USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education (USC Shoah Foundation), and Discovery Education today announced the winners of the 2021 Stronger Than Hate Challenge. The 2021 winners exemplify the power of youth voices to connect communities and the role of social-emotional learning in empowering students to overcome hate.
The Stronger Than Hate Challenge encourages students ages 13+ in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada to work individually or in groups of 2-4 to submit multimedia projects demonstrating the power of story to create a community that is stronger than hate.
The Stronger Than Hate Challenge builds upon the USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education no-cost and standards-aligned educational initiative, Teaching with Testimony, which inspires middle and high school students to create a better future by learning from the powerful testimony of survivors and witnesses of genocide.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled rapid increases in racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism all over the world, making the Stronger Than Hate program more important and relevant than ever. Students participating in this unique challenge produced remarkable content, despite many barriers and distance, exemplifying the power of storytelling to promote empathy, understanding, and respect. We are proud of every submission and left hopeful that students will enact real change in their communities as a result of this initiative,” said USC Shoah Foundation Head of Programs for Education, Lesly Culp.
The winners of the Stronger Than Hate Challenge demonstrated excellence in leveraging testimony and creativity to promote empathy, understanding, and respect in their local communities. The 2021 Stronger Than Hate Challenge winners are:
11th grader Madhalasa I. from Plano Senior High School of the Plano Independent School District located in Texas will receive a $6,000 scholarship for the video poem titled “Where Were You?” In addition, Madhalasa receives an exclusive learning experience from the team of storytellers at USC Shoah Foundation.
Inspired by the testimony of Holocaust survivor Tamara Bratinsky, Madhalasa created the multi-media poem emphasizing the importance of standing up for what’s right in order to stop history from repeating itself. As Madhalasa stated in the submission: “If we can all speak out against discrimination, our war on division is won and acts such as genocide and atrocities would only be present in the pages of history.”
7th grader Ramaa P. from Avondale Alternative School in Canada’s Toronto District School Board will receive a $3,000 scholarship for their poem entitled “Stronger Than Hate.”
The written piece depicts a concerned person comforting a mother saddened by her children’s constant quarreling. The reader discovers the mother is Mother Earth distraught by how humans are treating each other and the planet, remarking “How long will you wait? It’s time for humans to grow stronger than hate.” Ramaa remarks that “In this poem I have given an outsider’s perspective on this issue, it underlines the petty and trivial nature of the origins of hatred. My poem encourages readers to reflect on how their actions can make a difference.”
11th grader Aneesa T. from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School of the New York City Geographic District #26 located in New York will receive a $1,000 scholarship for the poem and artwork titled “Face the Truth.” Inspired by the testimony of Kizito Klima, a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Aneesa created a poem and art piece intended to spark conversations for the transformation of society. Connecting the movement for racial equity in the United States, Aneesa states that “I wanted to point out in my poem that black lives do matter and the only way we can solve this problem is by loving each other and finding proper solutions.”
“We are proud to partner with USC Shoah Foundation to elevate student voices and promote understanding and diversity through these uniquely powerful social-emotional learning resources,” said Lori McFarling, President of Social Impact at Discovery Education. “Congratulations to each of the 2021 Stronger Than Hate Challenge winners and thank you for your inspirational work to make the world a more equitable place.”
Teaching with Testimony supports the integration of social-emotional learning—student understanding of their emotions, social skills, and how these influence decision-making and interpersonal relationships—into classroom learning through with dynamic and thoughtful content and inspiring educational supports.
The digital resources from Teaching with Testimony, including the Stronger Than Hate Challenge, support education online, at home, or wherever learning is taking place. Learn more about the Stronger Than Hate Challenge and the partnership at TeachingwithTestimony.com and in the Social Impact Partnerships channel on Discovery Education’s recently enhanced K-12 learning platform.
For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit www.discoveryeducation.comand stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn.
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.