Building awareness towards African American culture

Published: Feb. 14, 2018 at 4:27 PM CST
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February is Black History Month, and this week hundreds of students and educators around the Fox Valley are engaging in leadership workshops. The idea is to promote awareness and diversity in our community.

The African Heritage Emerging Student Leaders Institute (AHESLI) has one main goal.

“It’s very important to affirm African American culture as it is linked to academic success and life success so to honor your culture, let it be, represent it in a curriculum and also to increase the awareness to teachers about black culture and how to interact better and teach black students better,” said Sabrina Robins, the co-chair of AHESLI.

Hundreds of participants taking part in the two-day workshop program use history as a tool for the future.

“I think that it's a wonderful experience just because as we live in the fox valley, it's not a generally diverse area, so to come into a room with hundreds of students that look just like me and being told that it's a great experience to be you, you matter, that you are accepted and that you can succeed, it's very empowering,” said Ndemazea Fonkem, a sophomore at Appleton North High School.

The event is also a chance for educators to learn and understand what it takes to run a diverse classroom.

“We need to be culturally, linguistically responsible for all our students so when we talk about tomorrow night, Thursday we will have over 200 teachers administrators, school board members, who are going to be engaged and learning about what our black and African American students need to feel validated and affirmed and what they need to know to be successful,” said Ben Vogul, assistant superintendent for the Appleton Area School District.