Students Tear Down “Wall of Tolerance” in Support of International Day of Tolerance

This is the first year for both the Combating Intolerance class and the celebration of the International Day of Tolerance.

Students+Tear+Down+%22Wall+of+Tolerance%22+in+Support+of+International+Day+of+Tolerance

On Nov. 17, West Potomac’s Combating Intolerance class hosted a large-scale event to celebrate International Day of Tolerance during all lunches. This tribute included a range of activities that were planned to promote tolerance while also eliminating intolerance in the community.

The primary activity involved tearing down a “Wall of Tolerance” brick by brick. The wall’s “bricks” were made of rectangular pieces of paper that had acts of intolerance written on them by students from different classes.  Students were asked to come up during lunch to tear off a brick from the alleged wall. Many students that participated in this activity specifically chose certain bricks to tear down.

“I looked for the ones that stood out for being really ridiculous,” explains senior Sofi Portillo. “The brick I chose said that someone got bullied for wearing animal T-shirts and that really stood out to me.”

This activity opened the eyes of many people by helping them realize how serious the intolerance problems can be in the community.

“I knew that people were getting bullied but I had no idea that it was this bad,” says Portillo.

Senior Jessica Villatoro had also participated in tearing down the wall, and specifically chose the brick she had torn down.

“[The brick] said a girl got bullied because she wore a headscarf. I picked this one because it seemed to be a problem for a lot of people–that other people say something just because of what people wear on their head,” Villatoro elaborates.

Students tear down bricks with different situations of intolerance written on them. The goal was to bring the whole wall down.
Courtesy WP CombatIntolerance via Twitter
Students tear down bricks with different situations of intolerance written on them. The goal was to bring the whole wall down.

The Combating Intolerance class prepared other activities that students could do in order to further eradicate intolerance in the community. These activities included a questionnaire that required students to meet new people and a trivia handout. Upon completion of any of the activities, participating students received candy as a prize.

“I completed the trivia handout and it was very informational and educational,” says senior Mezmure Tesfaye.

In order to prepare for such activities, the class had to come up with unique ideas that would motivate students to participate.

“We came up with ideas, planned a lot, made flyers, bought candy and asked the school to participate while also spending time putting together the walls,” describes junior Rachael Brautigam, a Combating Intolerance student.

The efforts of the Combating Intolerance class have brought about change as more people are now aware of the social prejudices that exist within the community.
“[The activities] have helped raise awareness for bullying throughout the school. It’s a positive thing,” says Portillo.