So we invite you to be a part of the conversation. Please share a story of how you or someone you know has made a difference in their community or our country.
Tell us where you see the values of opportunity, equality, and fair play at work in your life.
Explain how you or your organization have been involved in grassroots political organizing or activism that has been effective. What was the issue and what was the outcome?
And if you have ideas or suggestions for better ways to drive an agenda about promoting the American Dream, what are they?
These stories and ideas will be the foundation of a book I am writing about the power of ordinary Americans to shape this country’s future and protect the American Dream. We would love to include yours.
New Hampshire is one of several designated refugee-receiving states. Many of its schools have been experiencing challenges in adjustment for refugees, immigrants and American children that involve a multitude of cultural diversity issues. These require sensitive and thoughtful examination about closely-held values and perspectives. A positive adjustment into American schools and culture and acceptance, respect and preservation for refugee children’s history and cultural background is crucial to refugee children’s social, psychological and academic progress.
Various forums that provide awareness of personal change and growth are foundational for understanding cultural diversity. An holistic approach could address injustice, inequalities, power, oppression, and interdisciplinary examination of historical, political, social, linguistic, educational, philosophical, economic and labor structures.
Creativity and expression through the arts makes us uniquely human; while at the same time can let us discover our commonalities. Assumptions, preconceptions and determinations of another’s view of the world often occur because creative thought and freedom of expression are stifled. Creative arts along with physical activities and living in a residential camp in a wooded setting are familiar and receptive approaches to children that fosters intercultural mutual understanding and respect for diversity.
Putting these theories of expression into practice could transform conflict due to misunderstanding of diversity into mutual respect and community among all peoples. As our societies continue to become more global it is important that our children and we learn how to live respectfully and peacefully together.
With Open Minds has been providing a multicultural camp for schoolchildren that has been a proactive approach to promote a spirit of understanding, build trust and friendships, and reduce prejudice for both children and teachers. It is based on a similar format as many residential environmental and nature-science camps that teach natural science in an interactive, exploratory and interdisciplinary way. Groups involved are culturally diverse school populations, in particular, those with refugee, immigrant and international children enrolled in local schools. Middle and high school students attend for a designated period of time The hope is someday that it will be part of the school's social studies curriculum. All grades could benefit from the experience and program material could be age appropriate according to the grade attending.
The cabin counselors are counselor-facilitators. They participate in an orientation and training prior to camp. During each camp session, they communicate regularly to assist in coexistence dialog sessions and monitor the progress of their groups. They are actively engaged in and have the support, resource and/or assistance of the Core Facilitation Team, which includes the Mediator(s) of the dialog sessions, the Camp Director, the Multicultural Music-Arts Director and the Executive Director of With Open Minds. During everyone’s time at camp non-threatening and non-judgmental approaches to sensitize ourselves are provided. Another future goal is to involve professionals who work with young people to develop their cultural skills along with empathy, respect, and confidence in their leadership and communication and negotiation skills to help ensure peaceful coexistence in classrooms and other places where young people come together..
These aims are carried out through awareness raising activities, group dynamics, community building, human rights education, and conflict resolution and communication skills training. It takes a practice-based approach and integrates theory and practice of human rights and respect. The approach is multi-disciplinary toward cultural awareness and development of respect and value of differences and similarities and attaches equal importance to all cultures.
Teaching respect for human rights and greater understanding among each other has provided the process to put into operation fundamental ways to reverse the cycles of negative, destructive prejudices and conflicts among people based on ethnic origin, religion and life choices/circumstances to values that are more constructive and conduct that leads to improved relationships in our increasingly diverse society. The cultural camp aims to improve individual relationships among children and teach positive social dynamics with groups of mixed cultures. While living together the participants learn intercultural communication, negotiation, conflict resolution skills, teambuilding and leadership. The students have developed a sense of community, confidence in their leadership ability and an appreciation for others that has been carrying over into their school communities.