Noticing a need in the Mankato, Minnesota area to link new immigrants and refugees with the greater Mankato community, the YWCA Mankato started the Walking in Two Worlds program. The Colorful Dialogue, a part of the Walking in Two Worlds program, is a monthly community forum where long-time residents and newcomers, including immigrants and refugees, meet to discuss topics important for community building. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the program as a form of civic engagement. Two main questions shape the research: (1) Is the YWCA program, Colorful Dialogue an effective method of civic engagement? (2) Is cross-cultural dialogue important and/or necessary in a demographically changing community? To answer these questions, qualitative research methods are used, including interviews and participant observation. Results show that interviewees find cross-cultural dialogue important, judging the effectiveness of the Colorful Dialogue as a form of civic engagement, however, was more difficult. Participation in the event could be considered civic engagement, but it did not appear that the Colorful Dialogue is used as a stepping stone for increased civic engagement. Respondents think the Colorful Dialogue is important for English language learners to practice their language in a practical setting; for immigrants and refugees to be able to connect with people in the community and learn the norms of living here, but also for those in the community to connect with all people living in Mankato, Minnesota.
Date of Degree
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Olson, K. (2011). Colorful Dialogue: Talking Towards Civic Engagement [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/224/
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