How can the United States be a friendlier country? That is the question we asked students of Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill. What they said, you can watch in this video; if you’d like to know how the idea came together, read on.

Two weeks ago, PublicSource — at the invitation of the Global Minds Initiative and Change Agency — joined a group discussion at the high school on immigrant integration efforts and what it’s like to be an immigrant, a Muslim or a person of color in Pittsburgh. Students had a lot to share. They cited education, awareness and speaking up against hate and violence as key to a safer and more tolerant environment. We talked about the importance of storytelling and showed our recent video on the type of hate mail Pittsburgh’s Muslim neighbors are receiving and how they respond. At the end, we asked the students what they thought of the video and how they could make their communities more welcoming.

One young woman urged the class to not judge Muslims based on the media coverage. “Ask me. I can tell you what Islam is about.”

Special thanks to Peyton Klein of the Global Minds Initiative and Betty Cruz of the Change Agency for inviting PublicSource to engage with the students.

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Ryan is a PublicSource visual producer/storyteller. He joined PublicSource after being a freelance producer of news features and documentary stories in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. His work appeared...