The Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue

Our Programs

To extend the mission of the YBCD to promote change and community-building through conflict transformation, mediation, educational workshops, and facilitated dialogue, the center provides planned programs that proactively reach out into the campus community and the community beyond the campus.

On an annual basis, we offer the Social Justice Institute for up to 100 new students. Every other year, we recruit and train a class of 24 volunteer mediators and facilitators to join existing YBCD members who provide social justice mediation and facilitation on campus. We host workshops at least once a semester that are not driven by existing conflict or disputes to help individuals proactively enhance their ability to communicate respectfully and productively with others.

We are fine tuning our drop-in hours program to provide students an opportunity for informal conversation and study space a few times each week. We also have a small team of members working to establish relationships in the city of oberlin. Keep an eye on this page to learn more about our evolving programming.


  • Workshops
  • Seasonal gatherings and study breaks
  • Empathy Café
    • At Oberlin College Empathy Café* is a skill building activity that supports the practice of Non-Violent Communication (NVC). Theory and principles of NVC are not taught explicitly in the Café context. Instead, it provides a casual and engaging way to build compassionate listening and conversational habits while gaining experiential understanding of three of the four building blocks of NVC: Observation, Feelings, and Needs. The activity or event as we practice it centers around the facilitated use of a set of Grok Cards**. One deck contains 70 feelings/emotions cards; the second deck contains 70 universal values and needs. 

      Empathy Café is appropriate for practice among strangers, people who have known one another for various periods of time, or a combination of the two. A typical Café might last 60 to 90 minutes; however, within the first 15-20 minutes, most participants have an experience that begins to change their perspective on listening and being heard in a profound way. All participants tend to benefit whether they share a story or not. Once an individual has experienced the Café the skills gained can be applied in communication in day to day contexts with family, friends, roommates, classmates, coworkers, colleagues, and teammates. Those who participate have the opportunity to proactively develop their capacity to reduce the likelihood of escalating destructive conflict in real world interactions.

      *The concept and design of Empathy Café was introduced to the Center by a member YBCD, Irene Bowers. Irene is an experienced and skilled NVC practitioner and trainer.

      ** Grok Cards can be purchased as a set of two decks. Grok Cards are available through:, or 


  • The Social Justice Institute
  • Observe National Mediation Week (third week of October)
  • Observe Conflict Resolution Day (third Thursday of October)


  • Social Justice Mediation and Facilitation Training


  • Jean Barker Intergenerational Program

Oberlin Friendship Circle seeks to promote the idea of employing friendship as a guide to any and all relationships. With the basic goal for peace and ethics, OFC strongly believes in the foundations of friendship, generosity, equality, and the embracing and appreciation of difference and diversity and political and everyday relations. OFC hosts the International Friendship Day at Oberlin College and weekly Persian tea and date sessions in the Lewis House to practice friendship among a warm community. For more information please visit the Oberlin Friendship Initiative Facebook page.