results such as former enemies forging common bonds and recognizing each other’s humanity cannot be taken for granted. This is conscious, demanding, deliberate, dialogue work, every activity planned, scrutinized, and amended. That all this was done so well with mixed facilitation teams of Africans and westerners, academics and community leaders, is very much to their credit and certainly part of their acceptance by the community.

This volume, presented in attractive and well‐organized form for easy access, documents the five‐year process of DDP from first vision to final evaluation. Supported by a generous grant from the Andrus Family Fund and in collaboration with Portland State University, the Immigration and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and its Africa House, DDP pioneers a unique direction for dialogue among a diaspora population as a model. The manual invites readers to imagine how this process might be adapted for their own context of refugees or long‐term resident populations who could benefit from sensitizing themselves to whomever they identify as “other.” I can immediately imagine wide use of this format within the fractured commons of the United States and other countries currently facing enormous challenges of refugee integration, whether or not these refugee populations also arrive with fearful or antagonistic histories toward each other.

As a dialogue facilitator at home and abroad, I plan to share this manual with professional colleagues so that we might undertake our own refugee dialogue project, perhaps with a different mix than the one identified by DDP. The background of the project, the models and frameworks, the plans, timelines, caveats, and obstacles, as well as the excellent dialogue session handouts and templates for facilitation are ready for adaptation and use by seasoned facilitators. I especially appreciate the research issues presented in the volume, including documentation on the challenges of refugees, reflections on dialogue and its efficacy, resources for further study, implications for refugee policy, and a thorough evaluation structure with essential assessment tools. Five years is a long project and this span has allowed for serious observation, adjustments, tracking, reflecting, and evaluating. Many details are presented here and the persistence, continuity, and capacity for improvement as they went along have strengthened the program.

The touching use of quotes from African cultures, the voices of refugee participants before and after their dialogue experience, and the chapters on recruitment strategies and cultural awareness bespeak genuine respect for the participants in the program and the Portland community. Early in its formation, DDP engaged community leaders and especially consulted elders, women, and youth, creating a sense of wide ownership and encouraging each group to offer its unique perspective and guidance. The team consistently attended to cultural values of dignity, ritual, sharing of food, prayer, and collective orientation. The facilitation, research, and writing teams include Africans from the diaspora, some of them students or community workers and several graduates of this dialogue program. The strategy of DDP appears to be one of full inclusion and affirmation, itself a part of the healing of refugees. DDP has “walked its talk” and its process of collaboration is reflected in its outcomes.

DDP has adapted the Transition Framework to their diaspora context that provides a guide to understanding and appraising the process of change thrust upon newly arrived refugees. I found this tool especially indicative of the project’s sensitivities to refugee adjustment and success. The Framework allows each individual to track his/her progress through endings, a neutral zone, and new beginnings from a psychological and social point of view. Behavior and its causes, as well as strategies and interventions, accompany each step in the transition process, markers on the path toward adjustment and integration into their new world. This framework seems like a genuine gift for participants and their kin, allowing everyone to remember that there is a process of adaptation and that a healthy transition is within their grasp.

The Syrian exodus in the face of the violent disintegration of their country has thrust migration and refugee issues onto the world stage with heartbreaking alacrity. Middle Eastern and European countries, especially, are bearing this burden along with the Syrians. But more refugees will come, to North American shores, to Europe, and beyond, as climate change wreaks havoc on low‐lying lands and on global food and water supplies. All of us will be touched, and should be concerned, by the needs for migration and refugee services and by the plight of people unwillingly uprooted from their homes and families. Models like DDP offer a wealth of inspiration, information, tools, and resources that can be adapted for use and included as an added refugee service that addresses the emotional and social needs of the newly arrived. Many of us who are privileged to remain in our homelands can engage in such programs, benefiting ourselves as well as the refugees in our midst, building durable communities where all are valued, respected, and included.

Read this book, use its models, and allow your imagination to create new uses for community dialogue wherever there is a sense of “other,” whether that “other” is newly arrived or a longtime resident population. In the coming decades, we will need the wisdom and participation of all members of our community to face yet unknown transitions. This DDP manual allows us to be part of the solution. Mother Teresa remarked that the “problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” Diasporas in Dialogue challenges all of us to enlarge our circles so that no one is left out and all our community members know that they are a welcomed and cherished part of the whole.

Dr. Paula Green is Professor Emerita at the School for International Training Graduate Institute and the Founder of Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. An international leader in dialogue and conflict transformation, she was given an award by the Dalai Lama as an Unsung Hero of Compassion.



The terrible events experienced by refugees who have fled from their homelands create profound mistrust of their enemies and more generally of the basic foundations of social life. One of the hallmarks of violence and persecution that is particularly devastating for human beings is to be reduced from a person with a life history, specific talents and interests, propensities, and individual values expressed in daily life, to a simple instantiation of an identity category arbitrarily subject to degrading treatment or annihilation. Nothing about who one is, or what one has done in life, matters. Refugees speak of this experience as absolutely existentially devastating.

Refugees resettle in foreign countries alongside former enemies, who also are fleeing. Extreme episodes of violence impact all sides, horribly. In the country of resettlement, in a context of deeply felt distrust and anger, diaspora peoples must learn how to become neighbors and human beings with each other again. They must do so with existing and with incoming community members.

It is actually astounding to me that this is the first book I have seen which addresses this severely distressing circumstance of refugees having to coexist with perceived enemies. This book provides a deeply moving account of the process of rehumanizing others. Barbara Tint, Djimet Dogo and their partners and colleagues who worked to develop and test the methods described in this book are to be congratulated for this timely effort. Now, more than ever, we need this work to help the millions of refugees fleeing conflict and resettling around the world.

I first became aware of this project at a national consultation sponsored by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement when I attended Djimet Dogo’s presentation about his work with the Diaspora Dialogue Project on conflict resolution among refugee communities. I immediately knew I wanted him to come to Milwaukee and train us. He graciously consented, and what followed were two days of refugee and former refugee leaders sitting spellbound, working with the ideas he presented from this important project. The concepts about how change happens in stages and what can be done to help those going through those stages – which are spelled out in this terrific book – help people to diagnose and make sense of their experiences. These concepts help to order the chaos of aftermath, and they bring the recognition that one can reclaim making choices and express the profound sadness and losses of the experiences of war and extreme tearing of the social fabric.

We are social beings. We are meaning makers. Dialogue facilitated by sensitive human beings aimed at helping people to express their pain and wisdom as well as hear the experiences of those identified with former enemies who hurt them, provides opportunity for healing. And if we need nothing else, we do need social healing in our era of mass refugee flows and terror events.

This book gives very specific approaches about how to conduct dialogue, and shares poignant stories of pain and recovery with others. This engenders hope that there is a way forward with other people out of a history of violence and conflict. We can reclaim our humanity and our values and our lives when we learn how to talk with each other again through the foundational ideas about dialogue.

This book will give you hope; the people who worked in the project out of which this wonderful manual was born really have the most intriguing and lovely stories to teach us about how to recover from terrible events. May they all walk in beauty; may all of us learn from their journeys.

Mette Brogden, PhD, is a medical/cultural anthropologist and Wisconsin State Refugee Coordinator.


A tree is known by its fruit.


The year is 2016. As of this writing, over 4,000 people have died trying to flee the violent conflicts in Syria and Iraq. People have crossed many miles over land and sea, at great risk, to find a safe haven in the midst of communal wars and violence. The influx of refugees into Europe has reached unprecedented levels; over 1.2 million individuals are expected to submit applications for asylum this year, with 800,000 of those expected in Germany alone. While immediate needs, including those of survival, finding a home, and locating family members, will take precedence, when the dust – and lives – have settled, refugee communities will face the daunting task of living amongst many community members who represent the very groups they were fleeing. They will not be the first – or likely the last – group of refugees dealing with this reality: living side by side with former or current enemies in the diaspora. Surprisingly, little has ever been done to address this significant barrier to community healing and resettlement.

