NANTICOKE ‚?? After a few questions Linda Trompetter realized she had work to do with the group of high school juniors seated around her.
The executive director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Diversity Education Consortium quizzed them on the percentage of Jews worldwide and the students were not even close to the correct answer of less than 1 percent.
‚??You can‚??t be a leader unless you have your facts straight,‚?Ě Trompetter told the teenage boys and girls chosen to participate in the inaugural D4 Multicultural Leadership Seminar. The students submitted applications and wrote short essays in order to be considered for the seminar.
Their first session Friday at Luzerne County Community College dealt with leadership and over the next nine months approximately 60 students from private and public schools in the county will discuss topics such as race, gender issues and sexual orientation, visit a synagogue and mosque and talk about themselves in order to carry out the mission of the program and be ambassadors of change in their schools.
‚??Our goal is to provide the knowledge, awareness and skills,‚?Ě Trompetter said.
Azeen Athar bought into it.
‚??I‚??m Muslim. Personally, I feel different,‚?Ě the 15-year-old Crestwood student from Mountain Top said.
She described herself as quiet and hesitant to speak up at times and looked to gain some confidence by participating in the program.
Her focus went beyond herself.
‚??I want to learn about other people,‚?Ě Athar said.
She and others earned the praise of author, lecturer and management consultant Lonnie Barone who spoke to them during the first session.
‚??I think it was an act of courage for each and every one of you to sign up to come here,‚?Ě Barone said.
The free seminar grew out of a weeklong diversity camp at Misericordia University and is underwritten by donations from Procter & Gamble, Guard Insurance and Wal-Mart distribution. Trompetter is still raising funds for the program.
In addition to Trompetter, presenters included: Arthur Breese, director of diversity for Geisinger Health Care System; Joe DeLucca, of the Luzerne Intermediate Unit; Janis Seeley, chair of social sciences/history at LCCC.
Schools do not offer similar programs and the students suffer, Breese said.
‚??Our students are so ill-prepared for a global society,‚?Ě he said.
The program aims to instill in the students that the most important thing they can do is ‚??make a difference‚?Ě in the world in some way, he said.
How to donate
To help with fundraising for the D4 Multicultural Leadership Seminar contact Linda Trompetter, executive director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Diversity Education Consortium, at 570-262-6597 or e-mail her at [email protected].