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Difficult Dialogues

Passing the Baton
Difficult Dialogues Assistant Directors

This summer marks a major transition for the Difficult Dialogues project as our DD Assistant Director Jane Androski '02 leaves for graduate school at RISD this fall. As everyone affiliated with the DD project well knows, Jane has been a powerful partner in the work of the project for the last three and a half years. Her intelligence and passion for this work (as well as her lovely and clarifying aesthetic) have been critical in shaping the project and will continue to resonate. In August, we welcome John Sarrouf as Assistant Director; John takes up many of Jane's responsibilities, as well as the co-facilitation of a dialogue seminar on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Professor Kristen Williams in the fall. Below, a word from each of them:

Jane Androski

J. AndroskiIt's no coincidence that the Difficult Dialogues program has as its core, serious engagement with design. For designers—as both Sarah Buie and myself are—dialogue is a language we live everyday. The two are uniquely intertwined: dialogue being in essence, a creative process; and design, at its best, a dialogic collaboration. Both are premised on a willingness to engage with the unknown, in order to create something
entirely new.

It has been my privilege, over the past three years as Assistant Director to the Difficult Dialogues program, to witness how this interplay, between dialogue and design, has allowed us to imagine new possibilities at Clark (and for a more dialogic culture overall). It has provided the groundwork for members of our community to engage with each other in new and unexpected ways—across disciplines and power structures and around difficult, and often silenced, issues. It has allowed us to take risks, to bring creative thinking into our classrooms, and to consider difficult issues from a fresh perspective through our public events. For many of us, including myself, dialogue has become a creative practice that has extended into many corners of our lives—allowing us to become more deeply engaged with our own learning.

These experiences have been a springboard for my graduate study, in which I plan to explore the role of the designer not simply as a visual communicator, but as a visionary—one who can work towards positive change through engagement with her community. In this, I've already received an excellent education from my colleagues at Clark. Thank you to everyone for creating a space in which new ideas can grow and for welcoming me as a part of it.

Jane Androski '02, Assistant Director to the Difficult Dialogues program, leaves Clark this Fall to pursue an MFA degree in Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. She has been with the program since its launch, in 2006.

John Sarrouf

J. SarroufI am thrilled to be joining the Clark community in working to keep dialogue a vital part of the intellectual and social life of the campus and the city. What Jane, Sarah, and all the many DD collaborators have created is impressive and inspiring, and it is an honor to be a part of it.

I come to the practice of dialogue from the field of conflict resolution and the non-profit arts world. I am currently finishing a Masters Degree at the University of Massachusetts in Dispute Resolution. My academic research is in post-civil war interpersonal reconciliation—specifically studying the resettlement process in the Shouf Mountains of Lebanon—and the role the arts can play in reconciling divided communities. I've trained and worked with the Public Conversations Project, in Watertown MA and have my own consulting firm, Oleson/Sarrouf, geared toward transforming conflict in small work groups, non-profits, and faith organizations.

I've also spent 15 years working as an actor, director, and writer for stage and film; as an artist/manager at Shakespeare & Company, in Lenox, and currently as a producer at The Gloucester Stage Company. I can honestly say that the theater has taught me the most about conflict—onstage and off. Like Jane, the dialogue of the creative and collaborative process and the conflicts inherent in it, is much of what drew me to this field.

John Sarrouf joins the Difficult Dialogues program this Fall as Assistant Director. He and his wife, Dawn Jenks Sarrouf, live in Gloucester, Massachusetts with
their two children.