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NYC high school students create winning video about appreciating diversity

LatinaLista — It’s often heard these days that there is too much hate speech in the country; too much intolerance. Unfortunately, most of the young people in this nation are on the frontline of this unrest. Public schools are one of the few places where people of different religions, ethnicities, races, disabilities and sexual orientations are thrown together into one physical place on a daily basis and expected to get along.

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It can either be viewed as an opportunity or an annoyance by young people. One group of high schoolers, from Flushing International High School in Queens, New York City, choose to view diversity as an opportunity.

The winning student filmmakers celebrate the success of their video “Role Call.”

As a result, they won First Place in the national film contest, I Am This Land, sponsored by the human rights organization Breakthrough.

The contest challenged young people across the country to make a video on diversity using the words, “I Am This Land.”

The contest was Breakthrough’s response to the divisive rhetoric of the past year, and sought to give young people the opportunity to celebrate diversity and recommit to building a society that respects human rights and values dignity, equality and justice.

The Flushing International High School students came up with an imaginative way to illustrate embracing diversity in all its forms and the possibilities that exist for everyone.

Their film “Role Call” was about a young student in class who, through daydreams, explores gender, cultural expression, and racial stereotypes.

“The video was created in response to several incidents of violence in our school, and our desire to use media to promote respect and tolerance in our school and beyond,” said teacher Dillon Paul. “Our students come from approximately 40 different countries and speak 20 different languages. Like most high schools, however, cultural differences, sexual and gender identity can be sources of discomfort and fear, leading to bigotry, bullying and violence.”

From Jean Franco Vergaray Franco (a student, and Lead Director and Editor on the film), “That we could portray one person being all these different personalities, all these different identities, was just a way to say, diversity is okay. People shouldn’t be labeled.”


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