Samuel Dunston II

There is a Chinese traditional theory that man is an important part of nature, and people can create something called "Eco-Civilization." From it, we observe that life experiences are important, and physical life on Earth is nature. It’s a bridge that connects each person with his or her emotions and intellect. Further, nature is a bridge that connects all people’s emotions and all people’s intellects.

Nature and themes in nature are bridges over conflicts. They connect us one-to-another and allow us to develop empathy and compassion, which tempers our intellects, passions, and reactions to unpleasant situations.

As people, we experience many unpleasant events. As a youth, growing up on 16th & D Streets, N.E. in Washington, DC was not ideal because during the last-three-decades of the 20th century, that area was riddled with violence from “Isherwood” and “Rosedale.” So, my immediate neighborhood was not ideal. We had two well-known local drug-dealing houses on our block; plus, my neighbors were the victims of murder-homicide.

As a youth in DC, I would have loved a program where I could go to learn how to communicate with people. During most of the late 20th century, gang violence and aggression pervaded the media to the extent that violence was cool. However, my father re-enforced ideals that kept me seeking light. So, in my neighborhood, I was an outsider. Moreover, many of the neighborhood kids were relatives, and because I was already an outsider, I was an easy target for bullying and several kids would occasionally attempt to “jump-me-into their gang.”

I was raised by my great-grandparents, and the large generation-gap didn’t model or facilitate good communication skills at-home. So while I earned straight-A’s, I didn’t know how to talk about the way I felt about violence in my neighborhood; make a real friendship; or have a real conversation. My life was based on transactions, so I could pass and move to the next-best place. That was great for school, was bad for my personal life, and, little-did-I-know, had stunted my ability to make personal and professional relationships as an adult.

Because I didn’t have dialogue skills, I developed the habit of feeling like an outsider. Instead of talking with people and building relationships, I use analysis as a way to identify and classify people. That way I can predict who they are. Dialogue skills would have helped me understand how to build relationships, cope, and become more flexible without as much difficulty as I’ve encountered so far.

As a youth in DC, I would have loved a program and place that allowed me to develop my own way to cope and communicate. I know that the situation in DC is improving; however, dialogue skills in DC will help other kids who-are-now like-I-was at their ages. They won’t have to wait 24 years and travel to a distant land, dialogue skills will bring light to their lives now!

After learning about Dialogue Skills, I immediately notice my own areas of improvement. I also realize that my feelings might not be accurate and affect my analysis. This allowed me to realize that Dialogue skills is dynamic, and if I do it the real and right way, Dialogue Skills always builds a bridge toward self-mastery and results in improvement of my community and the people in it.

Samuel Dunston II
ECCN Nature Education Travel Manager