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Alumni Profile: Mark Dawson, Spring 2007

October 23, 2019

What semester/theme did you participate in?
Spring 2007: Going For Gold: Leveraging the Impacts of Olympic Fever

What was one highlight from the semester?
Our end of semester public dialogue, A 2010-Piece Puzzle, was probably the grand finale and high point. What amazes me to this day is how our cohort came together to make it happen; it was a complete team effort. I'm sure it wasn't without some bumps, but I've long since forgotten them. At the beginning of the day, each one of us said a line in the welcome, which perfectly summed up how we worked together. Before that, we had so many great dialogues, group projects, and field trips that threw us into new and challenging situations.

How do you use what you learned in the Semester in Dialogue in your career?
I'm STILL learning from those class discussions, our guests, and our amazing instructors Janet, Peter, and Jen. Different lessons pop up at different times, but I cling to a couple practical 'tips' to this day: try and build on previous comments in a discussion, rather than forcing my own two cents regardless. And, wait a second before replying; silence can be a good thing. These are difficult to practice, but to this day I keep trying. In my current professional role, I have to continue to look outside my own views, practice empathy, and try and understand - maybe even accept! - challenges to my own thinking. I know I have a long way to go and it's always a work in progress, but without Semester in Dialogue, I may well have closed myself off to so much.

What are you doing now/planning to do that you want to tell the world about?
Hmmmm. Well, I have a wonderful day job working in higher ed where I get to work with a fun and collaborative team, kind of like SID. Again, I try and employ some of those dialogue strategies on a daily basis. But when I'm not working, I'm booking races around the world that expose me to new countries, cultures, and dialogue!

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Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure