Its 10:30 at night and I should have gone to bed long ago. However, I’m still sitting downstairs reading on my laptop with tears streaming down my eyes. Tonight I was digging through the RSS feeds in my Bloglines account and stumbled across Wesley Fryer’s description of Idit Caperton’s closing keynote at NECC 2008. During the keynote Capterton referred to Telling Their Stories, an oral history project produced by the Urban School of San Francisco. For this project high school students conduct interviews with Holocaust Survivors, WWII Camp Liberators, and Japanese American Internees. I only clicked on one person’s story, Lucille Eichengreen, but after 30 minutes of reading and listening to her story I am completely moved by this project.
When I lived in Modesto I participated in a similar type of program called the Day of Respect. As part of this activity people, such as those profiled in Telling Their Stories, along with other community members who had faced discrimination would share their stories and struggles with students. The day was quite powerful and I think in many ways a great wake up call for students (and teachers) who often live in a bubble and assume everyone is just like them. Since then I have always tried to bring these experiences to my students. I want them to see that unfortunately we do live in a world full of hatred and discrimination, but we can change this by learning to treat each others as equals with kindness and mutual respect. Change starts with your own personal actions. When you have a moment check out Telling Their Stories. It even looks like they have an upcoming summer training.