On May 4, Breakthrough Miami hosted their inaugural Breakthroughs & Bridges at the University of Miami, bringing together 50 students from diverse backgrounds to have thought-provoking conversations around the divisiveness that has become so prevalent today and how together we can breakthrough and bridge the gap to leverage our differences to better our collective future. The goal is to give students a chance to reflect on their own experiences, learn from students of different communities, and gain practical skills to take action.
“The speed at which divisiveness is replacing discourse today is challenging for all of us, but our young people are hit the hardest,” said Lori-Ann Cox, Chief Executive Officer, Breakthrough Miami. “Conversations that were already uncomfortable now feel volatile, or downright impossible, in our current climate. Breakthroughs & Bridges is our effort to help facilitate a space where students can feel safe to speak their minds, understand different perspectives, and find common ground so that, together, we can breakthrough our challenges and find our better selves. That’s how we’ll build a brighter future.”
A part of 10 Days of Connection, the day’s activities were facilitated by Emani Jerome, MPA (former Miami Associate with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) and Anthony Teague (K-12 Partnerships Manager at Florida International University), with student participants consisting of Breakthrough Scholars (motivated high school students from under-resourced communities across Miami) and Host Site School students (high school students enrolled at one of Breakthrough independent school partners).
With an emphasis on listening, learning, and understanding of others, the day featured activities designed to challenge students to develop greater empathy and collaborate in a forum that would otherwise not exist. Workshops included: Design Thinking: Participants developed solutions to unique and relevant societal/community challenges; Theatre of the Oppressed: This immersive experience invited students to play out and adapt actions to challenging situations (i.e. racism and discrimination); and Fishbowl: Exploring Mellody Hobson’s Color Blind or Color Brave? TED Talk, students discussed the intricacies of discrimination across culture, sexual preference, and race.
“I am extremely diverse – I’m hispanic, I’m a woman, I’m black … and I’ve always tried to help people like me,” said Yakira Pinillos Linares, Breakthrough Miami Scholar and Breakthroughs & Bridges participant. “I really feel like I matter in my community and I can help people like me when I’m a part of Breakthrough [Miami].”