Well, we did. This book describes a project that took place during a five‐year period of time working with fractured diaspora communities from Africa in Portland, Oregon, USA. The Diaspora Dialogue Project (DDP), generously supported by the Andrus Family Fund (AFF), was a collaboration between the Conflict Resolution Graduate Program at Portland State University (PSU) and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). The project started, as many things do, with a chance encounter. One day in the spring of 2007, in the halls of my university, I ran into John, a Nigerian student in our program, who was doing his internship at IRCO. He mentioned that there were large numbers of refugees arriving from the Great Lakes region of Africa and there were concerns about potential issues related to their history. As Hutu and Tutsi refugees from the genocide in Rwanda and the ongoing conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and other parts of the region, these community members were arriving with great trauma behind them and great challenges up ahead.

As it happened, at that time I was also having conversations with AFF about the possibility of starting a community reconciliation project. As John shared his news, a bell went off, and I wondered about the possibility of attempting community reconciliation efforts with post‐conflict refugee communities coming from that region. I soon learned about IRCO’s Africa House, a newly established service center for African refugees and immigrants in Portland. With no prior connection or introduction, I called Djimet Dogo, the Director of Africa House, and presented the idea of developing dialogue processes with historically conflicted community groups. I fully expected him to be appropriately wary of this strange lady calling from the university. I was prepared to be told to submit a proposal, get in line, or, in the words of the Great Wizard of Oz, “Go away and come back tomorrow.” To my surprise, without a moment’s hesitation, Djimet said, “Yes. Please. But can we do it with all the communities?” Not only had I discovered a generous and receptive heart, I had also unwittingly stumbled upon a vast untapped need that would become the focal point of our shared work for the next five years.

So began the Diaspora Dialogue Project (DDP) and the collaboration between PSU, IRCO, and AFF. In investigating previous efforts around these issues, we were collectively stunned to learn that there had been very few efforts of this nature anywhere else, further affirming our desire to pursue this project.

Our efforts were predicated on the knowledge that historical conflicts from home regions were traveling with migrant populations and being left unattended in the diaspora. We saw the need and the opportunity to provide a safe forum for community members to come together to address their fractured past, their difficult present, and their uncertain future. While our efforts focused specifically on diaspora communities from Africa, it became clear that these processes were needed and wanted in communities from many other regions. Soon we were getting requests to create similar initiatives with communities from Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

Beginning in 2007 and ending in 2012, our project consisted of multiple phases. Our goals were to assess community needs, conduct a series of dialogue groups with recruited and selected participants, train participants to become dialogue facilitators, and then run more groups with community members as group facilitators. Capacity building was a critical aspect of our efforts, as we wanted to support group members in carrying this work deeper into their own communities; a primary goal was to have the project impact endure and sustain beyond our involvement. We knew that the more that in‐group community members were involved in the planning and implementation of these processes, the more successful and sustaining they would be. Toward that end, participants’ voices informed the process and are represented as much as possible in these pages. Our dialogue model was developed as an integration between knowledge and experience about dialogue processes around the world and culturally congruent influences from the local contexts of the particular communities we were serving. In collaboration with AFF, we adopted the Transition Framework, their model for social change, that was incorporated into our planning and dialogue processes.

At all times, our decisions were driven by Africa House team members, whose understanding of the needs and inclinations of the community members was critical in our planning. While our hope was to serve as many communities as possible, our capacity dictated our direction. After much team consultation and assessment of community needs, it was decided that we would focus on two parallel groups for dialogue: the Somali community and the Great Lakes community, which included participants from Burundi, the DRC, and Rwanda. We also conducted deep assessment and stakeholders’ conversations with the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Liberian communities who chose to implement different processes of their own with the input we had provided.

DDP was a labor of love for those involved, and a testament to the Portland African diaspora community’s drive to heal and to move past historical conflict to come together in new ways. Dialogue participants imagined that the ripple effect of these efforts would spread far and wide – even all the way back home and with other diaspora populations. We hope you can help take it there.