by Hayley Golden
To better combat problems surrounding cultural unawareness, the I.D.E.A.S. Club (Increasing Diversity and Equality Among Students) aims to teach students about other ethnicities and cultures through stimulating conversations and innovative activities.
“We try to do things that will educate the student body about being more inclusive,” theology teacher Ms. Kathy Janata, moderator of the club, said.
The club meets twice a month and talks about the celebration of diversity and problems surrounding stereotypes.
In addition, the club gives students a chance to take a moment and think about the inequalities taking place in the world today, while also looking for solutions to these issues.
“We try to pay attention to current events that cause separation between people, and help people understand and look for solutions,” Janata said.
Throughout the year, the club organizes various events and activities to further cultivate the minds of Marian students. “We do a couple coffee talks where people are invited in the morning, and we talk about current events, and a diversity day, where we come together and let people evaluate their prejudices and stereotypes,” Janata said.
In addition to these, the club volunteers at Nelson Mandela Elementary School, and is hoping to volunteer at Sts. Peter and Paul school, where former Spanish teacher Mr. Andrew Bauer is now the principal.
In past years, the club has organized events that the whole student body could get involved in. One event in particular helped the girls visualize the adversities that their peers face.
During their theology blocks, the girls stood in a straight line in the West gym for an activity called “The Privilege Walk.” The I.D.E.A.S. club members then read statements about difficulties and privileges.
If the girl had faced the hardship, she would take a step back; if she didn’t, she would stay still.
The concept was the same for privileges, except instead of stepping back, the student with the privilege would step forward.
For example, “If your parents attended college take one step forward, or “If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.”
At the end of the event, it was easy to visualize the different privileges and adversities that classmates encounter. Activities like this one help Marian students start talking about the hardships that still take place in our community.
The I.D.E.A.S. club is open to anyone. The ultimate goal of the club is to provide a sense of openness and acceptance to anyone that wants to join, in addition to educating the students.
“Our goal is to make sure all people feel included and educated, and to provide experience for people to become more culturally aware,” Janata said.
Janata also mentioned that it’s important for all girls at Marian to feel welcome. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they have to leave who they are at the door,” Janata said.
Overall, the club strives to inspire girls to look at the world and its people with respect.