"Talk to Me Nice" Teaches Power of Connection

Talk to Me Nice Event Photo 1

Charlotte, N.C./April 23, 2024 – In an age where connecting has never been easier or more convenient, true connection has never been rarer.

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Dr. Terza Lima-Neves participates in the Talk to Me Nice event. Photo by Amara Turner '24.

Dr. Terza Lima-Neves, professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, collaborated with Melissa Gonzalez, a professor at Davison College, to bring authentic connections back to college campuses through the Talk to Me Nice event.

The event, facilitated by Vanessa Flowers, founder of the Chicago-based organization Flower Girls Meet, was for female-identifying students. It not only united the two campuses but also helped individual participants learn more about themselves. 

“I have been wanting to create more inclusive opportunities to unite the two campus communities in social settings – both faculty and students,” said Lima-Neves. “I was thrilled to see students from both campuses interacting with each other and connecting in a space they felt safe in. We hope this is the first of many collaborative efforts between the two institutions where we engage socially and learn about each other.”

Throughout the event, the group was able to share their feelings about connection, including feelings about social anxiety after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as feeling othered, or marginalized, by racial and financial disparities that are present on college campuses across the nation.

“It all starts within, and being the friend, we want to see,” said Flowers.

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Student participants interact with one another during the Talk to Me Nice Event. Photo by Amara Turner '24.

In a discussion at Duke University, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Hallegere Murthy spoke on the health benefits of human connection.

“Just like exercise and nutrition, our relationships with one another are fundamental components of our overall health and well-being,” he said.  

Murthy launched a 5-for-5 Connecting Challenge in 2024 to encourage students to express gratitude, offer support or ask someone for help at least once a day for five days. 

Similar information was shared during the Talk to Me Nice event, when Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Nejla deLambert said that connection is a key step in learning what someone may have in common with someone else, despite any differences in race, culture, financial situation, or social status.

She, along with Licensed Clinical Social Worker Adria Goulet, shared that humans are wired for connection, so college students should make a special effort to find a community on campus and work hard to maintain relationships with their classmates, support staff and professors even after graduation.

Other topics covered included giving oneself grace, seeking mental health support when needed, taking the opportunity to celebrate accomplishments of all sizes and advocating for oneself by intentionally taking up space in a room, even if one feels different from the people around them. 

For those interested in learning more about connecting with themselves and others, the following resources are available for consideration:
* “The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee Taylor 
* “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
* “The Model of Belonging” by Dr. Mona Nour
* “The Pain We Carry” by Natalie Y. Gutiérrez and Dr. Jennifer Mullan
* “No Bad Parts” by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz
* “Radical Compassion” by Tara Brach
* “From Racism to Bigotry to Political Divisiveness, We All Have Been Othered in Some Way” by Brandi Sellerz-Jackson
* “How to Reverse the Psychology of Othering”
* “You Belong Write Here: Journal Prompts for Feeling Othered”


Contributions to this article were made by Vanessa Flowers. All photos were taken by JCSU student Amara Turner '24.

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