Mosaic Institute [Next Gen] Global Citizenship Project (East Asia Focus) Day 3:Understanding Prejudice and Discrimination

We’re halfway through the Next Generation project with only 2 more sessions left until the project comes to a close.

The morning began with an opening plenary with the always lovely Jen Sungshine. Many students appreciated Jen’s candid and personal approach to sharing experiences she’s had and the work she does as a POC with the LGBTQA+ community.


Schedule for the day

This morning session’s focus was on debunking prejudice & discrimination, two extremely powerful and loaded terms. Doing the best that we could given the short time period, we dove right in, beginning with a ‘dots’ icebreakers involving stickers and having students organize themselves. I’m not going to completely explain the activity so as to not give it away, but the teachable moment that came out of this icebreaker was a discussion around grouping, stereotypes, and how we make assumptions about groups of people based on our understanding of them.

community building exercise– inner circle: what qualities students need for safe space; outer circle: what qualities students can offer to build a safe space

In this day and age, I’m often quite pleasantly surprised by the range in vocabulary that students have and are comfortable using, when it comes to social issues and progressive ideas. I certainly was not equipped or exposed to words like ‘person of colour’ or ‘oppression’ when I was their age, let alone comfortable enough to speak to these topics in conversation. In groups, students worked together to brainstorm examples and definitions of these loaded terms (with the premise of using language that even their 10 year old sibling might understand).


Some examples:


Working within the framework of the Staircase of Oppression, we were able to have a healthy discussion around these terms. The model is quite complex, so even just a peripheral explanation of the terms is worth a look!

Even for myself, it can be difficult to express the varying differences between stereotypes, discrimination, prejudice, and so forth, so it was great to have a starting off point of conversation based on students’ existing knowledge before supplementing further definitions.

Students then had an opportunity to create a tableau/ skit of an example that expressed their assigned term. We had everything from Donald Trump’s systemic discrimination, to gay marriage, to gendered differences.

You can see why our workshop ran a little overtime!

The second half of workshops after lunch (sushi!) was entitled ‘Fresh off the Boat: Representations of Immigrants in the Media’. A highly popular elective workshop it seems as there were 37 students in our tiny space!IMG_9701.JPG

Playing off of our earlier themes around stereotypes with a game of Move your Butt, students had an opportunity to do their own media analysis work focused on the representations of immigrants in their short clips. Particularly, the students focused on the way that the immigrant characters were portrayed physically (what they wore, how they spoke) and socially (personality traits, how others spoke of them, how they interacted with others).


Big thanks to Mr. Autumn Lum for helping secure the iPad cart so students could access clips online. Options included: Fresh off the Boat, Big Bang Theory, Super Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver, Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall. Students did a character sketch analysis where they drew out a specific character or  a scene and labeled critical points of attention. For example, the specific kinds of clothes an individual wore, the words used to describe them in conversation, and so forth. Pretty creative stuff and rich dialogue when we came to the Donald Trump part!


The classic ‘stinky lunch box’ scene from Fresh off the Boat 



In light of the recent US election, was curious to see what rhetoric had permeated the students’ understanding of US politics and Trump. Particularly cool to see these different interpretations!  


So again, no surprise that we completely ran out of time and just barely scratched the surface in terms of critical media consumption. Like any of the workshops, would love to re-do them with more time and follow up for more meaningful future engagement, but a girl can dream…


Signing off for now,


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