When Karen Kalish founded Cultural Leadership, one of her goals was to create “trouble makers of the best kind.”
The organization is currently in the process of educating its 9th class of “troublemakers,” helping them learn about each other’s cultures and inspiring them to be agents of social change. When it was founded in 2004, the organization’s primary goal was to promote understanding between African American and Jewish high school students. Since then, the program has been expanded to include students of all faiths and ethnicities.
The 27 members of Class 9 who have been meeting since January of 2013, recently returned from a three week “Transformational Journey” where they visited sites important to the struggle for civil rights, social justice and the Jewish experience. The trip included visits to New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, several cities in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as Little Rock, Arkansas. During the three weeks, the students met with a multitude of notable people including Supreme Court Justices, Congressmen, civil rights figures, Jewish leaders and many more. They toured numerous museums, visited the Simon Weisenthal Tolerance Center and the 9/11 Memorial, walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and sat at the entrance of Little Rock High School.
Now that the Class 9 members have returned to St. Louis, they are challenged to take what they have learned and become agents of social change. Says Kalish, “We have so many problems in this country and we need a whole new generation of young people who know about these issues, who care about them. One of our mottos is ‘when you see a problem, you grab an ally or two or three, role up your sleeve and get to work,’ [and to be] ‘trouble makers of the best kind.’”
The application process for Class 10 of Cultural Leadership begins in August. Details will be available on the Cultural Leadership Website.
Three of the Class 9 students and one of the trip leaders were Don Marsh’s guests on St. Louis on the Air to talk about their experiences on their transformational journey and the next steps in their Cultural Leadership experience.
The guests included trip leader Brittany Campbell who was a member of Cultural Leadership Class 4, Whitfield High School Senior Isabella Gross, Parkway North High School Junior Evan Lehmann and Cardinal Ritter High School Senior Mikal Smith.
Follow St. Louis on the Air on Twitter - @STLonAir