The Challenge 2 Change event, hosted by Williamsville North High School at Daemen College this year, was an extremely positive experience. Students from different high schools such as Amherst, Tonawanda, Williamsville South and our own dear Sweet Home came together, with open minds, to learn about the importance of our diverse communities and the crucial importance of understanding racial opinions and attitudes. The University of Buffalo’s School of Social Work also took part in this. University students became leaders during the important discussions held.
Guest speakers and performances
As the event was held among hundreds of people, guest speaker Kara Oliver delivered a passionate message on self-confidence, kicking off the event. Later, three other guest speakers performed individual and group poems, on the struggles of racism and society in general along with the importance of unity.
The Challenge 2 Change event was meant to make people uncomfortable, in a positive way. Students from every school that attended where seated in different tables with complete strangers from other schools. Topics like prejudice, racism, micro-aggression, and empathy were introduced. Even though topics like these can be controversial, the unity and understanding between students was noticeable. Everyone was very respectful as people created their own definitions as an exercise. Sharing the definitions was also part of the exercise. For much of the time, each group went to different parts of the college campus where students had to share their opinions on issues among their groups. For example, we were asked if we would be comfortable with talking with our families about mixed marriage or if we would be comfortable holding hands with someone of the same gender. Students had to step on a sticker on the ground that was either red, meaning they wouldn’t be comfortable, yellow, being sort of comfortable, or green, being totally comfortable. Later, we all discussed on why the majority would choose red or green. Personal experiences and memories were comfortably told and even though issues like these can leave people short of words, everyone had an opportunity to speak and share.
How did our school take part in this?
Only a minimum number of students are accepted into the event since space is limited. However, every year this event has been hosted by students of the town of Amherst. Sweet Home can have the opportunity to be the next host, it’s important to keep that in mind and hopefully do something soon.