(Editor’s note: The Young Leaders group at Lynn Jeffers School on Nevis is competing with schools across the region to meet the requirements of this year’s project, “Bridging The Gap.” Last year, the school finished in second place in this contest, which is sponsored by RBTT Bank. Students involved in this project are conducting interviews to discuss issues that have an impact on a wide variety of people. The Observer is publishing excerpts from their work today and in the coming weeks. The Observer is not requiring the use of last names in this instance.)

Being a school with multiracial students as well as teachers gives the Lyn Jeffers a unique perspective on race relations.  We have students and teachers from many countries, different religions and races and all types of backgrounds and personal experiences.  The Lyn Jeffers Young Leaders decided to see what people in the community thought about what the causes of poor race relations were and what could be done about it.  Here are some of the responses:

1. What do you think is the main cause of the gap in race relations?

2. What concrete steps can be taken to bridge the gap?

A.H – Male, 22: “The main cause of the gap is fear of anything different. I believe we can achieve better understanding through more social interactions.”

M.S – Female, 31: “The main causes of the gap are ethnic relationships, group problems, prejudice, and political issues. We need to educate people about the need for unity amongst the various races, to improve economics, cultures, and relationships.”

K.P – Female, 49; “Lack of understanding that causes suspicion and lack of exposure to other cultures and races are big causes of the gaps in race relations. These gaps can be bridged in places like schools, community clubs and organizations like the Rotary Club and Girl Guides, who can host events that bring people together and open up dialogue.”

M.J – Female, 32: “There are too many people who think they are better than one another. Some think that race diversity is like religion – there are too many of them, even though we can’t help the way they are. If God accepts us the way we are, why shouldn’t everyone else?”

P.J – Male, 16: “I say the gap is mainly caused because people fear what they don’t understand, and they don’t understand the differences between races.  Educating people about the differences so that they are not afraid of them is an important step to take.”

D.J – male, 21: “The different ways of living and cultures can make other cultures feel inferior or superior. Appearance is also a factor. To bridge this gap, we should educate people about the different cultures and races, and create a feeling of one race – human.”