We live in an ever-expanding diverse culture, ethnically and racially, yet we are still facing the most difficult challenges of “tolerance and diversity” in the United States. As a psychotherapist, counselor, and social worker with experience teaching in the New York City private and public school systems, I have come to realize that most teens have never had the opportunity to engage in interfaith or intercultural dialogue in a safe and nurturing setting while growing up in America.
I strongly believe New York City needs educational programs that will teach our children how to interact and coexist with each other. With the cultural diversity prevalent, I have witnessed the stereotypical differences and misunderstandings that continue to plague our students and contribute to their fears. I made up my mind to develop a structural program designed to foster tolerance, allay fears, and promote hope. In the summer of 2007, I launched a summer youth educational program for young people ages 13 to 18 who live in the five boroughs of NYC. This program requires our adolescents to feel, see, think, talk, share and experience life in a multi-cultural context. Currently the program only includes 16-21 year olds.
I created a safe and supportive environment that encourages interfaith dialogue amongst everyone. The students learn to promote their own culture and to accept other cultures, not as self-centered individuals, but as responsible members of their own diverse community. The results have been far beyond my expectations. The students learned to respect and enjoy each other's experiences. They developed more self confidence and have become more motivated to eliminate cultural boundaries. Their prospects for the future have grown exponentially.
Working with youths has been my passion and commitment. I enjoy getting to know them and encouraging them all to live up to their full potential. While they are young, they have the possibility to learn to live in harmony and be enriched by others with whom they have more in common than they imagined. I hope they continue to take these new findings and apply them throughout their lives.
ALL human beings are born FREE and EQUAL in dignity and rights.
-Universal Declaration of Human Rights