Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mix it up Day - USA

It was Mix It up day in the States yesterday an attempt to break down divisions between racial and social groups, including subcultural ones. It is a long standing idea in the States starting in 2002. Now more than 10,000 schools are involved.

ABC News 4 Charleston - Mixing Up Racial And Social Divides At Hanahan Middle School
Tuesday November 13, 2007 5:40pm Reporter: Renee Williams

Hanahan, S. Carolina - Hanahan Middle School participates in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a national social experiment aimed at teaching students tolerance.

Think back, way back to your middle school lunch time. You’re sitting with the same friends, day in and day out and being a part of your group. Now imagine this- taking all of that and turning it upside down.

“Students are going to come in. They're going to take the initiative to sit with someone they don't know well,” Elizabeth Scarbrough says.

She’s the one who organized the school’s Mix it Up at Lunch Day. In other words, they’re mixing it up and changing who they talk to everyday. The students are also making new friends while breaking up old cliques.

“Some kids are left out they don't have many friends and then you have some groups who are friends with everybody,” eighth grader Nick Zerbst says.

Mix it Up at Lunch aims to break the harsh social divide of middle school.
The experiment tries to melt the jocks with the goths and the popular kids.
It’s not always easy to just strike up a conversation with someone you don't know. To help break the ice, the kids came up with questions to ask each other like do you like Clemson or Carolina or do you play sports? Even with the ice breakers the nerves are obvious.

“People are trying to be popular. People feel left out they can't really make friends because they're all shy,” adds eighth grader Kenneth Spear.

Whether they’re shy or not, more than 200 students pledged to give it a try. “Here's the 6th grade doing it. It’s really working well. Maybe someone in a higher social status can bring them up,” Zerbst says.

Middle school kids typically divide themselves along gender, racial and economic lines. They learn those divides early on. So these kids are pledging and promising to cross age old boundaries, if only for one day. “These prejudices and these cliques actually start to form at age three to its very important that we catch them at the middle school age,” adds Scarbrough. Millions take part in fourth annual Mix It UpDecember 2005

Fourth- and 5th-graders in Sweetwater, Texas, embrace the spirit of Mix It Up.
(Bruno at Holly Kuper Photography)
SWEETWATER, Texas -- When 350 intermediate students Mixed It Up here, spirits rose as high as their red, white and blue helium balloons

"That's what I love about 4th- and 5th-graders," said school counselor and Mix It Up at Lunch Day facilitator Melissa Howard. "They are still so into everything."

In 2005, the number of participants also rose -- dramatically. Across the nation on November 15, and estimated four million students at 9,000 schools took part in the fourth annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day. That's a 50 percent increase from 2004, when 4 million students took part nationwide.

Mix It Up, part of the Center's Teaching Tolerance program, asks students to swap seats in the school cafeteria -- one of the most self-segregating settings in the nation. Football players sit with football players; cheerleaders, with cheerleaders. Band members at the table in the corner; Goths at one table; Spanish-speaking students at another.

Consider how a high school senior from Phoenix described her school cafeteria on this year's Mix It Up at Lunch Day: "That section over there is where the jocks usually sit, and this part by the benches is where the skaters are, and then the gangs are all along the walls."

A 9th-grader from Oregon took part in a discussion about school cliques on Mix It Up at Lunch Day and came away with a deeper understanding.

"I learned they (various school cliques) don't really talk to each other," she said. "It's important to get groups to mingle. In the real world, you have to mingle whether you want to or not."

On Mix It Up Day, clearly, some do not. In Philadelphia, one high school student called it "annoying." In Florida, one student called it "childish," labeling participants "losers."

"The resistance is a clear sign of why the program is so important," said Tafeni English, director of the Mix It Up program. "Mix It Up is about social boundaries, and those boundaries don't dissolve in a single day or a single moment. But every time we get some students talking and thinking about the boundaries, we're taking steps in the right direction."...
POEM: Vegetable Soup
April 19, 2006 -- Two students at King George High School in Virginia write about the various social cliques in their school.

by Katie Newton and Laura McKinnon

King George High School is full of cliques

"The Wall," the Goths and the hot chicks.

It's hard enough to be a teen

Without having to deal with these kids - they're mean!

First of all, you've got "The Wall"

A sea of darkness, always having a ball.

