LCC’s Community Multicultural Awareness Program (CMAP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The program is designed for 10th and 11th grade students from high schools in Klaipeda and nearby towns. CMAP was launched 10 years ago with the ultimate purpose of increasing cultural awareness, providing human rights education, and promoting tolerance and community engagement.
On average, 80 participants come to each of seven weekly sessions each semester. Awareness of and interest in the program is growing. According to Ella Myer, who has been leading the program for 4 years, the success of the program can be measured by the impact it has on the local community.
The program is delivered by Myer and a team of 7 LCC students, who represent 6 nationalities and 3 continents. Each CMAP session is based on a theme, such as human rights or the refugee crisis. Students participate in multiple interactive activities and discussions. All CMAP sessions are in English; therefore it is also a great opportunity for local youth to practice and improve their communication skills in English. The program fosters a friendly, open atmosphere, which helps participants speak openly about what they think. Oftentimes a close relationship develops between CMAP leaders and Klaipeda high school students.
The assessment surveys which are done at the end of the program show that CMAP impacts the participants in a profound way. As Myer explains: “Their eyes are opening to the reality of prejudice, racism and human rights violations. It is amazing to witness this change. They start seeing the world from the perspective of people of different skin color, nationality, or even just social group. Often they become friends with an Asian, a Russian or an American for the first time. After forming these friendships, it is very hard to cling to stereotypes or to live in fear of “other” people.”
CMAP is a transformational experience both for local young people and for LCC international students. We thank everyone who has dedicated their time and effort to CMAP during the past 10 years and hope that the program only continues to grow, while more and more young people become passionate about equality and human rights.