SPECIAL TO THE CHALDEAN NEWS
This past month, I had the opportunity to participate on the panel for the Walled Lake High School Teen Forum. At the forum, more than 100 students from all three high schools were able to discuss their most compelling questions and concerns about the roles race, culture, and religion play in our community. We touched on a variety of topics from interracial dating to gun control and school safety.
My favorite part of the Teen Forum was being able to recognize the intelligence and strong work ethic deeply rooted within the Chaldean Community. First-generation Chaldean-Americans are seizing the opportunity our parents and grandparents worked so hard to make for us. We are able to become successful in any field we step into because of our strong faith, strong minds, and unwavering ambition – for that I am proud to call myself Chaldean.
Throughout my four years at Walled Lake Central, as a Chaldean student, I have always felt a sense of community and respect from the majority of my teachers and peers. We are all held to the same standards. It is not our race, religion, or culture that determines our status in school, but our thoughts, words, and actions.
I know that in the past, not everyone has been as fortunate. I know that even today, there still exists prejudices and hatred for specific ethnicities. I know that some people may never change. But, that does not mean the fight is lost. It is moments like this forum, and students like those who were in attendance, that will continue to transform schools and the rest of the community into places of equality and respect.
If we are to maintain and strengthen the respect between different ethnicities, we must continue to forge the conversations between each group. As students, we are willing to learn more about our peers’ backgrounds, but there is no easy way to start the conversation. No one wants to come off as negative or insulting when talking about something as sensitive and valuable as a person’s identity.
Having opportunities similar to the Teen Forum creates a more appropriate setting to speak about our cultural similarities or differences with others. By continuing the discussion of culture, race, and religion in a proper manner, students of all backgrounds will be able to open their minds and become more loving and respectful of their peers no matter how different they may seem.
On behalf of my school, thank you to all of the individuals who made this valuable event possible. And, thank you to the Chaldean News for being a part of the change and growth in our community.