Global Intolerance Offers New Perspectives for Students


Tanatswa Chivero

Global Intolerance gives students a better understanding of mass exterminations throughout history.

Global Intolerance is a unique course offered at Westside High School which explores different societies and cultures, as well as genocides and other catastrophic events in world history.

Freshman Abby Cartwright said she feels the class is important to learn about events outside of the United States.

“I think the importance [of the class] is [to teach] that horrible events take place around the world and how we should learn about it,” Cartwright said. “We should just know the facts and events that took place in those countries because there are people from around the world who immigrated to America, and since they are part of our country, we should know a wide knowledge about where everyone came from and what they had to deal with and their family ancestors. Global Intolerance just teaches you the importance of the events that came around the world.”

At the start of taking the class, Cartwright said she was hesitant to share her thoughts because she didn’t have a solid understanding of some of the topics. 

“I didn’t think I could share my knowledge with my community because I didn’t want to spread false information,” Cartwright said. “However, one thing Global Intolerance does really well is informing the students on the event in multiple perspectives.”

Having now passed the class, Cartwright says it has inspired her to speak up now that she has a better understanding of the material.

“I now can say that I know I can spread the information [from] this class with my community to improve it, because it’s motivated me to use my voice, [and] to speak up because I now know the truth behind the events and the details that took place,” Cartwright said.

Global Intolerance instructor Jonathan Preister said that some events discussed in class are relevant to current events.

“We took that first week or two and we talked a lot of the stuff that happened this summer with the Black Lives Matter movement, and one of my friends came in to talk about his experiences within Omaha,” Preister said. “He’s a member of the African American community and lives in Westside, so he has his feet in both spheres so to say, and he talked to our students about how [what it is like] being a Black man living in a predominantly white community. I think it was eye-opening for a lot of our students, so we’re constantly looking to see what current events are going on and trying to make it applicable to this class.” 

Cartwright was a part of the group who listened to the speaker’s perspective, and found that some historical events are still occurring today.

“We had a speaker come in who gave his perspective on when he grew up as a child and compared it to the George Floyd movement and how when he was growing up he was called different names and [had] encounters with police officers,” Cartwright said. “In Global Intolerance, it teaches you things that are also going on now and brings in guest speakers with their history and past into parts of these events. We need to realize that George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement didn’t just happen in 2020, it’s been happening over a large period of time and, even if it happened one hundred years ago, there are still events taking place one hundred years later.” 

Preister expressed the importance of understanding others’ backgrounds and daily lives in our own communities.

“I think the problem we have in America is that we don’t look at things from other people’s perspectives,” Preister said. “We are consumed with ‘what is good for me’. We don’t want things taken away from [us] so things like money or economic issues or my liberties and rights and those things. We don’t try to understand the struggles and the pain and suffering that other people have to live through and we immediately shut those things out because we’re scared of what that’s going to do to us, so that’s the importance of this [class], is for some students sitting in Westside Community Schools who comes from a pretty good home life trying to understand why this kid in South Omaha or North Omaha that lives in poverty struggles to even get to school on a daily basis.”

In describing the course, Preister points out some of his favorite key historical events, and the lessons that come from them. 

“I really enjoyed looking at the Holocaust and a lot of the issues that were brought up in there,” Preister said. “I have been drawn to the Rwandan genocide with the circumstances that played out there within the international community and the lack of response to it.”

“We can’t put our feet in each other’s shoes and what they went through, but if we gained more knowledge about it and what they’ve been through and what they’ve gone through, it gives us a lot more respect towards them and it’s just a good thing to know,” Cartwright said.