Stories That Move: Students Get Parents to Think
By Trinabh Banerjee and Zözi Lencz
One cloudy Thursday afternoon parents sat around a table in a school canteen, chatting. “Why are we here?” many of them quietly thought. Yet just over an hour later, they would leave with new insight into the social problems of racism and discrimination that plague our world. They would leave aware of the new educational opportunities for teaching children, the future, about these problems in an insightful and meaningful manner.
So how did we get to this point? Our names are Trinabh Banerjee and Zozi Lencz and we are grade 10 students from the International School of Amsterdam (ISA). Together with two fellow students, Leilani Hancock and Rania Khan, we have been involved with an online educational project called Stories That Move*, starting with testing the early stages of the toolbox in 8th grade. After attending the official launch in Berlin in 2018, we set up our own service club at ISA, hosting numerous activities, including the parent workshop introduced above
The Stories that Move toolbox aims to present racism and discrimination through the eyes of individuals who have faced it. Through their experiences, told in film clips, students follow five “learning paths” that examine racism, bias and discrimination in a critical but engaging manner. Students listen to touching “stories” of discrimination, threats against beliefs and basic human rights, and they are “moved”. The four of us are prime examples of the impact the toolbox can have on individual students. We have stepped up to take action in this sometimes dark world and to spread awareness about these issues, and we are trying to inspire as many people as possible to join us and make this a global movement. And that includes our parents…
The creativity, action and service (CAS) club that we created at our school involves students in Stories that Move as a project, but it also involves them in activities inspired by the project. Our club members, both middle and high schoolers, especially enjoyed participating in visual awareness campaigns. Our “To This Day” exhibition, where we placed large boards in the main foyer of our school during the week of November 9th, in commemoration of the Kristallnacht pogrom during WWII, was well received by the whole community. We also made a creative installation out of glowing tea lights to raise awareness on International Human Rights Day.
Our most ambitious activity thus far was an hour-long Parent Workshop about the toolbox, featuring presentations by club leaders and members. We specifically looked at informing parents about the media choices students are making and the difficult topics of discrimination and bias. And it was a success! The parents who came, a very diverse group, were inspired to create new learning opportunities for their children. The open-discussion format allowed conversation about the issues to flow freely, leading to more honest answers and better understanding of personal biases. And we learned from the parents, too: their thoughts on the rapidly changing world and their insights on the impact of the media.
Afterwards, we were invited to plan a workshop for our entire Parent Teacher Association, more than 100 people, which was a wonderfully positive reaction to our first workshop! We look forward to a bright future showcasing the power of student voices and their ability to create change.
This online toolbox, which was originally aimed at teenagers, is now gaining interest from enthusiastic parents keen to reflect on prejudices and discrimination and help provide this learning opportunity to their children.
Heartened by these positive developments, we look forward to continuing to spread the word about Stories that Move.
*Stories that Move is an international project in seven languages, initiated by the Anne Frank House and eight partner organisations, including the International School of Amsterdam.