Students from 10 middle schools in Ottawa and Muskegon counties will come together on the Hope College campus on Tuesday, Oct. 8, for the seventh annual "Calling All Colors" racial unity conference.
"Calling All Colors" is a project of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA) and co-sponsored by Hope.
Through the day-long conference, 150 students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds will take part in diversity dialogues; cultural activities, including music, art and dance; and cooperative games. The purpose is to increase the students' awareness of stereotyping and its effects; to offer a safe place to discuss feelings about race and race relations; to learn about different points of view; and to expose students to a college campus.
The keynote speaker is Ms. Nery Garcia, principal of Washington Elementary School in Holland.
To give the middle-schoolers a global perspective, Hope international students will teach music, art, dance and activity workshops. The diversity dialogue, which is a cultural simulation, titled BaFa BaFa, will be facilitated by members of LEDA, Hope faculty and students, and community members.
After the October 8 conference, students will work on racial harmony action plans back in their school communities. The students will return to the spring "Calling All Colors" conference at Grand Valley State University to report on their successes.
Gail Harrison, executive director of LEDA, said that students in previous years have called the event "awesome, cool, and educational"; others said that they appreciated the opportunity to talk about issues of race and meet other kids interested in finding ways to get along.
Participating schools include Bunker Middle School of Muskegon; Holland East Middle; Holland West Middle; Lakeshore Middle of Grand Haven; Reeths-Puffer Middle of Muskegon; St. Mary's Catholic School of Spring Lake; Steele Middle School of Muskegon; Walden Green Day School of Spring Lake; West Ottawa-Macatawa Bay of Holland; and White Pines Middle of Grand Haven.
The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance is a grassroots organization working to promote racial harmony. LEDA is also the sponsor of the Ottawa Area Summit on Racism. Assisting in organizing the conference are the Hope College Office of Multicultural Life, Office of International Education and the Office of the Provost.