The real-life superheroes helping Syrian refugees

Feras Fayyad·TED Fellows: Shape Your Future

“Society has a set of stories it tells itself about who refugees are and what they look like, says documentarian and TED Fellow Feras Fayyad. With his films, he’s on a mission to separate the facts about refugees from fiction, as a form of resistance — for himself, his daughter and the millions of other Syrian refugees across the world. A harrowing account, a quest to end injustice and a testament to the power of storytelling.”

Walk with Little Amal, a theatrical journey celebrating the refugee experience

Amir Nizar Zuabi·TEDMonterey

“In a staggering display of creativity and community, theater director Amir Nizar Zuabi introduces “The Walk”: a theatrical journey following a nine-year-old refugee girl named Amal (represented by a giant, lifelike puppet) as she makes her way from Turkey to England. Zuabi shares the bold vision behind this cultural odyssey aimed at spreading hope and celebrating the refugee experience — and joins us live from Turkey as Amal passes through a village.”

SUMMER, 2021 ADVENTURE EN ROUTE: International Conversation Exchange

Teen-to-Teen Connection Sponsored by WCUMC Refugee Initiative
Summer, 2021


How would you like to talk with an international high schooler who’s come to America and has questions only another teen can answer?

How would you like to share your insights on American culture – and hear theirs about their home country AND OURS?!!



Are you an international high schooler with questions you’d like to ask a U.S. teen?

What if you could share your own story – and your thoughts on life in the U.S.?!

What if American teens want to learn as much from you as you do from them?


Join the global story.
Hear chapters you didn’t know existed.
Be a leader who can both learn and share knowledge.
See for yourself how conversation can connect across all divides.
Become the kind of person universities, businesses, and nations rely on.


  • All students MUST complete and submit a brief application. See form on QR code.
  • Selected students will Zoom into a pre-exchange training session with experts in the language that connects across backgrounds and perspectives.
  • American high school students will be paired with a local refugee or other internationateen for a weekly one-on-one phone conversation.
  • Periodic zoom meetings will allow students to discuss insights stemming from their exchanges – and to explore further ways to create conversations that connect.
  • Program director will maintain contact with students but will not participate in students’ one-on-one conversations.
  • Students will have uninterrupted access to directors and counselors for any requests, questions, or suggestions they may wish to share.


  • Get to know other cultures’ traditions, philosophies, and hopes for the future.
  • Re-discover your own perspectives by describing them to others.
  • Universities are searching for students who have invested themselves in global experience and service. Develop the life skills you need and they’ll recognize.
  • Hours in training and conversation earn Community Service Hours.



Sarah Abramovitz, Student Liaison

Ann Davis, Program Director

Interview with Beth Chernik

Our White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative has launched a number of  innovative outreaches in 2020 – ranging from a high school seminar on constructive conversations [“Conversations that Connect”] to five levels of English Learning classes online and collecting masks for refugees working in meat packing plants and prison cafeterias.  Our welcome team’s apartment preparations have comforted  emergency arrivals out of Myanmar and other extraordinary international sites.  Hear and see some of our volunteers’ adventures below.

Mom and Daughter arrived!

Congratulations, Team! Thanks to your generous contributions and furnishings we were able to fully furnish their apartment, including gift cards! Thank you for shopping and dropping off your donations so quickly to help make this emergency set-up go smoothly. Because of Covid concerns, we were not comfortable having Ali and Jafar help set up this time. Big thanks to our hard working movers and shakers, and masters of assembly and curtain hanging, Bob Bonisolli and Greg Walsh. Great job, gentlemen! We ended up with a surprise helper. The Dad joined us to help unload furniture before he had to rush off to work! He was so nice and overwhelmed with gratitude. We still don’t know much information about their circumstances other than the Dad has been here for awhile living with a friend and the Mom and daughter were living in a refugee camp near Myanmar. We are grateful they are finally all together and can settle in their new beautiful home. 

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White’s Chapel UMC To Host Conversations That Connect

The event will feature three nationally recognized speakers that break down communication barriers.

