My name is Yonty (Jonathan) Friesem. I am so excited about the International Empathy Trainers Association. It has been a privilege to work with Edwin and the center for the last four years to advance empathy as a way of being. I cannot express in words how grateful I am to Edwin for connecting people and making all of us work together toward a shared vision of a more empathic world.
1. What is your name, background and interest with training empathy?
I am an assistant professor at Central Connecticut State University and the associate director of the Media Education Lab. Six years ago, I started to look at empathy as a process and skills that my students were gaining as I was teaching them to become filmmakers. During the my time as a high school media teacher in Israel, I was observing how working together on a real world issue enhances the cognitive, social and emotional skills of my high school students. Later, as I moved to the US to pursue my PhD in Education at the University of Rhode Island, I worked with foster youth and teenagers from conflict area such as Palestine/Israel, Northern Ireland and Uganda. Everytime I would work on a collaborative video the students became more empathic. I decided to broaden my perspective to online interactions and other digital communication to see how we can enhance empathy. Now I am in the middle of building a website at DigitalEmpathy.net to advance our understanding on how to foster an empathic way of being using digital tools.
2. What are your ideas for forming an International Empathy Trainers Association?
As Edwin and I been talking for a long time on the path to bring an empathic way of being, we found that creating a framework for trainers, educators, coaches would be the best way to disseminate empathic practices. By having an international association devoted to an empathic way of being, we can bring many people together to spread the word and the practice. Having a support system such as discussion, research, professional development and conferences would enhance our ability to better connect with each other, understand our similarities and differences and spread our practice.
3. What sort of support do you need from IETA?
Looking at IETA as my community who understand my motivation to make our world a more connected place, I would like to see discussion such the one that each one of you generated posting your introduction. I would like us to meet online and off line as we develop a professional development practice and support research and publication (eventually I am an academic...)
4. How would you like to contribute of building the Association?
In the last year, I have been working on an empathy conference that would bring us all together to share ideas and brainstorm what is IETA, how can we promote empathy, and most important for me, to start finding a common answer to the question: what is empathy?
5. What questions do you have for others on the list?
I would love us to have a discussion on the definition of empathy of IETA. As an international association, the biggest advantage and challenge we have is the diversity of definitions of empathy. It is my understanding that working together to have a coherent definition would help us to reach out to people who might value empathy, but never looked at this concept as the phenomena they work toward.
I would be thankful if you would follow me on Twitter: @yonty
My Website: www.DigitalEmpathy.net
- International Conflict Resolution
- Digital Empathy
Empathy Based Process Interest
- Educator. Grades K-16
- Human centered design
- Media Production