AWOD Effectiveness Questioned

Dan Gregory, Writer

All freshman at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans VT have to participate in A World of Difference, or AWOD. The sponsored activity meets in freshman advisories every Wednesday and attempts to teach about diversity and unity. However, the message does not always get across.

A representative grouping of seven ninth graders were interviewed in order to get a picture of how the AWOD program is viewed by students.

Most students agreed with what AWOD stands for and what they are trying to do, but they feel that AWOD facilitators could go about it in a much better way.

“I don’t know how they screen the AWOD facilitators, but the need to improve the process. The people trying to teach me don’t know the facts themselves, they are not engaged, and they are too stubborn to hold the role they do. A lot of the AWOD kids are the meanest people I know,” said a freshman who wishes to stay anonymous.

Many people interviewed are not happy with the way the AWOD facilitators attempt to teach them. They feel that AWOD meetings should only promote healthy discussion of topics, not force their
own ideals onto you.

One freshman student was upset by how closed minded some of the facilitators could be.

“A student got kicked out of my advisory a few weeks ago simply because he disagreed with something that she (AWOD facilitator) said, even though it was a valid opinion. It was ridiculous,” the freshman said.

One student interviewed felt that some of the students who lead AWOD are not yet mature enough to run a classroom.

“My peers suddenly become some kind of adult figure that I have to listen to when they’re just not ready for that kind of responsibility,” said the freshman. every Wednesday.

“The people in my advisory are great. They do a really good job, and keep their own personal beliefs out of the discussion. I feel that is key.” Susan Bosland, a NWTC guidance counselor and one of the heads of AWOD here at BFA, is a huge supporter of A World of Difference.

“I think AWOD is fantastic,” said Bosland.

The screening process for facilitators is very limited. “Students are given the opportunity to apply to be peer trainers in the spring. Applications can be found in the Guidance Office. Students answer a few questions and provide a letter of recommendation from an adult,” Bosland said.

The limited screening of students who apply may be contributing to some of the problems freshmen have reported, such as facilitators that are not yet mature enough to lead a class.

When asked why they joined AWOD, the most common answer from facilitators was that it looks good on their college resume.

Granted, some of the students interviewed had concrete reasoning backed by their morals, but most people joined AWOD to better their chances at getting into a good college. AWOD has an amazing message and some great ideas.

However, like every organization improvements can be made.