Eielson DEIA hosts L.I.V.E. event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carson Jeney
  • 354th Fighter Wing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

The Eielson Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility team held a Leading Inclusively Virtual Experience training on Feb. 8, 2024.

This training is a DEIA tool developed by Air University to help participants better understand inclusivity through simulated scenarios with real people behind avatars. Participants are given a scenario in which they need to discuss a situation with the avatar. They are also encouraged to discuss the topics with the class to gain further perspective.

“The L.I.V.E program uses mixed virtual reality to create an immersive learning environment where Airmen can have real-time, authentic conversations with human-controlled avatars and other participants,” said Paul Wayfield, 354th Fighter Wing DEIA manager. “Participants engage subjects that advance their understanding of fostering inclusion, counteracting bias, and recognizing blind spots.”

An Airman who attended the training felt that the interactive experience would be beneficial across all enlisted and officer tiers in the Air Force.

“For me, it was a lot more realistic than I expected it to be,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Semaj Williams, 354th Maintenance Squadron low observable aircraft structural maintenance technician. “When it comes to the conversational skills, or understanding of the topic that we were discussing, it was a pretty good opportunity to practice. As I work through the Air Force and get to leadership roles, I'll have the opportunity to say, ‘I've been through this, I have a better idea of how to handle these situations.’”

DEIA training, such as the L.I.V.E. program, allows for the scenario to take place and attendees to discuss and provide feedback to the participant. Supervisors attending the training felt that the learning opportunity involved can be very helpful to developing the Air Force’s noncommissioned officer tier.

“Events like this are very important for developing our NCO corps because they can expose our personal bias and put us in uncomfortable situations which will force us to think differently,” said Tech Sgt. Kevin Evans, 355th Fighter Generation Squadron specialist section chief. “It also helps us prevent those biases and ways of thinking not only at work but in our lives.”

Evans also felt that the training was important due to the diverse nature of the Air Force and could be important to mission success.

“The Air Force is composed of so many different Airmen from all walks of life, religions, cultures and sexual orientation,” said Evans. “The smallest biased decision to you, could be a contributing factor that hugely affects another Airman. When we have affected Airmen, mission effectiveness is compromised.”

Eielson’s DEIA team plans on holding L.I.V.E. sessions monthly to increase understanding across the installation and Air Force.

“The more leaders you have to understand these concepts, the more efficiently you can run a section, a group, a wing,” said Williams. “I think it can trickle down and make everything a little bit better. This was a great opportunity I think everybody should take.”