Fun and Fairness at HHREC

Fun and Fairness at HHREC

Sheila Arnolds, key note speaker of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, says that American slave masters thought slaves couldn’t learn anything; that they were ignorant and dumb. But that, of course, wasn’t true – every human being can learn. It was very unfair that slaves were treated like that.

Eight GISNY seventh graders learned about slavery and other human rights topics on November 14th, 2017 when they travelled to the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) in White Plains. This was the third annual HHREC conference.

The students travelled to the conference in the morning. The day began with a presentation by Sheila Arnolds, who told a story about how slavery affected its victims and how tragic that was. It was a very interesting story, and related directly to the HHREC goal of training students on “How to be an Upstander” and “Respecting Individuals.”

After the presentation, the roughly 100 students were split up into two breakout groups. The students from GISNY were split up into four teams: always two together in both breakout session. In the sessions, we learned how to be an upstander and respect others. In the second breakout session, for example, two short videos were shown. We then filled in a paper with examples of “micro-aggressions” at our schools, and how kids could respond to and prevent them.

Micro-aggressions are intentional or unintentional insults based on skin color, origin, gender, sexual orientation and other attributes. Some examples of micro aggressions could be if a white person clutches his purse when a black person walks by, or saying, “You’re white, you should be good at golf!” These kinds of reactions are based on unfair assumptions about people.

The other breakout session, on how to be and upstander, was also very interesting. Two different scenarios were presented, and then the actions of the characters were discussed. The students talked about whether the actions were right or wrong. Both sessions featured many discussion points and subjects.

Soon after the second session, each school regrouped and discussed how to implement these ideas within their communities. GISNY students talked about how they were upstanders in that our school is a Green School and helps fight climate change. We recycle and reuse, compost food, have class plants, and have a green team. Being an upstander doesn’t always have to be preventing bullying and helping weaker people, but can also be about helping the environment or animals.

Finally, all the students from GISNY got a magnificent treat at the Cheesecake Factory. It all was a very nice day!