For a second time in as many years, Hope College was host to the "Calling All Colors" racial unity conference of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.
Nearly 200 students from 12 Ottawa and Muskegon
county middle schools came together on Tuesday, Oct. 17, during the
conference for diversity dialogues and activity workshops.
The purpose of the event, now in its fifth year, was to
increase 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.
Ortencia Ruiz, conference coordinator, said that
teens at previous conferences have called the event
"awesome, cool, educational"; others said that they
appreciated "being around many kinds of people and having
fun, getting a chance to express our ideas and get them out
in the open."
To give the young teens a global perspective,
international students at Hope led music, games and
dance workshops demonstrating aspects of their cultures.
The keynote speaker will be Rick Muniz, who is principal of
Longfellow Elementary School in Holland. D. Wesley
Poythress, assistant dean for multicultural life at Hope, welcomed students to the conference.
After the conference the students will work on racial harmony action plans at their own middle schools. They will attend a follow-up
conference on Monday, April 30, at Grand Valley State
University in Allendale.
The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, formerly
known as the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance, is a
grassroots group that works to promote racial harmony
through education, advocacy, support networks and
celebrations. The alliance began organizing the area's
"Calling All Colors" conference in 1996.
Hosts for the event were Hope's Office of
Multicultural Life and the Office of the Provost. Support
for the event was provided by the college and a number
of area companies and organizations.
The middle schools participating in "Calling All
Colors" were: Holland East; Macatawa Bay, West Ottawa;
Lakeshore, Grand Haven; White Pines, Grand Haven; Spring
Lake; Muskegon Heights; Bunker, Muskegon; Steele, Muskegon;
Reeths-Puffer, Muskegon; Fruitport; St. Mary Catholic,
Spring Lake; and Black River, Holland.