ADL to celebrate ‘A World of Difference’

BY LOIS CAPLAN

This is the twentieth anniversary of the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute and it will be celebrated on Thursday, Sept. 6 at the 2007 Workplace Diversity Award Dinner at the Missouri Historical Society. Alberici Constructors and Family Health Care Centers will each receive the award for their exceptional commitment to diversity by recruiting, retaining and advancing people of color, women and other targeted groups; fostering an inclusive environment for all employees; offering family friendly workplace policies; incorporating workplace diversity into corporate goals and performance measures; and through philanthropic contributions to the St. Louis region, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The dinner, chaired by Roberta Cohen, is being held at Merewether’s, the restaurant in the History Museum, in order to showcase their new collaborative program entitled “Reading Bias/Writing Tolerance: Using History’s Powerful Stories.” During the cocktail hour beginning at six, guests can participate in a 15-minute tour of artifacts in two galleries that are used in the program to serve as catalysts for understanding bias, prejudice and discrimination and ways in which students can prevent bias as individuals. A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute facilitators will guide the tours and provide an interactive opportunity for the guests so that they can get a sense of the power of the objects and the interactive quality of the program. There will also be the introduction and distribution of an imaginative new game based on the Institute’s activity called “Cultural Pursuit.” It’s a game card that looks like a bingo card and encourages individuals, families, schools, workplaces and communities to visit and experience many of the unique and varied cultural opportunities in the St. Louis region. The card will be available at Shop and Save stores and can be downloaded from the www.adl.org website. Winners of the game will be eligible to receive valuable prizes. The Cultural Pursuit game offers those unable to attend the dinner the opportunity to participate from the month of September through Dec. 31.

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Reading Bias/Writing Tolerance, a program for middle and high school students from across the St. Louis region, is designed to increase student awareness and understanding of bias, prejudice and discrimination and its negative impact; to increase their knowledge of history and historic events through the use of artifacts and objects in the History Museum and to increase student’s desire to write and improve literacy skills. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Dana Brown Foundation, the Institute and the Museum were able to create a twelve-lesson curriculum for area schools, a ten-minute video which will be previewed at the dinner, and a great website, www.biasandtolerance.org. I recommend that you log on to the website which will give you in-depth understanding of this outstanding collaborative program.

When Chairperson Roberta Cohen sent me the menu for the ADL Workplace Diversity Award Dinner, I thought that the food would be the most interesting part of the evening. (I was wrong but the food is great.) Called an Ethnic Culinary Adventure with multi-cultural cuisine, it includes everything from Spanish, Jewish (potato latkes) and Thai/South East Asian appetizers to African-American, French and all-American (apple pie) desserts. The salad, entr ée, vegetables, starches and breads are representative of the cuisine of multitudinous nations.

Tony Scott, on-air radio personality at Majic 104.9 FM, will be the Master of Ceremonies of the evening which begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails. Reservations for the dinner at $200 per person may be made by calling the ADL office at 314-432-6868.

ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute’s dinner will also serve as the official kick-off of the month long 20th anniversary celebration which will feature a four-week series of programs, events and activities, establishing September as Diversity Month throughout the community.

“I feel very strongly about the importance of teaching tolerance, understanding and respect for diversity to our children, and that is what the A WORLD OF DIFERENCE project does. Recognizing companies that reflect these qualities in their workplaces and through their business practices is just an extension of this educational process. Essentially we are recognizing and rewarding positive behaviors,” Roberta told me and concluded, “Imagine a world without bigotry, racism, prejudice or intolerance…We should celebrate what is unique or different, not use these variations as reasons for hatred.”

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