The American Dream
Generally speaking, opportunity gap refers to inputs (the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities), while achievement gap refers to outputs (the unequal or inequitable distribution of educational results and benefits). Since early in America’s history, the American dream was the belief that anyone in this country (including immigrants) could make it if they worked hard enough. Some people believe this has always been an illusion, while others point to it as a legitimate heritage of our country. Similar differences in perspective exist today: Is the American Dream alive and well or do the realities of today’s American economy and socio-political structure hamper certain groups of people so they cannot achieve what others might? What do you find inspiring about your personal American dream? Different perspectives on this issue are rarely explored — and we hope you have fun doing so in your conversation!
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
The American Dream (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk.
- How do you describe the current American Dream? Is it alive and well?
- What do you find inspiring about your personal American Dream?
- Do you think the American Dream is unique to America? If so, how?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?