On Tuesday, April 10, several Sinclair student clubs including the Choral Music Association (CMA), Communications Club and Brite Signal Alliance teamed up with the Diversity Office to present an event focusing on inclusion and honest dialogue called Stronger Together.
The event started with the President of CMA, Zane Pergram, speaking to the audience of roughly 150 Sinclair community members.
Pergram encouraged the audience to think about the preconceived notions they may hold, and to throw it out the window for the event. He stressed that Stronger Together was a place for students to grow and get out of their comfort zones.
Following this, Pergram told the audience about the event that spawned this movement of positivity across Sinclair.
In building 2 this past fall semester, a Clarion paper was found heavily vandalized against a race of people. This racist act fueled the CMA to team up with other students across campus to create a group and find a way to respond to and combat these acts of negativity at Sinclair.
Next, Professor of Music/Choral & Vocal and Advisor to CMA, Nolan Long, addressed the participants.
“We decided that we wanted to do something positive,” Long informed the crowd, “doing good serves as a positive spark to help our future well being.”
Whether it was smiling at a stranger in passing or making eye contact during conversation, Professor Long challenged the attendees to go to the “next level.” He stated that these kind of quality people are what make the world go round.
Throughout the event, Sinclair’s various choral groups sang pieces connected to the theme of unity and diversity, including “Ndikhokele Bawo (Keep Me Safe),” “Even When He is Silent” and “If Music be the Food of Love.”.
Following this was guest speaker Renate Frydman, a Holocaust survivor who has been involved with Sinclair since 1986. She is also the director of the Dayton Holocaust Resource Center.
She spoke about her journey and experiences, including immigrating from Nazi Germany at a young age, and going to school in America, where she was discriminated against.
Even though Frydman had to leave her native country at a young age, she did not let that get her down. When she started school in America and was bullied for looking different, she did not give up on people. Rather, she decided to do something about it, and help people in situations similar to her own.
“…After being called names and being chased home from school frequently, somewhere inside of myself I decided that if I was gonna be called names for being Jewish or being a Jew, I was gonna be the best Jew I could be,” Frydman said.
She closed her part of the program by telling those in attendance how much of a great opportunity they had to become closer to others and encouraged others to come in every day with love on their minds, and not hate.
Then, sociology professor Amaha Sellassie commenced the group discussion. He kicked off discussions by bringing up the major struggle of finding the balance between equality and diversity.
“We all have different talents and abilities, and it’s not about how we minimize our differences to make us equal, but it’s about how do we acknowledge our difference, and still acknowledge our common humanity,” Selassie said.
Several tables full of a mix of students, faculty and staff of all ages and races, spoke on a variety of topics.
These topics included what diversity means, the impact of music and how it can bring people together, what Sinclair does well and needs to work on regarding inclusion, how campus community members can make a difference on a local level and in the world and wherever else the discussions went.
“Music is stronger together, just like people,” Sellassie said in a group discussion. Without many voices adding their talent, it wouldn’t have sounded as powerful. This is a reflection of course on the community, the more opinions and ideas that come together, the more powerful the outcome.
The day’s festivities ended with a final performance by Sinclair’s choir, and attendees went on their way, mingling and reflecting on the experience with friends old and new.
Long later reflected on his thoughts about the event: “The mood in the room was one of warmth, positive electricity, and uplifting. Students encountered new friends, and actually talked with others, rather than trying to discover kinship with an electronic device.”
One thing that may stick with those that attended were the words of Renate Frydman that sums up the message of the entire event: “Disliking someone only hurts you.”