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Hele's School

Hele's School

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RS Video Conference

The topic of the video conference was ‘Responding to Hate’

On Tuesday 24th April the Hele’s RS department were asked to take part in a one-off Generation Global video conference welcoming Dave Fortier, survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, the founder and CEO of One World Strong to the discussion with students. The topic of the video conference was ‘Responding to Hate’ and students from Hele’s hooked up with students from Cranford Community College, Hounslow and Harlem Renaissance High School in New York.

The video conference began with Dave sharing his experience of the bombing at the end of the Boston marathon in 2013 and how this led him, and other survivors, to set up their charity ‘One World Strong’. Students were then able to ask Dave any question they wanted. These questions explored the emotional as well as physical trauma people suffer after terrorist attacks, how Dave keeps himself focused and balanced doing this sort of work, how organisations can work to prevent extremism as well as deal with the fallout from terrorist attacks, whether this has changed his views of issues such as gun ownership and whether terrorists deserve our condemnation or pity. In his responses, Dave stressed the importance of support networks, the power of narratives (especially as an antidote to extremist narratives and objectives), and he challenged the binary options of pity or condemnation, explaining he felt it was a more complex matter.

Students went on to share their own experiences of hate in their communities. We heard about the recent ‘Punish A Muslim Day’; a hateful online campaign, how one student had his mother attacked for being Muslim, about minority groups being ‘second checked’, and finding it hard to secure employment.

Towards the end of the conference students explored together the tensions between free speech and hate speech and the responsibilities of the media to report good stories as well as the negative.

Any students who wish to take part in future video conferences should speak to Mrs Skingle, Head of RS. If you would like further information on the work of One World Strong please see their website