It can be challenging to find a safe space to talk about serious subjects, let alone share them with other people. Brave Heart, previously known as Conversation Circle, rebranded their group and is encouraging Minnesota State University, Mankato students to get involved and join their community.
Brave Heart is part of the Violence Awareness and Response Program at MSU that allows students all over campus to come in and discuss topics within a variety of categories. The group meets every other Wednesday in the Centennial Student Union 218 from 4-5 p.m.
Shadow Rolan, Director for Violence Awareness and Response, explained that the goal for the group is to bring awareness to campus on multiple various topics, such as sexual assault, domestic violence and self-care.
“We can talk about current event topics that’s in the media, but we usually just bring awareness and promote healthy relationships,” said Rolan. “That means relationships, friendships, family relationships, all that, and bringing awareness to the different cultural differences surrounding domestic and sexual violence.”
Mia Ker Thao, Graduate Assistant for the Violence Awareness and Response Program, decided to change the name for the group so that students wouldn’t feel as pressured to join.
“Brave Heart is used to be called Conversation Circle, but we changed the name so we don’t make it sound like it’s a group that you have to come and talk. You could just come and enjoy other people’s company because sometimes hearing other people talk about certain subjects kind of helps you out a little, even if you’re not the one doing the talking,” said Thao. “It just helps listening to other people.”
Brave Heart is also a place to discuss topics that may be considered taboo. Topics like domestic assault, partner abuse and family and childhood traumas are a few of the topics that are discussed at meetings. For those who have not experienced those situations, students can join to learn more about them.
“You don’t have to personally have experienced those traumas. One day [students] could just come in and talk about red flags in a relationship. Like, what do you think a red flag is? What do you think we should look out for? Why do you think those are red flags?” said Thao.
Communities, such as the LGBTQ+ and Asian communities, and the problems they face are also discussed within the group.
“In the Asian communities, there’s [topics] like saving space, and it’s about how keeping up a good face is more important than reporting abuse,” said Thao. “Having that image in Asian communities and honor and tradition is a big part of why many Asian women don’t report abuse.”
Brave Heart is hoping to become a safe space where students are free to talk about problems that concern them and to not feel as alone.
“We promote safe spaces, and we promote differences of opinions. We want people to come in with their own mind and perspectives,” said Rolan. “We want to get our perspectives out there, but also to learn from each other.”
“If you’re like, ‘I read this on the news yesterday and I’m very upset about it and I want to talk about it,’ come to Brave Heart. We’ll talk about it. Everybody will bounce ideas off each other. So if you need to talk about anything, Brave Heart is the group to do that,” said Thao.
Header Photo: The Brave Heart Program, formerly known as Conversation Circle, allows students to talk about difficult subjects in a safe place. (Courtesy Photo)