Prejudice is everywhere; even in sports. Fans have been attending soccer matches and spewing antisemitic behavior. Now the Chelesea football club in England will be offering their fans an opportunity to overcome their prejudiced behavior. Instead of having the club confiscate their season tickets for a period of three years, those who have exhibited racist behavior can either accept the three-year ban or participate in educational courses taught at Auschwitz. Roman Abramovich, the part owner of the club, is the primary force behind this initiative. The Chelsea football club will cover the costs of the program since they are set on terminating racist behavior. Abramovich, who is Jewish himself, has already organized two visits to Auschwitz as part of its efforts to combat antisemitism. Fans who choose the option of taking a course at Auschwitz will be invited on future trips. “If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” said Cheslea chairman Bruce Buck, according to The Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.” “In the past, we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. “Now we say ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban, you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong.’”
“Following a proposal raised at our Fan’s Forum, the club is launching an education program for supporters banned for anti-semitic behavior, as well as helping them to understand the impact of their actions, with participation in the course potentially leading to a reduction in the length of their ban,” the club said in a statement.
The initiative has been looked favorably by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects Jews from anti-semitism.
Head of CST policy, Dave Rich, told Huffpost UK: “Giving people the opportunity to change their views and learn, and tackling anti-semitism through education is definitely something to be welcomed.
“If it works, then it’s much better than just banning somebody,” he continued. “If you ban someone from your football stadium they still have their racist views, it’s much better to change them.
“This sets an example of how to tackle anti-semitism, not just for football clubs, but others in society.”
The Say No Anti-Semitism initiative was also launched in March and a delegation from the club attended the March of the Living at Auschwitz.
Two months later, 150 Chelsea fans visited Auschwitz and two Holocaust survivors, Harry Spiro and Mala Tribich, spoke of their experiences.
“Hearing from a survivor, learning about the Holocaust, and understanding what language constitutes hate speech, all contribute to a better understanding and greater awareness of what anti-semitism is and how to combat it,” said Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Through this initiative, the Chelesea football club is making a real commitment in fighting this issue within the games and the wider community,” she added.
The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships that allows awardees the chance to study at Oxford University in England. Only 32 Americans are awarded the scholarship every year, and this time, a fellow Portlander received this award.
JaVaughn T. “JT” Flowers was a student at Lincoln High School. He did not perform well academically and even stayed a fifth year in high school at a boarding school in Connecticut. His efforts payed off, and he went on to study at Yale, founding an organization called A Leg Even to assist low-income Yale students by offering mentoring and tutoring services as well as connections to faculty. During his years at the Ivy League school, he studied in six different countries to examine the various cultures and politics. His thesis investigated Portland’s sanctuary city policy for immigrants undocumented in the United States. His academic excellence also resulted in receiving the Truman scholarship in 2016, which gives gifted students graduate support to help them prepare for government or public service careers.
He currently works for Representative Earl Blumenaur in Portland. “I’m essentially getting paid to learn about all the incredible work going on across all these different silos in Portland,” Flowers said in an interview with The Oregonian.
The competition for the Rhodes Scholarship is intense and involves a difficult, time-consuming application process. Finalists were flown out to Seattle for several events, including standing in front of a seven-judge panel. Rhodes Scholars have their tuition and all expenses covered to study for two or three years at Oxford.
Flowers was floored by the news. “I really don’t know how to attach words to it. I’m really at a loss. I’m so humbled.”
Blumenaur was thrilled by Flowers’ success. In an interview with the Associated Press, he stated, “He’s just an outstanding candidate for the Rhodes. He’s a very quick study, very good wth people, an incisive listener who is able to translate that back to people who contact him and to the staff in our office. We’re excited for him, and we’re excited for what he’s going to do when he’s back.
Flowers plans to earn degrees in Comparative Social Policy and Public Policy in order to give back to his hometown, Portland. “Portland is home for me and will always be home for me. I was born and raised here in the heart of Northeast Portland. I want to set up permanent shop here. I’ll be gone for a couple years, but then I’ll be right back here.”
Local Oregon teacher, cancer survivor, and mother of two, Rachel Harry recently received the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education, which is given in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The award recognizes a K-12 educator who has made a noticeable impact on his or her student’s lives.
Harry, who has taught at Hood River Valley High School for thirty-one years and is also an instructor at the Columbia Gorge Community College, received $10,000 to spend on Hood River’s theater program. She was also awarded a free trip to New York to receive her award at the Tony Awards.
Remarkably, Harry had absolutely no idea she had been nominated for the award. Several of her students, both current and former, collaborated in secret with Hood River teacher, Amirra Malak, to prepare and submit her nomination. They surprised her with her achievement at the high school’s annual Evening of Excellence.
In an interview with CBS, Harry explained her passion for teaching: “I love teenagers. I love everything they’re going through, the drama. They come in as these, basically kids, and they leave as adults.” One student, in her testimony, described Harry as “definitely a mother figure. . . She’s created a second home.” Another student stated that Harry “teaches in a way that we don’t feel like we are being patronized or being talked down to.”
Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper has just gifted $1 million to Chicago’s public schools, where he received his education as a child. The money will benefit the arts and extra-curricular programs of ten elementary and high schools in the area.
Chance stated in a press conference, “I’m honored to make this donation to Chicago Public Schools Foundation and help cultivate Chicago creative minds. I’m committed to helping Chicago’s children have quality learning experiences that include the arts.”
Chicago schools have been dealing with budget issues for years, and spending cuts have disproportionately affected arts programs. Chance has been a strong advocate for improving education standards in Chicago: earlier this month, the artist met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to share his concerns about recent education budget cuts. He has received praise from various members of the community and from such notable figures as Michelle Obama, who described the artist as “an example of the power of arts education.”
Chance desires his gift to be “a call to action,” and hopes that further measures will be taken to reintroduce various after-school and arts activities to Chicago public schools. The artist stated that he will “do all I can to support Chicago’s most valuable resource: its children.”
Two brothers from North Potomac, MD, wanted to help out their lonely classmates and took steps to make the idea into a reality. Ryan and Jack Golub recently saw video of a ‘buddy bench’ at a school in Pennsylvania and knew they wanted to have one at their elementary school.
The idea behind a buddy bench is simple: a lonely student takes a seat when they’re having difficulties making friends. Those on the bench will be approached by other students willing to be friends with them.
Ryan and Jack, who are in first and fourth grade, respectively, lobbied the PTA for the funds for the buddy bench. The brothers designed it themselves and it reads “make a friend, be a friend.” The bench was unveiled on Friday, Feb. 3 at Jones Lane Elementary School.
“It’s heartbreaking to think of, everyone remembers elementary school. It’s tough to think you don’t fit in,” said Annette Golub, Jack and Ryan’s mother. She and her sons hope the bench will help alleviate bullying and bring students together.