Diversity program has meaningful impact
Advance Kansas, a four-month diversity program that recently graduated its latest class, excels at getting people civically involved and ensuring that their involvement has impact.
For example, more homeless veterans will get sorely needed support because of this program. Some lonely seniors will meet children needing wisdom because of this program. Autistic children will have more local attractions to visit that won’t overwhelm their senses.
Those projects, as well as a Downtown Diversity Jam concert this summer and a recent culinary arts contest bringing together Wichita and Andover students, emerged from Advance Kansas work groups asked to develop sustainable projects promoting diversity.
A special thanks to our facilitator, Juan “Obi Juan” Johnson, president of Diversity Leadership in Action. A special thanks also to Spirit AeroSystems’ Brian Black, Butler Community College, Meritrust Credit Union, Westar Energy and T-Mobile, among others.
The organizers bill Advance Kansas as a way to diagnose and address intragroup tension, but it also plants relationships. Relationships make the best diversity programs. We need programs because we don’t have enough quality relationships.
Until we develop those, we can count on Advance Kansas to enjoy continued success.
On the surface, it offers ways to discuss difficult topics, but underneath, it also makes a meaningful impact on our diversity divide, one friendship at a time.
Mark McCormick, Wichita
Executive director, Kansas African American Museum
Out of context
The full-page “free-thinkers” ad in the May 15 Eagle by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was inaccurate from the very first Scripture verse.
The ad stated that “life begins at birth” and used Genesis 2:7 to prove its point. Those of us who actually do believe the Bible, and know what it says, know that neither God nor anyone “gave birth” to Adam. The verse states that God “created” Adam and breathed life into him. This, along with all the other verses referred to in the ad, was a perfect example of taking Scripture out of its context to prove a point.
Why the foundation and other such organizations expend so much time and energy trying to disprove a God and Bible they don’t believe in is beyond my thinking.
The ad stated that Jesus didn’t prohibit abortion. But neither did Jesus speak out against rape, incest or child molestation. So, based upon that same argument, does the Freedom From Religion Foundation think that as a “free-thinking” society we should accept those actions as well?
Yes, we are free to think, but let’s use a little common sense.
Gene R. Simowitz, El Dorado
East High was great
Though a Wichita native, I never experienced Wichita’s public school system until my second daughter decided to attend Wichita East High School and participate in the International Baccalaureate program. I am ecstatic to say that the past four years at East have been the best high school experience any parent could ask for their child.
Led by a completely invested and involved principal, Ken Thiessen, East is a true community encompassing students, teachers, coaches, alumni and parents who celebrate the individuality of the students while providing a personalized approach to learning. Students are encouraged to develop critical-thinking skills, utilize problem-solving techniques, and spend time in the community serving others.
Even greater than the education offered at East are the school spirit and sense of community and family instilled in the students. Attending a special education basketball game is a sight that makes you believe in the future as you watch the student body of East cheer on the athletes by name with an intensity that rivals any sporting event.
Thiessen leads his staff by example to provide a challenging, rigorous, respectful curriculum in a positive, supportive, fun and joyous approach that actually makes high school a place students want to attend and succeed. I thank the East High community for the past four years of memories and great education for my daughter.
Stacey Boothe Crowdus, Wichita
Awareness of Nakba
Yes, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled when their Arab brethren launched a war of annihilation against the fledgling state of Israel (“Be aware of the Nakba,” May 14 Letters to the Editor). And then hundreds of thousands of Jews fled from the Arab countries. About half the population of the state of Israel is Middle Eastern Jews who had lived in the Arab world since the days of the Babylonian exile.
No one ever talks about these Arabic-speaking Jews who left their homes and possessions and arrived in Israel with the shirts on their backs. They lost everything, were settled in refugee camps and started from scratch – moving on to become doctors and lawyers and politicians.
And no one talks about the Arab population that chose to stay in Israel and take Israeli citizenship. They too have moved up in Israeli society and are found everywhere – from a Miss Israel to a supreme court justice.
The Palestinians lost out, since bad leadership drove them to a no-compromise platform: They said “no” to the United Nations decision to divide the land between the Arabs and the Jews. They said “no” after the Six-Day War when Israel offered land for peace. They said “no” to President Clinton, who brokered a compromise that was accepted by the Israeli government.
The Palestinians need a leader who can say “yes.”
Amos J. Leitner, Wichita
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