2010-10-19 Holland Sentinel Middle-schoolers turn out for Calling All Colors

Middle-schoolers turn out for Calling All Colors
Holland Sentinel

Holland, MI —
On a Monday morning at the Maas Center, dancer Laura Armenta coaxed about 150 students to get a little closer — both emotionally and physically.

“It doesn’t have to be your best friend, just another human,” Armenta instructed, as she prepared to teach the students a dance sequence. “Just stand next to them.”

Middle school students from the Holland area came together for a day of activities centered around cultural and ethnic diversity at the 15th Calling All Colors program on the Hope College campus.

The event is coordinated by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

During an afternoon activity called “How Diverse is My World,” students were asked to identify the racial or ethnic background of different people they encounter on daily basis — the last person they had lunch with, the last person they danced with, the last person who cut their hair.

For each race, students grabbed a different colored chip and placed it in a clear plastic bag. When they were done, some students had a rainbow of colors in their bags.

“It’s an opportunity for them to think about who they interact with,” Sarah Salguera, program director, said. “Is it mainly their own race, or do they have a diverse group they interact with?

“If we don’t have a lot of diversity in our interactions, how does that affect our understanding or our actions or our treatment of other people?”

Calling All Colors wrapped up with Armenta, whose dance routines reflect and blend a variety of styles, including African, Indian and Middle Eastern.

To the sound of pounding drums, she instructed students to link hands as she slowly fed them each step.

“Left, left, left, stomp, stomp,” she called out, the gold coins jangling on the Egyptian scarf tied around her hips.

She draws inspiration for routines from as many types of dance, from modern to ballet, as she does from different cultures.

“I kind of just make a salad of it,” she said. “Each country has a little bit of beauty to share.”

Photo by: Dennis R.J. Geppert. Area students laugh Monday during the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance Calling All Colors event at Mass Auditorium.