Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) had a very energetic group of Grade 7s and 8s in the Tom & Anna Koffler Tolerance Training Centre today to participate in the Leadership 101 workshop. The students were very attentive listeners when it came to the presentation on historical discrimination here in Canada, and very eager participants when it came to participating in the group activities. It was clear to FSWC Educator Emily that these students had spent many years together as they were comfortable sharing their personal stories during our discussion of diversity. About 6 or 7 students each shared very different stories about their own interactions and understandings of what it means to live in a diverse society such as Canada. Whether it was celebrating new holidays or recognizing different religious traditions, these students shared their stories about what it means to live with, and in, diversity.
Today Emily also made a really good link between what it means to be a bystander and an upstander and how that relates to both discrimination and bullying. The students really connected with the idea that as Grade 7 and 8 students, they were leaders in their communities and in their schools, and that position held a lot of responsibility.
Tour for Humanity was at a public school in Cornwall and it was another very successful day! The principal greeted FSWC Educator Elena first thing in the morning and that set the tone of excitement for the rest of the day. Elena is not sure if she has ever had students that were THIS excited, which is saying something because we get met with amazement every day when kids come on the bus. Elena received compliments including, "this is my favourite presentation I've ever had" and " this is the best day of my life" and she received hugs from virtually every student in the second workshop as they exited the bus and one small group begged us to take them camping "for humanity." The receptivity of the students and staff really blew Elena away.
Each of the 6 presentations Elena gave were Simon's Story workshops and she was able to go into a lot of detail for the Grade 6s because they had finished the book Hana's Suitcase yesterday in preparation for the Tour for Humanity arrival today. Students had a lot of questions about Hana and her brother George and Elena did her best to answer while maintaining focus on Simon's life story and the broader context of the Holocaust.