Speaker Encourages Middle Schoolers to Stand Together
BY ASHLEY JONES
A diversity expert spoke to Collegiate Middle Schoolers today about a statewide initiative that seeks to support Virginia residents who are immigrants, refugees and from varying religions, races and ethnicities.
Jonathan Zur, president and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, offered suggestions to 5th-8th Graders about how to be more accepting of differences and why it’s important to support one another.
Youths and adults in communities throughout Virginia are taking the Standing Together pledge, which is being facilitated by the Center for Inclusive Communities. It invites supporters to join together against Islamophobia [fear of the Islamic religion] and xenophobia [fear of immigrants].
Mr. Zur said it is important to “stand in solidarity” with one another in regard to these issues, and to also stand up against bullying.
“When you see something happen, ask ‘What can I do,?’” Mr. Zur said. “We need to go from being bystanders to upstanders. We can go from just stopping these problems…to preventing them from happening. We’re all in this community and need to stand together.”
Mr. Zur also explained the difference between diversity and inclusion.
“Diversity is the presence of difference and inclusion is the accepting and respecting of it.”
Collegiate Guidance Counselor Sally Chambers said Middle Schoolers were well prepared for Mr. Zur’s topic.
“[This is] timely in terms of what we’re doing at the School, and what they’re learning [about] stereotypes, but also timely in a sense with what is going on around the world, in terms of Islamophobia,” she said.
After hearing Mr. Zur speak, Middle School members of Mosaic, Collegiate’s student diversity and inclusion club, joined Upper School Mosaic members in an exercise that helped them explore how their differences can actually bring them closer.