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Lessons in empathy through a study of hate

iTech, science

Pictured on top from left: Tennessee Sanders and Kenedy Williams. Below from left: Alondra Gallegos and Gabby Karber

Exhibition showcases multidisciplinary research

Much ink has been spilled in the examination of love: its origins and endings, how it waxes and wanes. But less attention has been paid to its duality: hate. How does it manifest and spread? What are the implications of vitriol?

Now, high school students at Vancouver iTech Preparatory have answered these questions and others in a multidisciplinary project called the Science of Hate.

Working in groups, students tackled weighty subjects including race, gender and miscegenation.

Topics included gender-based disparities in pay and education and social views on female roles. “In the media, women aren’t seen as strong, powerful people who receive an education or go off to work,” said freshman Gabby Karber. She collaborated with sophomore Alondra Gallegos to investigate the gender gap in both English and Spanish.

Students also researched hate groups. “We don’t want this erased from history because it could be repeated,” said sophomore Joe Gornowicz. “We want this to be out in the open so that people know what happened.”

That’s also the hope of the iTech teaching staff, who adapted the school’s advisory committee’s suggested learning theme of transportation into a study of how ideas move from one person to another, one culture to the next.

Their hope is that students will use their findings to become leaders in a more compassionate future.

Despite the at times uncomfortable nature of the subject, students say it’s important to explore the acrimonious, the painful, in order strengthen hate’s natural enemy: empathy.

Said sophomore Annika Dowler, “It definitely opens people’s eyes to what is happening today and what happened in the past, so that people can be aware of how we can stop hate. And to influence them: ‘Hey, these are people, too.’”

The Science of Hate will be on display at Clark College’s Gaiser Student Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, on Friday, June 9, 2017, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.