Twelve. Twelve individuals decided to trust me to take them on a virtual journey like never before, and so I did.
As stated by one of the graduates of the first-ever Kaleidoscope Experience hosted in October 2022, understanding the lenses that shape our world and those around us is a “delicate dance.” When I decided to launch the Kaleidoscope Experience for my Interfaith Innovation Fellowship project, I knew the world was blurry for many. I wanted to help people find clarity to create room for connection, particularly in these times of chaos and unrest. In my experience, we often choose to stay disconnected from others because we fear what we do not understand. How can we understand what we do not explore?
In his book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel explains that we “all live in our own dreams.” Sometimes we try to make our dreams become the dreams of others, and it damages the relationships we attempt to build. Every single one of us walks in our own dream version of our reality. We may not realize how much our realities shape how we behave, think, and feel, but they are the driving force behind why we do what we do. Take a moment and reflect on your life, experiences, beliefs, and desires. What makes up your reality? How does your reality look to others on the outside based on how you present yourself? How do you view the realities of others?
I wanted to answer these questions for myself and for others when I developed the Kaleidoscope Experience. I knew this curriculum would be a risk as it would cover topics that most would rather run from than approach. A session where religion, politics, race, worldviews, culture, and life experiences would take center stage. A space where the average person would cringe at the idea of discussing these topics with strangers. I was determined to create a place that was accessible, inclusive, and comfortable enough for people to take the risk of peeking into the world of someone else.
I decided to build an interactive four-part series of one-hour sessions that challenged a diverse cohort of participants to become aware of and confront their worldviews through designing their own ‘life lenses’ in a hands-on, creative project. By navigating their unique designs together, participants had the opportunity to explore the worldviews of others via a facilitated dialogue and storytelling experience. With faith, spiritual, and moral foundations serving as the backdrop, the core aspect of this project encouraged participants to understand how their life beliefs shaped how they show up in the world and how they impacted how they perceive others. The space was terrifyingly beautiful. Each part dove progressively deeper into the worlds each person.
Quote from a participant: “I’m going to stop hiding who I am and stop trying to guess what others think about who I am.”
After setting ground rules during the first session to create a safe psychological space for sharing, participants began their journeys in full swing. Using physical kaleidoscopes as metaphors, with each jewel piece in the kaleidoscopes representing aspects of their “life lens,” participants had to physically deconstruct their lives for others to learn from them and vice versa. There was so much power in the metaphors of the jewels, as they created room for safety and for the participants to properly express themselves.
During the faith session, I remember the ease settling into the air as participants began to realize how much they shared connected lenses, as one of them expressed they saw how their lenses intertwined with others. I felt the tension as participants dared to share how their gender views have kept them from showing up authentically in the world. When the race and ethnic group conversation arose, one participant expressed how judging each other on our “largest organ” would be a disservice to our world. With each breath, it got just a little bit easier to own, but also question, each jewel in the lenses we carried. Every session cracked open possibilities for participants to connect on levels they had not before. Even outside of sessions, participants were to complete tasks to help build on what they had learned in sessions and put their lessons to practice.
Now that the experience is over, it has allowed the journey to truly begin. The Kaleidoscope Experience is a movement. While it is easy to feel lost in what we do not know, we can be found through simple dialogues.
As another one of our Kaleidoscope Experience graduates said it best: “Your truth doesn’t cancel out the existence of other people’s truths; they can coexist.”
Will you choose to see the essence of existence in others?
Watch the Kaleidoscope Experience Documentary:
Learn more about the project outcomes and the future of the Kaleidoscope Experience.
Sabriya Charles (Dobbins) is the award-winning Founder of Project Passport LLC, a preventative mental wellness company focused on empowering individuals and organizational teams to take control of their mental health through interactive retreat and workshop experiences. She is also the Founder and Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern for the mental health practice Fruits of Freedom Counseling, where services are provided to working professionals, teens, and emerging young adults to address mental health challenges. She is the author of the Christian-based business book, “Purpose Doesn’t Care What’s in Your Bank Account.” Connect on LinkedIn and find @projectpassportllc on Facebook and Instagram.