During one of Project Unify’s after-school meetups recently, a relaxing afternoon of snacks, light conversation, heavy conversation, and laughter made for a very rewarding day. This year’s group has gotten to know each other quite well which means there has been more room for “real” conversations. Several of the members are Muslim and several are atheist. A discussion was sparked after the students who are Muslim brought up their Saturday schools, which are religious based. The students talked about their beliefs, why they believe them, and were able to honestly and respectfully ask each other questions and comment on everyone’s beliefs. No tears were shed, no glares given. I was so proud of them.
The next topic that came up was bullying. One of the students, E., we’ll say, began venting about a student who has been singling E. out in class, poking fun at him. We had a discussion about how teachers sometimes don’t do a whole lot to combat bullying, and we tried brainstorming ways to deal with the problem in other ways. Confronting the other student, ignoring the behavior, and a couple other ideas were mentioned. While no final or “best” strategy was chosen, I believe just letting the student vent and be heard was the most important aspect of the conversation. In my opinion students know what’s best for them more than anyone else; they sometimes just need a listening ear in a non-judgmental atmosphere, which is what we try to provide!
submitted by Seth Rauman