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For twenty years, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute (known in its early years as the Metrotown Institute) has helped students to break barriers, learn effective strategies to deal with biased behavior, and develop action plans to reduce prejudice in their schools.  What started as a weeklong experience in Richmond has developed into a body of programming that reaches thousands of students and adults across Virginia each year.  And program alumni are sharing what they have learned locally, nationally, and around the world.

To celebrate this anniversary, alumni and friends are participating in the “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia” to raise funds to sustain the program’s future. The Cheats Movement and VCIC invited program alumni from the Richmond area to share their reflections.

“When I was a teenager, I felt like I knew more about inclusiveness than most of my peers.  At Connections, my knowledge was challenged while my experiences were listened to.  I was encouraged to confront and learn about the struggles of others that I had not experienced.  Connections still impacts my day to day life, a reason that I have decided to continue to participate as a counselor.”  Fariss Hodder, Class of 2007, Student Mary WashingtonFariss Hodder
“Connections was an amazing experience.  You go in so ignorant about the different things happening not only in your community, but everywhere around you. You come out a different person. Definitely a life changing experience!” Manny Leveron, Class of 2010, Graduate, Huguenot High School

Manny Leveron

“As a member of the very first Metrotown, it was an amazing program that solidified life lessons and fostered strong relationships that I still have nearly 20 years later.” Tracee Logan, Class of 1993

Tracee Logan

“Metrotown gave me a wonderful opportunity to discuss real issues in an open and vibrant forum. I left feeling more aware of who I was and who other people were as well. As a fourteen year old kid, I was glad that I learned that we all have something to offer at the table and that our differences should be celebrated.” John Morgan IV, Class of 1993, English Teacher, St. Catherine’s School

John Morgan IV

“The program enhanced my leadership skills and introduced me to a great collection of cultural and diverse peers and teachers.  I was fortunate and blessed to be a part of the inaugural class.  We were all mentored by outstanding leaders such as the late and great Harold Marsh.  The program was a life changing experience for me.  The lessons I learned at the Metrotown Institute went deeper than academic achievements and friendships, they formed trust and respect for myself and others.” Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Class of 1993, Assistant Vice President, McGuireWoods Consulting

Felix Sarfo-Kantanka



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