RYC facilitates workshops on inter-group relations and prejudice reduction with middle and high school aged students. These workshops bring students together from various schools in Westchester County and focus on the issues that divide and bind students together in order to foster greater understanding and tolerance of differences. The program is designed to address the growing problems of bullying, teasing, exclusion and loneliness among teens and pre-teens.
For more information contact RYC youth advocate, Stephanie Low at 967-7723 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is what attendees have said...
By Remy Pinson
Rye High School
Diversity. Although it can be defined in many different ways, diversity usually stands for the tolerance and embrace of various races, religions, and opinions. It has also frequently been associated with our great nation of the United States. We pride ourselves upon the fact that our society is complete with people from all over the world. Former President and great ambassador Jimmy Carter once said, “We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” His statement embodies the idea that surrounded a day on which students from Holy Child, Blind Brook, and Rye got together at the Rye Recreation Center to discuss issues concerning racism, sexism, and other touchy subjects alive it our society.
The inspiring discussion was centered on topics not usually discussed in society today. Students were encouraged to speak out on their beliefs, and not be afraid to confide in the group something important to them. Generally considered politically incorrect, the students were asked to speak about stereotypes and why they exist. As words were spoken such as “black man” or “Jew,” the participants were supposed to say the first stereotype that came to mind. Shockingly, these people chosen by the faculty as caring and accepting people were remarking that racist and anti-Semitic stereotypes such as “love fried chicken,” and “gangster,” and “obnoxious” and “greedy” were the first things that came to mind. “This is perfectly normal,” interrupted Mrs. Low, as the tension in the room rose due to the fear that consequences were coming. She continued by saying that these remarks are what society has molded their minds to believe, although it may not necessarily be what they actually believe. Then people to whom the stereotype pertained had a chance to speak about what they thought when they heard what was said about their general population. They talked about how the stereotypes were made based upon the judgment of one person that did not in any way embody the qualities of their whole group.
Furthermore, topics on sexuality such as gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, were brought up with the intention of accepting these human beings for who they were and not judging them based on who they were attracted to. On student, who was 17, openly spoke of her bisexuality telling a moving story about the intolerance of her family and school. She told of how her family threatened to throw her out because bisexuality was not tolerated, and how her school forbade her from even speaking to her partner with whom she had openly began a relationship with. Hearing her story spoke volumes on how damaging intolerance can be, and how a simple acceptance of someone’s views and opinions can go such a long way.
Finally, Diversity Day was made to experience new people’s company and enjoy the encounter of new faces. I met many people whom I still keep in touch with, and enjoyed a fresh perspective on several different aspects of life. I was able to voice my opinion openly, not worrying about what other people thought about it, and had my mind opened to many different ways of looking at issues present in our society. Great people have said that knowledge is power, and that our generation would be the one to do something about the problems in our world. Diversity Day was one of the small steps taken to teach our generation the knowledge that tolerance and acceptance are the tools needed to advance this world and create a greater place for us to live.
By Avery Burke
When I was told I was chosen to participate in Diversity Day, I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to see the variety of students that showed up from other schools. Since my school is made up of mostly white students, it was interesting to hear about kids that come from all over the world.
We did activities that taught us about all the different types of families and religions. We also participated in activities that helped us understand each others’ interests and personalities. We had discussions about the problems in schools, such as clicks, gossip and even prejudice. I didn’t know that prejudice is still such a big problem in schools today.
I learned that insults considered harmless by most people such as, “You’re so gay”, might not be so harmless because you never know if a person has a friend or even parents who are gay. An idea presented to us near the end of Diversity Day was that we should take what we have learned and tell people once we get back to our schools. This is something I intend to do.
One problem I often encounter at school is kids mindlessly throwing insults at one another without knowing how hurtful they can be or what the words really mean. Because of Diversity Day, I realize that you should know what you’re talking about and think about the consequences of what you’re doing before you say something. Another thing I learned is that kids can treat each other differently because of certain hobbies or interests. Someone interested in dance might be treated differently than someone interested in sports or photography.
Diversity Day was a great experience. All the kids who attended were interesting and friendly. The discussions and activities were fun and taught me about the wide variety of people who live around us. It’s something I will tell people about and encourage the ideas I learned about.