New Group Brings Teens Together

BOSTON--What's the secret to bringing communities together? Ouija knows.

Last night, a group of 20 teenagers from Chinatown and Franklin Hill became fast friends after playing the mystical game.

The predominantly African-American teens from Franklin Hill and Asian-American teens from Chinatown were brought together by Kids Seeing I to I (Kids' SITI), a new Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) program.

Kids' SITI's goal is to bring existing PBHA groups together to overcome barriers of stereotype and racial prejudice.

The group is the first of its kind at PBHA, according to its co-director, Samuel M. Rosaldo '98.

At Kids' SITI's first event, the two groups of teens had not met anyone from the other community before the night began.

But after a scavenger hunt, a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers and the dreaded apres clean-up, they began to kid each other.

The two groups sat apart until a guest at the hostel showed a collection of turn-of-the-century photographs.

The pictures, all of bicycles, sparked the initial interaction between the two sets of teens.

The teenagers and coordinators stayed overnight at the Boston Youth Hostel.

For the sleepover, teenagers in both groups prepared a video of their communities to help the other group get a picture of their everyday lives.

The Franklin Hill students introduced themselves in a series of mock interviews, while the group from Chinatown performed skits to represent their community.

When the Chinatown group showed a game of ouija in their video, the teens' curiosity overcame any shyness and they joked with each other like close friends.

The teenagers' overnight excursion was partially funded by a grant from American Youth Hostels.

According Mark Gesner, director of the Boston hostel, most people don't realize hostels support educational programs and other charities.

"Hostels aren't simply an inexpensive place to stay," he said. "We provide a great deal of community outreach as well."

The overnight stay was only one phase of the Kids' SITI plan to foster communication between the two minority communities.

Participants expressed excitement about future SITI activities, including an upcoming fishing trip in April as well as another overnight trip where they will watch a new video featuring both groups