INTRO: Today at 4pm on the campus of Hope College, Michigan State University professor Dr. Brenda Alston-Mills will give a lecture on how diversity and inclusion can get negative responses, whether spoken or unspoken.
It’s at Maas Auditorium in Holland. It’s been a busy week around there for racial equality issues. Middle and High school students held their annual anti-racism forum. That was Monday and Tuesday.
Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus spoke with one of the participants. 16 year old Anneka Johnston from Black River High school in Holland.
Calling All Colors is a program that engages middle and high school students. It’s sponsored by a non-profit group called the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance in Holland. The program creates a safe place to talk about race and collaborate on action plans.
At the beginning of the school year, participating schools select a core group of students to attend the opening conference, held at Hope College. This conference includes a keynote speaker, facilitated dialogues, and school-group planning sessions. Students have the opportunity to meet students from other schools, increase awareness of different viewpoints, learn about stereotyping and its effects, discuss feelings about race, and be exposed to the college campus.
Following the opening conference, student groups meet back at their schools and participate in rare open, honest discussions about race issues within the school context. The groups follow a carefully designed set of activities and materials that prompt discussion throughout the year. Students discuss questions such as where students sit in the cafeteria, what jokes are made in the hallways, and how students from all cultural backgrounds are accepted. After identifying areas of concern in their particular school, students develop and implement action plans to address the identified issues.
Near the end of the year, student groups gather at Grand Valley State University for a second conference in which student groups present their projects and outcomes. They also hear a keynote speaker, participate in additional dialogues, and engage in cooperative activities.
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Over 260 students from eleven area middle schools and elevent area high schools gathered at Hope College on the 8th and 9th of October, respectively. This year marked the 17th annual conference for the middle school group and the 6th annual conference for the high school group.
At the conferences, students had the opportunity to meet students from other schools, increase awareness of different viewpoints, learn about stereotyping and its effects, discuss feelings about race, and be exposed to the college campus.
Keynote speaker, Andre Daley, new Associate Executive Director at the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, shared his experience immigrating to the United States from Jamaica as a teenager. Later, students partook in an activity named BaFa BaFa – a cultural exchange simulation in which the students were taught a set of “rules” for their ascribed group, and then the two groups attempted interact with other.
In the afternoon, the students participated in cooperative activities that encouraged sharing ideas with other students.
Many gracious thanks to the Conferences Host: Hope College
Emcee: Sally Woods
Participating Middle Schools & Liaisons: Corpus Christi, Harbor Lights, Holland East, Holland West, Holland Heights, Holland High 8th and 9th, Jefferson, Lakeshore, Macatawa Bay, St. Mary’s, and White Pines
middle school conference photos…
high school conference photos…
“People have so many different experiences at other schools and it’s cool to see everyone come together.”
“I just saw ‘cultural intelligence’ in a new light.”
“Learn to observe others’ cultures. If you don’t know anything about that culture – ask questions.”
“I enjoy coming to these conferences so I can connect and get to know people who care about diversity.”