Photo by: Dennis R.J. Geppert, Holland Sentinel. Middle School students during afternoon "Mix It Up" activities.
Do we all really "pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps", as the popular saying goes? This question, among many others, was examined at this year's fall set of Calling All Colors conferences for middle and high school students.
Nearly 300 students from 11 area middle schools and 11 area high schools gathered at Hope College on October 18 and 19, respectively. This year marked the 15th annual conference for area middle schools and the 4th annual conference for area high schools.
During the morning plenary, students sat transfixed as keynote speaker Dr. Louis Moore, Assistant Professor of History at Grand Valley State University, share his split family history, tracing both his white and black ancestry back to the time of slavery and demonstrating how barriers and/or privileges affected each generation to follow.
Students then participated in small group dialogues that examined how institutional practices and personal prejudices provided opportunity to some and excluded others.
Facilitators provided information regarding government housing policies and historical testimonies while students walked through an interactive simulation that lead students through the struggles and accomplishments of two real families. The dialogue was brought to a close with the music video of Common's "A Dream"
School groups also were given time to begin brainstorming their Action Plans - activities, projects, and initiatives that will help create a greater appreciation for diversity in their school throughout the year.
In the afternoon, students participated in the activity, "How Diverse is My World", which encourages reflection on day to day interactions with those different from ourselves.
On the 18th, middle school students danced along with Laura Armenta, Owner and Artistic Director of Armenta Studios, who specializes in many styles of Middle Eastern and Latin dance.
On the 19th, high school students learned about Caribbean style drumming as well as merengue and bachata dances from Erick Pichardo, Visual Artist and Multimedia Performance Choreographer. watch video...
Emcee: Sally Woods
Welcoming Speakers: Alfredo M. Gonzales, Associate Provost and Dean for International & Multicultural Education at Hope College and Dr. Richard Ray, Provost at Hope College
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Louis Moore
Hope College Intern: Annie Jang
Cultural Activity Facilitators: Laura Armenta and Erick Pichardo
Volunteers: Saleena Alauddin, Lisa Bancuk, Waltraud Beckmann, Anna Bogertman, Stephanie Bogema, Thomas Bos, Bruce Cooke, Kate Davelaar, Ashley Dewitt, Jackie Frens, Ramon Garza, Elaine Isely, Barb Pyle, Lois Maassen, John Nash, Katherine Nash, Dan Roels, Kara Schipper, Nate Schipper, Estrella Trejo, Quincy Williams, Lauri Woudstra and David Zwart
Participating Middle Schools & Liaisons: Black River, Corpus Christi, Creekside, Holland Christian, Holland East, Holland High Eighth Grader, Jefferson, Lakeshore, St. Mary's, Steele and White Pines
Participating High Schools & Liaisons: Black River, Holland Christian, Juvenile Justice Institute, Muskegon Community Education Center, South Haven, Spring Lake, Wavecrest, West Ottawa, Zeeland East and Zeeland West