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CARE: Helping to Heal the World

CARE: Helping to Heal the World

Heal the world
make it a better place
for you and for me
and the entire human race
there are people dying
if you care enough
for the living
make a better place
for you and for me
- Michael Jackson

When I go to potlucks my plates come back empty, but home cooked Lebanese dishes have not always been popular.

Grade two was probably the worst for me. I remember dreading lunch hour because I knew that Mom didn’t pack me a fluffy white bread ham and cheese sandwich. Kids would peer over my desk with disgust at whatever delicious Lebanese recipe my mom had packed for me. I would try to take a few nibbles before throwing it out, but most of the time I would just throw out the bag in its entirety so I didn’t have to hear the comments.

Let’s face it. School as a social setting can be pretty rough, especially for the kids who are struggling to come to terms with the very different social and cultural contexts of their surroundings. However, cultural inclusion is more visible in schools now than it was in my early years of elementary. As we know, more and more international families are arriving in Canada, and teaching acceptance is not enough. It is our responsibility as teachers, parents and community members to ensure that schools are not only embracing students for who they are, but also celebrating their differences.

In the spirit of Michael Jackson’s song “Heal the World,” the Cultural Awareness Relationship Education workshop, or CARE, is itself a form of bettering the world we live in. The national Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 hosted its second annual CARE workshop in March 2014, and as an alternative education intern, I was looking forward to being a part of this experience. The day’s events were well-organized and the people facilitating the workshop could really focus on the voices of the children.

Lebanese tree

The students were enthusiastic to share their ideas about how we can help eliminate ethnic-based violence and bullying. The workshop offered several stations for students to take part in, including Challenging Perceptions, Challenging Culture Shock and Challenging Yourself. The station that I facilitated is called Challenging Labels. The students were asked to create a piece of art to wear as a button. They were encouraged to represent what makes them unique or what they are most proud of­ or maybe to show a part of their identity that they tossed aside and want to reclaim.

I created my own button as an example for the students to keep in mind while brainstorming. I knew exactly what I wanted to illustrate. It is central to my identity; a part of who I am and who I have always been, but a part I had previously tossed aside. I drew the Lebanese flag (with my very limited artistic abilities) and made sure to explain its significance in the world of ethnic-based bullying. That day, about a handful of students approached me to tell me that they too are proud of their Lebanese roots.

CARE was the perfect way to begin my internship here at the Museum. The other interns and I enjoyed taking part in an event with such an important message, and we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to play an active role in finding solutions to eliminate ethnic-based violence and bullying.

“I can be the solution by challenging xenophobia.” – Jasmine Chater
“I can be the solution by not being a bystander.” – Laura De Palma

“I can be the solution by sharing my culture with others.” – Kent Fraser