Webisode Discussion Questions | Shelbyville Multimedia

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Adapted from the film Welcome to Shelbyville
directed and produced by Kim A. Snyder

Webisode Discussion Questions

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Click the links below for discussion questions for the following webisodes:

“New Neighbors Give Thanks”

“Shelbyville UNITY Night”

“Miss Beverly Part 1: What Would My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Think?”

“Miss Beverly Part 2: Beverly Breaks the Ice”

“Miguel: Our Dreams”

“Ms. Luci: A Teacher Makes Connections”

“Miss Marilyn: This Is Our Chance”

“Pastor Stephen Part 1: Embrace the Stranger”

“Pastor Stephen Part 2: God’s Children”

“Hawo Part 1: From Somalia to Shelbyville”

“Hawo Part 2: The American Way”

“New Neighbors Give Thanks”
Description: Sometimes breaking bread is the best way to break the ice.
Total Running Time: 04:47

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    At dinner, the Imam Mohamed doesn’t hold Beverly’s hand for grace for religious reasons and Marilyn wants to know why. Have you ever been in a situation where a stark cultural or religious difference has contributed to misunderstanding or tension? What did you or could you have done to help create more understanding?
3)    The mayor explains that getting to know people is what brings about good relationships -but that’s not always easy. Have you ever been surprised to learn you had more in common with a stranger than you expected?

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“Shelbyville UNITY Night”

Description: Shelbyville residents from all walks of life come together to build trust amidst cultural difference.
Total Running Time: 03:47

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Marilyn and Miguel see their own respective civil rights struggles reflected in what the Somalis experience in Shelbyville. “I hope with more integration we’ll start to see change in our community,” says Miguel. Why do you think integration has been so important to civil rights struggles?
3)    “We are so much more alike than we are different,” explains Marilyn about the Somalis and herself. Consider a population in your community that is different from you; what similarities do you share with them?   If you’re unsure, how might you find out?
4)    On Community Unity night, Mayor Ray discusses bridge-building with others: “We talk about how we should love one another, but we’re going to have to find ways to make that happen.” What organizations are working to make your own community more united? What are they doing or what could they be doing to help residents –both short and long-term– build bridges across differences?

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“Miss Beverly Part 1: What Would My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Think?”

Description: Longtime Shelbyville resident Miss Beverly reflects on the inevitability of change – from a new presidency to her new neighbors.
Total Running Time: 02:07

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Beverly reflects on the changing times, from when her parents could not vote to the first black U.S. President. What rights do you or don’t you have that are different from others in your community? Do you deserve them more or less? Why or why not?
3)    In the hair salon, one man says about Somalis in Shelbyville: “I don’t have a problem with it…it just makes it a little bit tougher to live with them when you can’t communicate.”  Can you think of a time when a language barrier complicated a situation for you? How might the situation have been different if there was no language barrier?
4)    Beverly notes a three-month period in her life when she worked at Tyson: “It was enough for me to want to go get an education… most of us [Americans] don’t want to work it.” Have you ever had to work at a job that you didn’t like? Were you able to move on to other opportunities? Why or why not?

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“Miss Beverly Part 2: Beverly Breaks the Ice”

Description: As Beverly gets to know the Somali women in her community, she learns she has more in common with them than she thought.
Total Running Time: 03:52

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Beverly takes a risk and asks her Somali neighbors about the “buzz around town” that the Somalis in Shelbyville are going to start blowing things up. This broke the ice and paved the way for a difficult conversation. Have you ever had to ask a risky question? How did it go? Would you have done anything differently?
3)    Hawo laments that the “newspaper gives the wrong impression about us” and Beverly notes: “I could be her. Yeah, I could be one of them.” Can you think of a time when you felt people were getting the wrong impression of you or someone you care about? Did anyone step in to help clear it up or how would it have been different if someone did?
4)    Beverly explains at one point that “when you’re trying to pull a community together, there’s so much to be cleared up.” What do you think she means by this? Have you ever been in a situation of trying to “pull a community together”?

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“Miguel: Our Dreams”

Description: Originally from Mexico and now a U.S. citizen, Miguel reflects on how our experiences shape the meaning of the American Dream for each one of us.
Total Running Time: 03:18

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Reflecting on the American Dream, Miguel explains: “We just came to work and if they allowed us to work and accomplish our dreams, I feel like it would be a different country.” How would the U.S. be different if it denied immigrants the right to work?
3)    What does the “American Dream” mean to you? How does Miguel’s story fit into that idea, if at all?
4)    “I feel like somebody needs to come forward and say something, do something,” says Miguel, who attends the Community Unity event to help create a more welcoming community.  Can you think of a time when you were adjusting to a new place – workplace, church, school, etc. – and you were in need of help? Did anyone help you or speak up for you? If so, how did that experience of getting support change who you are and what you do today?

