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Director / Editor: Victor Teboul, Ph.D.
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Students of different backgrounds unified by Tolerance Trip

By
Ph.D., London School of Economics and Political Science, Member of Tolerance.ca®
Neil Caplan is the Coordinator of the Humanities Department and Co-coordinator of the Jewish Studies Program at Vanier College in Montreal, Canada.
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Credit : Ahmet Jan HAFIZ*

At the start of the autumn 2003 semester, teachers in Vanier College's Jewish Studies program began planning a trip to New York City and Washington DC with the aim of creating a leisurely but stimulating learning experience during spring break, 2004. Collaborating with various departments and groups within Vanier's strongly multicultural community, the trip planners, led by Professors Jack Hirschberg and Matthieu Sossoyan of the Psychology and Anthropology departments, respectively, created an itinerary that took a busload of students and educators to important historic, cultural and religious sites where everyone was encouraged to reflect upon tolerance -- and upon the social, political, and cultural causes of racism, ethnocentrism and intolerance.

The evening debriefing sessions that followed each day's tours, meetings and briefings gave all participants a chance to air their feelings, fears and concerns. Trip planners were greatly encouraged as they witnessed these young people bonding as a group and drawing their own conclusions about the state of the world. As a result of what they saw and heard, students expressed a determination to devote themselves to promoting tolerance, along with a surprising optimism about their ability, even as ordinary individuals, to work for the kinds of changes they believe are needed to make the world a better place.

Credit: Henry Zhang**
While creating lifelong pleasant memories of making new friends, travel, discovery and self-discovery, Vanier's 2004 "Trip for Tolerance" enlightened students on the crucial importance of tolerance and left them with a sense of empowerment to begin achieving it. Another trip is being planned for March 2005.

We are pleased that the webzine Tolerance.ca® has agreed to be associated with our project by publishing the texts submitted by three of the student participants: "We shared a common goal," by Kristina Lall and Melanie Yeh and "Anger is not the answer," by Allan Yancovitch.



* Trip leader Matthieu Sossoyan with students on the steps of the New York Public Library.

** Vanier students ride the New York subway.

Matthieu Sossoyan also contributed to this article.


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