On the 17th of January, Shaker Forum, a club at Shaker High School, was invited to participate in the STOP conference, along with twenty one other schools. This annual conference at Siena College is “an extension of the college’s Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King Lecture series on non-violence” (http://newyork.adl.org/news/students-together-opposing-prejudice-stop-conference-2014/). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which was established in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” according to the ADL Facebook page, organized the conference for high school students. The conference is meant to educate students about how to fight a multitude of prejudices.
To begin with, we were introduced to the general theme of the conference: respect. Then, we participated in break out sessions in which we were assigned an identity different from our own. There were many unique identities: alcoholic, impoverished family, transgender, homosexual parents, etc. Then, we answered some questions on how our lives would be different with these new identities. We discussed these answers in groups, and the activities taught us to respect people from many different backgrounds.
The STOP conference helped us to realize how important it is to respect others, regardless of their different background, race, identity, and much more. I heard one student touchingly say the STOP conference helped her realize “what an ally is.