David Dunn January 24, 2020 in Southlake Style Online

When it comes to expressing your views, it’s not about what you believe, but how to express it. White’s Chapel UMC is aiming to teach youth how to do that in a way that builds trust, empathy and relationships through a new free event called Conversations That Connect.

Conversations That Connect aims to educate high school juniors and seniors on how to develop effective communication by recognizing and transforming bias. Event director Ann Davis says the idea for the event was birthed from a 2017 event called “Art as Conversation,” which broke down similar communication barriers through art and self-portraits. 

“Authentic conversation can connect us across even the widest variations in origin and experience,” Ann says. “Our participants were so excited about what they learned about themselves and each other that they asked for a sequel revolving around global issues. The result is Conversations That Connect, a national model for how to not only get the conversation going but to keep it going in the most productive ways for the most effective outcomes.” 

The event is broken up into three modules: listening to see, detecting and transforming bias and constructing conversations. According to a media release, public speakers include Center for Creative Leadership senior faculty member Jessica Davidson, Kairos Collaborative founder Todd Porter and unconscious bias expert Dr. David Campt, who has advised members from both the White House and the U.S. Military and was even featured on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” in 2018. 

In an age where dialogue has become more polarized than ever, Ann says it’s important to identify those cultural barriers so that we can learn to break through them. She hopes that Conversations That Connect will help address the individuals’ similarities and differences in a healthy way. 

“Communication that divides limits our creativity and hampers our resilience,” Ann expresses. “Our goal is to nourish the cultural conversation that combines empathy, innovation and influence so that individually, we can flourish, and together, we can resolve the world’s challenges rather than add to them.” 

Conversations That Connect is going on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at The Bridge in White’s Chapel UMC, located at 185 S. White Chapel Blvd. Registration is required, so be sure to do so online at

Conversations that Connect — 2/1/2020

Conversations That Connect

Saturday, February 1, 2020

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in “The Bridge” at White’s Chapel UMC

This is an exciting FREE opportunity for students interested in Leadership Development and Intercultural Communication. Three nationally recognized speakers will be presenting “Conversations that Connect” – an interactive program that explores ways to listen beyond words, recognize and transform bias, and select approaches that lead to trustworthy influence across a variety of viewpoints. Expand your focus from personal experience to a global perspective. Join our renowned presenters in an event where everyone has a voice! Come find yours – and change the world! Free lunch provided by Chick-Fil-A.

Limited Seating – Register Now

Participation in this event can be added to a student’s resume and is open to surrounding schools. Don’t miss out! Register today, as it is expected to fill up fast.

Registration closes January 15. 

Participation in this event can be added to a student’s resume and is open to surrounding schools. Don’t miss out! Register today, as it is expected to fill up fast.

There are two ticket types:

  • International Students:  Were you born outside the US or have a parent who was born outside the US? If so, this is the ticket for you!
  • American Students: Were you born in the US to parents who were also born in the US, then this is the ticket for you!

“Conversations that Connect” is hosted by the White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative in partnership with Kairos Collaborative

ATTN: Youth Directors wishing to register a group of students can do so by emailing a list of students’ names, email addresses, and grade level to Todd Porter.

For further information, call Ann Davis at 940 230 3065.  

Speakers for this event:

Jessica Davidson joined the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in May, 2017, bringing with her over 20 years of experience as a thought and strategy partner to executives and senior leaders in both the public and private sector.

In her current role as a senior faculty member in CCL Global Markets, she regularly presents customized leadership development programs for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to community-, school-, and faith-based organizations throughout the United States.

Applying professional skills and personal compassion, Ms. Davidson connects people with their personal purpose and the needs of the people around them. In ”Conversations that Connect”, she will share her findings as a social scientist whose passion is to hear the unspoken and to build from differences a bridge over which everyone can walk. Using listening as the key to influence, Mrs. Davidson assures that everyone exits with a strong sense of personal identity, belonging, and power to keep the conversation going.

Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is a certified executive coach through the International Coach Federation. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Dr. David Campt (@thedialogueguy) is considered a national expert in the areas of inclusion and equity, cultural competence, and intergroup dialogue. For more than 25 years, his insights about the keys to more inclusive and effective institutions and communities have been sought by small executive boards of fewer than a dozen to large-scale summits involving thousands of people. His clients have varied widely, and have included the US military, The White House, large corporations, international organizations, foundations, governments, universities, national associations, and non-profit groups.

David is the author of a number of books including The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects (2007) and Read the Room for Real: How A Simple Technology Creates Better Meetings. (2015). In early 2016, he created a project called the Ally Conversation Toolkit (ACT), which has engaged thousands of people in person and on line. Under this initiative, David has written three books – White Ally Toolkit Workbook, a supplement for the workbook called the Discussion Group Leaders Guide, and the Compassionate Warrior Boot Camp for White Allies. David’s work on dismantling racism has been featured by a number of prominent media outlets, such as Think Progress and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In “Conversations That Connect”, Dr. Campt will be addressing, among other strategies, ways to not only detect but transform bias.

Todd Porter has been designing optimal energy management for commercial operations throughout the United States since 1995. His leadership roles in Performance Assurance, Quality Assurance, and Research and Development led to the discovery that the biggest challenge isn’t technical. It’s incorporating change in ways that outlive the immediate initiative and achieve long-term impact. In other words: How do humans move from “enlightenment” to improved patterns that last?

To explore the dynamics of change in human systems, Mr. Porter completed Case Western’s masters’ program in Positive Organization Development. This practical curriculum integrates the science of human development with the practice of organizing humans to work together toward common goals. This expertise in human organizing – combined with the creative skills embedded in his bachelors in Electrical Engineering and masters in music – accords Todd a unique set of expertises: Relational, Artistic, and Technical Fluency.

Combining these areas over the past decade, Mr. Porter has led compassionate communication workshops based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life. His presentations have equipped professional, community, and faith-based groups that include large suburban school district leaders, university interview officers, movers and shakers within the Wild Goose Festival and other 501(c)(3) organizations, church staff and municipal leaders, and participants in a variety of regional and national conferences. For details see www. .

The conviction underlying all of Todd’s work is that empathic connection between human beings enables us to create the world we long for: A world in which everyone has what they need. His work with “Conversations That Connect” creates positive impacts that last – no matter your present goal or geography.

“Conversations that Connect” is hosted by the White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative in partnership with Kairos Collaborative.

ELL Family Fun Day

Did you hear the shouts of “Bingo” mixed with giant Jenga pieces toppling, good-natured challenges over the tossing of bean bags, and happy chatter over graduation refreshments all livening Evans Hall at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church on Sunday, June 23?  That was the gleeful noise of over 40 of our Refugee Initiative’s English Language Learning (ELL) students and their families sharing high fives as we celebrated the finale to another successful year of learning together at our Family Fun Day.  Several of the kids asked if we could do it again next week – and we would if we could!!  What an amazing group of people, all of whom have overcome so much.  Our volunteer faculty and support teams feel so blessed to share in their lives as we help them learn the English language and its route to a better life in their hew homeland!  We see Christ’s Face in theirs – and pray they see a similar Light in ours.

Potluck Patriotic Picnic Provides Phellowship

Students and volunteers had such a wonderful experience at our Saturday morning English classes for adults in our White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative English Language Learning (ELL) program that they celebrated in grand style at the Patriotic Picnic. The potluck affair was filled with warm smells and tasty treats from the students as well as the volunteers. Participants savored authentic Vietnamese egg rolls, waffles, broccoli salad, an ancient family recipe of baked beans, and many pastries and other goodies. The atmosphere was so festive that nobody minded the heavy rains and thunder that threatened.

Students exchanged phone numbers with the volunteers and requested that the group photos that were taken would be shared with all. It was so fun, in fact, that few wanted to leave even after the deluge began. Luckily, all stayed warm and dry inside the cafeteria of Light of the World Church where classes take place. Everyone is looking forward to the resumption of classes on August 17 at 10:00 a.m.