Penn Global Seminars How Deep Listening Heals

May 13, 2024
By Grace Dai, CAS '25

PGS: Seeing/Hearing Globally Indigenous Music and the Arts of Healing

Grace, one of the PGS Correspondents, shares her experience abroad during the Spring 2024 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.

As a child, one of the first ways I was taught to form relationships was by listening. Good listening skills will strengthen your friendships, I was told. It will show that you are present, that you understand, and that you care about others.

It wasn’t until this class that I thought about listening as being an intrinsic, deep inner part of our human being. One of my core memories from the class was learning about an Indigenous Australian woman named Miriam Rose, whose tribe and culture view deep listening as much more than a skill. To them, deep listening is a quality, a practice, an experience, and a gift that can be given to others.

In Miriam Rose’s Ngangikurungkurr language, deep listening is called dadirri (Miriam Rose Foundation). Dadirri brings awareness to the inner spring that lies within the spirit of every human, a body of water that holds ancestral knowledge of our identity, who we are, and where we come from. When we practice dadirri, we tap into our surroundings and the people around us in a new way. We listen with a mind of peace, patience, and quiet awareness, a mind that is not rushed on thinking about what words to say next. In doing so, we feel the experiences of the other person, of our surroundings, and of the present moment.

When we practiced deep listening in class, I felt a new level of connection and recognition emerge between my peers, as we opened up and shared things that are nearly never brought up in the hustle of our daily school lives. I learned about my peers’ ancestry, how their families have shaped them, and how their childhoods were similar or different from mine. While we were a very diverse group, we felt that each story was just as significant as another and that despite our differences, we all belonged in the space of that room.

Through deep listening, we can truly see those around us, recognize where we come from, and realize just how similar we might be to each other. I’m beginning to understand the power of experiencing that respect, belonging, and inner stillness, and how it can heal both the self and entire communities. Whether it is with my peers, those halfway across the world, or even the animals we inhabit the Earth with, we could all use a bit more of dadirri. I am incredibly excited to dive deeper into this inner stillness with Miriam Rose on the land of her origins and hope that I can carry and share the gift of dadirri wherever I go down the road.

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Penn Global Seminars combine intensive semester-long study with a short-term travel component that deepens your understanding of concepts discussed in the classroom. Courses options are available for Penn undergraduate students across majors and years.