Getting their kicks from picking on us

They laugh and they point, and they even cuss.

I know the teachers aren't hearing impaired

But they won't say anything 'cause they're too scared.

The Goths are the next crowd; they stay to themselves

Some dress like vampires, and some like dark elves.

They hate their lives, and the world, and us,

They won't be happy until their wounds seep pus.

The hot chicks are last because they're the worst

If you're not skinny and blonde consider yourself cursed.

Malibu Barbies with their fake tans

Always succeeding in stealing our "mans."

I want to break free

And then there are ones like me.

I have a friend in every group,

Like a giant pot of vegetable soup.

Carrots, peas and noodles, too,

I like being vegetable soup.

What kind of soup are you?

Some interesting comments from kids involved in the past. Lots more here:

Don't hate what you don't understand

Every one knows how the "goths" and the "preps" have hated each other for so many years now. I am considered a goth at my school, but I have friends from virtually every clique. I hate how people think if you are a certain way, you have to be friends with just that group! I dislike how the jocks make fun of my friends and how they torment us because we have an opinion. Most people think "goths" are suicidal, and that they worship Satan. Satanists worship Satan not "goths." I judge people but it's because when they hang out with others they become like that friend. I just hate how everyone hates "goths." Just because we are different doesn't mean you have to hate us. A great man once said "To be great is to be misunderstood" (Ralph Waldo Emerson) just as being different is to be great!

Another way to Mix It Up
It is true there are many cliques at our school, like the so-called 'gangster table' or the 'nerd table', but our lunch is only 25 minutes long, so one day would not create friendships. If it were my idea I would have it happen at least one Tuesday a month because once a year really wouldn't cut it, if you think about it. If it was held every Tuesday, then you would be forced to talk to them or exclude yourself, which shouldn't happen by the way. But instead of sitting at a new table every Tuesday, you could sit at the same color table and create friendships with those people, and after like 3 months they switch everyone, something like that.

Mix doesn't work

It was hard, but I did it
Today at my school we had Mix It Up Day. It was very fun because we got to meet new people! Usually, I sit with my best friend, Marilyn. We always sit at the same table. It was very hard to do this but I did it. I am proud that I was brave enough to sit with totally different people whom I didn't know. Thank you for making this day exist!

Being judged sucks
In my school, people judge you by one thing: where you shop and what you wear. It's not, oh, you are so nice, or eh, you're really mean to everyone, or, you annoy me on purpose, it's that you shop here. I for one, shop at Hot Topic, a store that has been deemed rather "Gothic," but yet, has more leather alternatives than places like Wet Seal and Mervyn's, and most of the makeup in there has not been tested on animals. I am a vegetarian, in case you were wondering why I am talking about that sort of thing. People think I'm Gothic just because I shop there.

Most cliques in my school, really aren't defined by a name, it's just certain people. There's the normal people, who are more often than not popular; the freaks, who are just plain rude to everyone; the loser/skaters who made do good in school, but half of them are just, well, rather, odd; there are the skaters, the people that I hang out with some; the preps, the people who will do anything to make themselves look perfect; the potheads, people who do drugs; the sugar junkies, people who are just plain crazy; there's the jocks, who are obsessed with any kind of sport; fashionistas, people who love clothes; and then, there's what I've been defined as, a Gothic. Really though, I am a punk rock enviro skater. These cliques, aren't people I have judged. It's just where they fall in my school according to what they wear and how they act. I wear bondage pants (the big pants that have D-rings and straps on them) and because of that I'm Gothic. If you noticed, I put nothing down on Environmentally Conscious people, that's because I'm really the only one who cares about that in my school. I'm just me, and being judged differently sucks. It sucks hard.

Don't make us do it again
I'm using this little thing to tell you what I think about Mix It Up. I think its a waste of time and is not going to do anything but cause more problems. NO student I have talked to bout this said it was a good idea. There is talk of skipping lunch to avoid having to participate and also talk of deliberate defiance. I am one of the students who will NOT participate. I won't be forced to sit with people I don't like. I don't like people, not because of their differences, but because of their personality. If I was someone who sat by myself at lunch I wouldn't want people to sit with me because they had to, rather because they want to. I know I speak for a good 75% of my school when I say this is lame... don't make us do it again.

