2000-05-06 Holland Sentinel Students show how they promote diversity

Students show how they promote diversity
Holland Sentinel

Holland West Middle School eighth-grader Jennifer Clark believes that if people are going to accept and understand cultural diversity, they have to learn early in their lives. As part of a year-long project she and a group of peers filmed a video on breaking stereotypes and presented it to sixth-graders in the Holland Public Schools district.“Sixth-graders are just getting into school,” Clark said. “(The video) was about different cultures, how to get along with other people and not to judge people.”

The West Middle School group was among nearly 200 students form 12 Ottawa and Muskegon county middle schools that took part in diversity dialogues, cultural activities and presentations at Grand Valley State University in Allendale on Friday. The daylong event was a follow-up to the fifth annual Calling All Colors fall conference at Hope College hosted by the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance. There, students initiated action plans to increase appreciation for racial diversity at their schools.

“This is to show what they accomplished with their goals and what they need to do,” said Hoa Nguyen, an eighth-grade science teacher the West Ottawa’s Macatawa Bay School. Students participated in such activities as Mexican dance, poetry writing, Chinese dragon dance and martial arts and African beadwork.

The Macatawa Bay students conducted a survey throughout the school year, questioning students on their experiences with discrimination and their attitude toward other people. They plan to form diversity training workshops next year for other students using the results of the survey, according to 14-year-old Bopha Duch. “We’re trying to get people to come together as one,” Duch said.