In a pioneering activity Estes Park High School students partnered with Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center students to take on issues of prejudice, discrimination and identity in an Intercultural Community Building workshop.
“As a student of Eagle Rock, I have personally had conversations venting my opinions on global issues. So when asked to be a part of a two day experiment with Estes Park High School to expand the conversation, I was excited,” said one Eagle Rock Student.
The intercultural workshop not only got students thinking about action, but showed a new perspective of the power that youth has to influence it.
“I’m always impressed by the maturity of our students. There are many brave voices in our schools, and many who think deeply about the complex issues facing our community and our country. Most kids are just looking for opportunities to do something meaningful with their lives. It’s critical that our community encourages that desire and uses that energy,” Dustin Morrow, EPHS English Instructor, said.
“While we have sporadically done things with Estes Park High School in the past, I think this was a really solid start to meaningful work together. I think the conversations and work really struck a nerve with people, and I think this has the potential to go statewide and really influence change,” Emiliano Vivanco, Eagle Rock School student, said.
In this workshop students looked at identity, and the idea that one cause of some major issues and stereotypes, for example, is something we referred to as “the single story,” based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk. A single story is when one person with some sort of power writes or presents one story of a people, as fact and the only truth. Something we are guilty of is buying into those stories, giving the writer the power to control the story of those people.
The next day students took a look at privilege, and what it means to have it or not. Some of the highlights of the day were the conversations with those students, who didn’t know about their different backgrounds and can call each other friends, while learning more about environmental racism and how that is affecting Puerto Rico.
“I was so impressed with the honesty and depth of conversation as students explored their own identities and privilege. It is an excellent foundation for future connection between the two schools,” Sarah Bertucci, Eagle Rock School Professional Development Associate, said.
Chloe Burke, EPHS Student said, “Personally, I thought the program was a beautiful and uniquely eye opening experience. The lessons and friends I discovered while at Eagle Rock I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life and I’m eternally grateful for Dustin Morrow, Glenn Case, and all others concerned who made it possible for me to go. I hope Estes Park and Eagle Rock schools confine to connect through projects and workshops often.”
The goal students came up with as a whole was to expand this conversation with more people in Estes Park, so more people can be thinking about their identity, privilege and how that affects them and others. The workshop ended with a speech written by Marely Avitia and Marcus Wade Prince, presented at the halftime of homecoming game, with the idea to help reach their goal of challenging people as one human race to have a conversation with someone they think they know, but don’t.