Imagine this. You are a 10yr old kid and your mum and dad just dropped you off at school in Christchurch, the other side of the world from where you were born. You enter the school with hundreds and hundreds of kids chattering; it echoes through your empty brain. Most of them mutter under their breath to their friends looking at something behind you. You look back, but nothing's there. Then you realize they are looking at you.
You manage to get through to lunch time. Everyone runs outside, waving their lunch boxes around. You slowly walk to where everyone ran too. Your hands grips onto your lunch box, harder and harder, till you hear a crack. Every seat is taken so you sit down in the shade of a building. It is cold and wet but better than standing up in the open.
You take your first bite of your sandwich, normally your favourite food, but today it just tastes like cardboard. You wish you could go home.
New Zealand has a big problem that not many people know about. More than six percent of New Zealanders (187,000) feel discriminated against, because they were treated unfairly or unfavourably. People get discriminated mostly by their skin colour, race, nationality or ethnicity. Will we be able to stop this.
Prejudice is a nasty label that people put on each other by what they do act and say. This can happen without realising that they may be harming someone. Prejudice happens when they have an opinion about someone else without meeting them or have any experience about them. People often speak before they think and can harm other people.
We interviewed an immigrant and she told us about when she was only a girl. When she was a girl and just moved to Christchurch from Iran, she often felt that prejudice was present. It a big impact on her first day at school because sometimes her classmates said stuff like "Is there a bomb in your lunch box?" Or at chemistry class they would ask: "What are you making?" and a classmate would say,"A bomb" and they would go off laughing.
These things can hurt people and they wouldn't want to go to school anymore. These things are often caused by movies, books, social media, friends and family. People should stop judging people by the way they look, or how they act because no one can choose what they look like or how they talk when they were born. I think people need to start respecting each other's thoughts and beliefs. They should start listening to each other and connect their ideas together. To start making a better future, and not ones with wars and other awful things.
We do all kind of thing to make people feel alienated. Even the smallest things can lead to BIG things. Frowning at them or ignoring them can make them feel unwanted. People sometimes stare at people who look different, whisper and laugh. But the really horrible thing is we just stand there and watch. We watch as they sit alone, as they hope they can go home. We watch every single tear drip down their cheek. It is time that we do something about it and not just watch. I think everyone feels guilty to see someone sit there feeling terrible. We sit there not knowing what to do. I think we can do better, I think we should stand up for each other and include them and be nice to them.
The good news is that we don't always do that. Sometimes we can make people feel great too. A small thing can lead into a big thing. By starting off you can just smile at them and say "Hello how are you?" This can lead into a conversation making the person feel included.You can say things good about them and just that will make their day. If this person was feeling lonely and your friend goes should we invite her to play would you say no or yes? Think to yourself - do you treat immigrants the same as you treat your friends? If there's a new student at the school, you could give them a school tour or host a party. But the most important thing we need to do is make sure we are not treating them differently.
We can make things better and make migrants feel included. I think New Zealand can work together and make everyone feel welcome and not unwelcome. We can learn about other languages and cultures. We can include people into community things or host a party with the neighbourhood. Or we can invite others to have coffee or tea with us. Just simple things can include them and feel like they are included in our community.
We can all do something that can help a migrant or just someone that looks lost. It may be just smiling at them. The smallest thing can make a big impact, and not only will that person feel better, it can make you feel really good too. This world needs to start choosing right things to say and do, before they go down a path that leads to wars and disagreement. We can all start a new world where we are the people that makes people feel happier and safe. It your choice, which one will you choose?