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“Ms. Luci: A Teacher Makes Connections”
Description: ESL and U.S. Civics instructor Ms. Luci believes educating newcomers is key to building a healthy community.
Total Running Time: 02:20

Discussion  Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Luci explains that before the Somalis arrived in Shelbyville, she heard a lot of negative comments from long-term residents, claiming that teaching Somalis English could lead them to “turn it around” and use it against residents. Do you agree or disagree that lowering the language barrier is dangerous? Why or why not?
3)    Discussing the need to educate newcomers, Luci says: “I think that’s what it’s about; it’s about helping each other, regardless of what color you are… who you are.” How does educating newcomers help or hinder the creation of healthier communities?
4)     Luci feels that teaching is a calling. “I hope there are more people like me that will step forward and help them.” Have you ever felt called to help others despite resistance from people that you care about? If yes, why did you do it?

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“Miss Marilyn: This Is Our Chance”
Description: Miss Marilyn reflects on what it was like growing up in the segregated South, and points out that more needs to be done to keep moving our communities forward.
Total Running Time: 02:50

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Reflecting back on her experience of segregation and how painful it was, Marilyn explains that there were some who did not want black teachers like her in their schools. “Shelbyville,” she says, “has come a long way.” What are some new challenges you face in your community today that didn’t exist before? What conditions need to be in place for your community to overcome those challenges?
3)    Talking about the number of immigrants coming to Shelbyville, Marilyn tells us that “we’ve got to help each other… this is our chance to prove to the world…” that we are all equal. Do you share these values? Do you know anyone with different views? What do you think informs these perspectives?

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“Pastor Stephen Part 1: Embrace the Stranger”
Description: Pastor Stephen faces the challenge of helping others understand what it means to “embrace the stranger.”
Total Running Time: 03:24

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Talking about the shifting times, Pastor Stephen hopes “that through our faith and understanding we can embrace the stranger.” Who are the “strangers” in your own community? What conditions make it easier to embrace them? What conditions make this more difficult?
3)    Pastor Stephen explains that people have come to him to talk about how they can move beyond distrust for people of another color or race. He hopes that his role in the leadership of his church will help to calm those fears. In what ways do you share similar fears? Who are the leaders in your community that you can turn to or direct others to for support and guidance?
4)    “I respect you and your beliefs,” explains Pastor Stephen to Imam Mohamed, taking a first step to overcome his concern about significant differences of faith with Muslims. Have you ever had to find common ground with someone who had different beliefs from you? What helped you do that?

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“Pastor Stephen Part 2: God’s Children”
Description: Are interreligious relationships possible in a small town like Shelbyville? Pastor Stephen and Imam Mohamed have a first conversation.
Total Running Time: 04:09

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Pastor Stephen and Imam Mohamed talk about their differences. The Pastor explains that a lot of Shelbyville residents see negative things on television and hear things about Islam but, “then you are here and you are peaceful and accommodating. How can we help?” Do you think a dialogue like this would have an impact in your community? Why or why not?
3)    Imam Mohamed says that Muslims are always portrayed in the news as bad. Pastor Stephen agrees: “The same is true in the church. You have fringe elements that interpret the teachings in a way that makes us all look bad.” What stereotypes do you hear often about the communities you care about? Are they true? What stereotypes do you often hear about communities that you don’t have a relationship with? Do you think they are true? Why or why not?

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“Hawo Part 1: From Somalia to Shelbyville”
Description: After fleeing civil war in Somalia, Hawo now faces new challenges as a refugee in the U.S.
Total Running Time: 03:12

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Hawo is disappointed because she expected a different America: “Most people are not welcoming to me.” If you were in Hawo’s shoes, how would you feel?  What does “welcoming” mean to you?
3)    Former Mayor Stephenson shares his fears: “From what I know about Muslims, they don’t like us; they’re out to kill us…”. But Hawo just wants to live peacefully. What do you think has influenced Stephenson’s perceptions? In your opinion, what would it take to lessen his fears?

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“Hawo Part 2: The American Way”
Description: Hawo makes strides in getting to know her new neighbors and home.
Total Running Time:02:49

Discussion Questions:
1)    What jumped out at you while watching this webisode?
2)    Hawo laments that Somalis in Shelbyville have been portrayed as disrespectful and as people who do not follow the rules, “but it’s not true,” she says. Have you ever been in a situation where you or people that you cared about were being portrayed in a bad light? What contributed to the misunderstanding and what did you do or what could you have done to resolve it?
3)    Hawo is working hard to learn as much as she can and to build bridges with other Shelbyville residents. “You need community,” she says, “American, Somalian, Spanish.” What does community mean to you? What do you think contributes to a healthy and vibrant community?

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