Long Island City, NY—To better understand the country’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity, 250 high school students from across the country will spend three days exploring and analyzing the multicultural neighborhoods of the world capitol of diversity, New York City.
The project, entitled “Community and Diversity,” is part of a national student conference sponsored by the Middle College National Consortium, a not-for-profit organization that supports a network of 31 high schools based on college campuses. Hosting the event are four consortium members–Middle College, International High School, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Arts and Technology at LaGuardia Community College, and Brooklyn College Academy at Brooklyn College.
From April 19 to the 21st, 23 groups of students will visit specific neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan where they will view landmarks, meet with local residents who have made an impact on their local communities through politics, business, and the arts, and eat at a local ethnic restaurant.
“The neighborhood tours will set the stage for students to discuss and to analyze the impact and issues that emerge as cultures, traditions, and individuals move, intersect, and grow in our world,” said Cecilia Cunningham, director of the consortium. “And they will come away with newfound ideas and insights that will help them to broaden and enrich their understanding of the country’s ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity.”
The conference will culminate with the students’ demonstrating what they have learned from their New York experience by building together a monument to Diversity and Community.
In preparation for the event, teacher representatives from each of the 24 schools in Chicago, California, Seattle, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Dallas, Houston, and Illinois have participated in online conversations since last August. They shared lesson plans and supported one another as they explored issues of diversity and community schools across the country. In February, the teacher-online community expanded and over 100 students were brought into the conversation. These students engaged in two 48-hour sessions where they discussed a common reading, Crossing the Blvd by Walter Lehrer and Judith Sloan, and completed common activities, surveys, and assignments.
When the students arrive in April, they will display 24 exhibitions pieces, which will be the starting point of their three-day journey. The entire planning process and conference will be documented by student ambassadors working with the producer’s project (www.theproducersproject.org).
The consortium, which is comprised of 31 high schools based on college campuses, has been driving educational innovation for at-risk high school students across the nation for the past 25 years. Since 2002, the organization has created 15 Middle College-Early Colleges with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Early College Initiative, which provides students with the opportunity to get their high school diploma and earn an associate’s degree at no cost.
For the past 14 years, the consortium has sponsored student conferences aimed at developing students’ understanding of the work beyond the classroom by addressing current social issues. Past conferences have covered such themes as human rights, media impact upon our youth, and corporate responsibility to the environment.