The STAMP conference last month at the History Colorado Center was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience. STAMP stands for Students Taking Action and Making Progress. One of the numerous eye-opening classes that we participated in was X’ed Out To X-Men. During this class, we learned about how to make schools more accessible for people who have physical or mental limitations. This class expanded our horizons regarding the architecture of schools and made us realize that there are variables that we often don't take into account when we consider the construction of schools, such as ramps and elevators. In addition, it helped us realize the importance of spaces where students can be provided with more one on one assistance. Finally, they encouraged us to raise awareness in our schools to benefit people with physical or mental differences.
Another enjoyable part of the STAMP conference was the presence of diversity in many forms. STAMP also provided many students with a place they felt accepted and included. With the atmosphere STAMP created, students felt comfortable and told their stories. Furthermore, the diversity of the students and schools helped you see from multiple perspectives and allowed you to become a more understanding and accepting individual. STAMP also helped you create connections with people who have very different lives than yours and overall helped you create relationships with more students from who you can learn. We believe that being in diverse environments helps cultivate a curiosity in people's backgrounds and stories.
When we first arrived, a famous cartoonist/writer/public speaker from New York named Vishavjit Singh, pushed us on what our initial impressions on his identity were when we saw him. Many in the audience said that he was Muslim, from the Middle East, and skinny. He proceeded to show us his birth certificate, which contradicted our assumptions. On his birth certificate, the hospital marked him as Caucasian, even though he was born in New York to South Asian parents. He went on to communicate to us to not make assumptions about someone's identity, culture, or socioeconomic status based upon what you see. He instead encouraged us to refrain from making assumptions until you know a person’s story and background. He tried to spread cultural awareness through comics and art to help people be more accepting of others. One example of this was when he showed us a comic he created of the Incredibles, but the only thing different was that they were Muslim.
Our main takeaways for this conference (and also learning experience) were to reflect upon our own identities, other identities, be culturally sensitive, and lastly, to implement the lessons we learned in our communities.