Some 200 students from 12 Ottawa and Muskegon county middle schools gathered at Hope on Tuesday, Oct. 19, for the fourth annual “Calling All Colors” racial unity conference.
The all-day event is designed to increase students’ awareness of stereotyping and its effects, to offer a safe place to discuss feelings about race and race relations, to help the students learn about different points of view and to expose the students to a college campus. Organized by the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance (NOEDA), the conference included small-group diversity discussion sessions, cooperative games and activity workshops.
Several members of the Hope community participated in the event. To give the young teens a global perspective, international students at the college led hands-on-music, dance, arts and drama workshops demonstrating aspects of their cultures.
During the remainder of the school year, the middle school students will work on racial harmony action plans at their schools. They will attend a follow-up conference at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., in May. NOEDA is a grass-roots group that works to promote racial harmony through education, advocacy, support networks and celebrations. It began organizing the area’s “Calling All Colors” conference in 1996.