Lowest social group
Mix It Up Day was ok for some students, but let me tell you, Mix It Up Day at Lunch did not go so well for me. I tried sitting with the "preppy" kids. But they just made fun of me and told me to go away. It doesn't matter how much you think it's a good thing, when a "goth" sits with a "prep" it doesn't go over very smoothly. It was a success for the older kids to sit with freshman and everything - kids sitting with other kids that aren't really different than them. But this was just... yeah. When the lowest social group sat with the highest at my school, it was not a good lunch.

PeaceJam brings food to Mix

I go to school at Tohatchi High School in New Mexico. I am in 11th grade. My group, PeaceJam, brought food for the people to eat in the classrooms. The students said it was nice to meet different students at our school. We got all the athletes, skaters and Goths to sit with the people they don't know. We had a good time with the students. But some of the students said they were shy because they don't know the students they were sitting by.

Mix was awesome

Mix-it-up-at-lunch day was awesome at my school. We each got a buddy to walk around with, and to hang out with in different groups. It was so fun. Everyone crossed the boundaries of preps, jocks, Goths, geeks, African Americans and those types of things. I met new people and have so many new friends now that I will never forget. I met some awesome people I would never have had the guts to go up to, and hang out with, on a normal day. It makes school such a better atmosphere when you know more people. I learned that all these people are so cool in their own ways and they all have their own types of fun. I hope this day becomes a tradition for my school district. I'll never forget this day! Thanks so much for the great idea!!

Racism and Religious Bigotry
By J.S.

I am a daughter of a United States Marine and because of that I have moved around the country a lot. I have seen and experienced many different things.

I have experienced racism, not from my white classmates, but from my black classmates. I have seen people blamed for things that are not in their control like a Wiccan at my school, who is harassed not only by kids, but in less obvious ways by teachers.

Right now my worst battle is not with anyone I know from school. It's from my mom. She thinks some of my friends are devil-worshippers just because they are goth, and when I told her some of them are actually Christians, she acted surprised!

When I told her that goths are actually some of the most tolerant and peaceful people I know because they don't care what religion, color, sexual orientation you are, she told me to shut up.

How's that for tolerance?

By C.

In my school there aren't many different groups such as freaks, geeks and wannabees, but there are some such as myself, a goth, and preps and the "in betweens" who really don't care. But even though there aren't that many groups there are A LOT of coflicts between us.

For example, when everyone found out I was a goth some preppies wanted to fight me that used to be my friends. I'm the only goth in my school and it's not surprising considering it's unfortunately a Catholic school. The reason that I go there is because I live with my aunt and uncle.

People are getting used to the idea, but I'm still hated by many people but I learn to ignore it!!!!

I'm a Pagan
By M.

I'm a Pagan. I live in a small town in Wisconsin. Everyone in my high school knows I'm pagan. At least the people who know who I am do.

I've gotten a lot of guff for being the religion that I am. I've been called devil worshiper, blair witch, Mrs. Cleo, etc... I've had people walk around me singing hymns from the Bible just to make me angry.

I believe they make fun of me simply because they are afraid of what they believe i stand for. None of them actually took the time or effort to understand what my beliefs were. I can't even count the times I've told the same people that I can't worship the devil when I don't believe he exists.

I try to explain to them what I am, but it just goes in one ear and out the other. All I want is to go to school not having to wonder what new name they're going to come up with, or what new plan they have to try and humiliate me with.

I don't think asking for the ability to go to school without having to defend my religion to everyone I meet is too much to ask, do you? I just want to make some people aware that pagans aren't bad, sure we have some people calling themselves witches who give us a bad name, but if you talk to a pagan -- a true pagan -- you'll find out otherwise. As our creed states "an it harm none, do what thou will." Thank you for reading my story, I hope you come away with a different point of view.

Don't judge lunchmates by their appearance

Everyday is a new experience for me! I used to sit at the same old lunch table day after day, but now it's a whole new change! I sit with a girl I met in named Kiritie, who now I am really close with. It's a Goth table with lots of unique people — very friendly — and I feel happy to sit and make new friends. I always look forward to sitting there. They make me feel at home! It's not all what you look like on the outside, it's what you have on the inside that counts. So don't just judge people and not consider sitting with them just because of the way they look and dress.

More details here at website which organises it.

No comments: