‘Tis the season for peace, love and understanding. And what better place to learn more about “understanding” than at The Museum of Tolerance New York.
While you may have come to New York City to wander around and check out the seasonal decorations and beautiful holiday store windows, it’s more than worth your time (and good for your conscience) to visit the museum and take some of the challenges posed within—which include confronting bigotry and racism.
Interactive workshops, videos and exhibits allow children and adults to explore issues of diversity, tolerance, prejudice, tolerance and cooperation in our communities. They also teach about the Holocaust from a historical and present-day context.
The 7/11 Game
Our tour through the museum was led by a trained docent named Mabel. She had the children play a game called “7/11.” It teaches about a theory that people make 11 assumptions about you in the first seven seconds of meeting you.
Mabel asked them to make assumptions about her out loud—and she made sure to let us know she’d, “heard it all.” Eye opening for all as they learned what it meant to “pre-judge.” (Which yes, Mabel pointed out, sounds an awful lot like prejudice.)
Learning about the meaning of stereotype, they watched a short film depicting real-life examples the children could relate to. A “hate barometer” was used to learn about hate—from hate incidents to hate-mongering, to hate crimes. They tried to determine whether examples of propaganda and de-humanization were old or recent—and in some cases, were shocked to learn which were which.
School and youth groups of 20 or more can make advance reservations to take specialized tours. The museum invites them to “engage in the present, and assume responsibility for the future.”
Cyber-bullying was on the menu at the museum’s POV (Point of View) Diner. The room is designed to look like a diner in hopes participants will be encouraged to feel comfortable when answering questions there—like you’re out to a meal with friends.
In the diner, a film was shown that addressed cyber-bullying—using social media to bully someone–and following the film, participants had a chance to take a real-time vote on who was and who should have been held responsible, as well as what else could have been done in the situation. We learned that 13 million kids are victims of cyber bullying each year.
In the spirit of further tolerance and understanding, in addition to the Museum of Tolerance, you can head downtown to see One World Trade Center–the new Freedom Tower (now America’s highest building) and visit the 9/11 Memorial, where it’s impossible not to walk away brimming with compassion and kindness.
This holiday season, according to the 9/11 Memorial website, “In an effort to revive this spirit and to honor the 2,983 victims of the attacks on September 11,2001 and February 26, 1993, the Memorial staff will perform acts of compassion gratitude and service.” The goal: to complete at least 2,983 acts in tribute to those killed in the attacks.
With that in mind, the #Tribute2983 Campaign has been established inviting “anyone to join in.” There are ideas offered up on the site to get started that include:
— Thanking a first responder
— Donating blood
— Inviting someone over for the holidays
— Buying coffee for a stranger
— Complimenting someone
— Calling a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while
Children are encouraged to talk about what they learn and see—in hopes those conversations lead them to take responsibility and action. A true gift in this holiday season.