Culturally Safe Didactic Dialogue Circles: Student and Cultural Community Leader Engagement

Contributor: ,

Connie Kim Yen Nguyen-Truong, PhD, RN
Michelle Closner, MN, RN
Roschelle L. Fritz, PhD, RN


Cultural community leaders (CCLs) are often gatekeepers between nursing students and communities of color, including immigrants and refugees. Trust is important to achieving sustainable relationships with communities of color who have suffered historical trauma. CCLs and nursing students alike need to feel emotionally and psychologically safe when interacting. Graduate faculty conducting community-engaged research, who also teach the Advanced Topics Independent Study course to PhD nursing students, used culturally safe didactic dialogue circles (DDC) to support safe learning while concurrently maintaining sustainable research relationships (i.e., with an Asian-based community health organization and an immigrant and refugee community service organization in a metropolitan area). DDC is a structured dialogue process that provides a safe space for intentional dialogue involving difficult and painful topics (Pranis, 2014). A culturally safe communication space is achieved when stakeholders (i.e., CCLs, nursing students, and faculty) trust and openly share thoughts and experiences about difficult and painful topics, consider the needs and values of all parties, and feel empowered to define and determine when they are in a safe space. Popular education tenets inform this work. Tenets include: using ones’ head, heart, and body; colearning with trust; allowing equal sharing of experiences between stakeholders; recognizing that knowledge acquired through life experience is as important as knowledge acquired through formal education; taking ownership for learning; and using artistic teaching, such as reflecting through storytelling (Wiggins, 2012). DDC goals facilitate building trust, learning in a safe space about one another’s story and needs, reflecting, and walking alongside one another through difficulties.



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