International Day for Tolerance – Celebrate Difference

November 15, 2017

The International Day for Tolerance on November 16 has been observed by states of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) since 1996, which followed the Year for Tolerance campaign in 1995.

What was happening two decades ago? For most of that original year for tolerance, the Bosnian War waged between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, killing more than 100,000. The dead included Bosnian Muslim victims of genocide, the first committed in Europe since the Holocaust of World War II. In Africa, Hutu perpetrated genocide against Tutsi in the Rwandan civil war that often literally cut or struck down an estimated 500,000 to one-million people in approximately 100 days in 1994.

Today’s ethic, religious, sectarian and civil wars and international conflicts have created a crises of unprecedented proportion: the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR recorded 65.6 million refugees and displaced persons at the end of 2016.

The UN declaration of tolerance asserts that “tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference, but respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.”

THIRTEEN’s programming aims to present what is happening in the world, with the goal of educating, inspiring, and fostering celebration of our differences. Consider learning to view the world through another person’s eyes on the International Day for Tolerance.

Watch on THIRTEEN

Films ByKids

FILMS BYKIDS is a partnership between THIRTEEN and BYkids that brings the voice of five young filmmakers from different cultures to a wider audience through the power and reach of public media. FILMS BYKIDS pairs master filmmakers, including the late Albert Maysles, Neal Baer and Joyce Chopra among others, with teenagers from around the world to create short personal documentaries that educate Americans as they encourage international understanding and engagement about globally relevant issues. Emmy-nominated actress Ashley Judd is the series narrator, introducing each 30-minute film in the five-part series that offers a perspective rarely seen in mainstream media.

Home Is Where You Find It (Mozambique)

Sixteen-year-old Alcides Soares, like hundreds of thousands of kids in Mozambique, lost his parents to AIDS. Alcides is living apart from his sister and searching for a little brother he hasn’t seen in 10 years. While he found shelter with a neighbor, many of Alcides’ friends are living on their own, hoping for a better situation. Mentored by filmmakers Neal Baer and Chris Zalla, Alcides conveys his inspiring story about finding family and how he and his young friends face hardship with dignity and resilience. Watch now.

“Storytelling is our basic way of communicating our dreams, our hopes and our fears. Yet many stories go unheard, stories that could move us, stories that could motivate us to take action, because the poor and the disenfranchised too often do not have the technology to tell their personal tales.” – Neal Baer (Executive Producer, Under the Dome, Law and Order SVU, ER)

My Country Is Tibet (Tibet)

India is home to tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees. But only one – 17-year-old Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari – was crowned King of Tibet by the Dalai Lama. The only living descendent of Songtsen Gampo, the first Dharma King of Tibet (617-698 AD), this young exiled king doesn’t live in a palace; he lives in a settlement and does chores. It’s unclear whether he will ever be able to return to his homeland and assume the responsibilities of king. Mentored by filmmaker Dirk Simon, Namgyal shows how he and other young exiles preserve their traditional culture while hoping to return to an independent Tibet. Watch now.

“BYkids will provide [Namgyal] the opportunity to share with an international audience both his unique perspective and the story of his generation.” – Dirk Simon (Director, Between the Lines)

Fire In Our Hearts (India)

Like most girls from rural India, 16-year-old Jayshree Janu Kharpade never expected to get an education. Instead, she had to work to help support her family. But union organizers were determined that girls from poor tribal villages have a better future and built a school. Film mentor, Joyce Chopra, a pioneer of documentary film, helped Jayshree share her journey from illiterate laborer, to scholar and young activist – in this powerful story that illuminates the social and economic potential of educating girls in the developing world. Watch now.

“I was constantly amazed at the courage these young people showed in the face of difficulties most of us would collapse under… to have young people from around the globe shape their own film stories so that we may learn from them is truly inspiring.” – Joyce Chopra (Producer/director, Smooth Talks, The Lady in Question, That Our Children Will Not Die)

Displaced But Not Defeated (Colombia)

For decades, civil war has raged in Colombia. Violence has displaced millions of people, like 16-year-old María Ceballos, who fled her home when guerrillas killed her father. Moving from gang-infested settlements to over-crowded rooms, María’s family finds comfort among fellow displaced families and moments of joy in creative endeavors. Through her lens and mentored by filmmaker Susan Hoenig, María puts a human face on displacement. Watch now.

“By giving kids the tools to create their own documentaries, these stories can finally be told from their perspective, a point of view that will hopefully strike a chord with others in similar situations throughout the world…” – Susan Hoenig (produced shows for Discovery, National Geographic, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS)

Poet Against Prejudice (United States)

Moving to a new country was challenging for Faiza Almontaser, a 17-year-old from New York City, who immigrated with her family to the US from Yemen when she was in middle school. She faced vicious bullying because of her Islamic identity and lost close friends to hate crimes. Through it all, her family still embraced their new home, and Faiza found a creative outlet for self-expression. Mentored by the legendary pioneer of direct cinema, Albert Maysles, Faiza’s film documents her courageous and inspiring journey from victim to activist. Watch now.

“BYkids is one of the most exciting projects to come my way in a long time. The idea of giving youth around the world the tools to tell their own stories with the expert help of filmmakers is brilliant and will go a long way in opening the eyes of Americans to the voices of kids and to the richness of the world. I am thrilled to be part of this team.” – Albert Maysles, Director/Cinematographer, Grey Gardens, Salesman, When We Were Kings, Gimme Shelter)

POV: Dalya’s Other Country


This documentary that premiered in June 2017 on THIRTEEN tells the nuanced story of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict and remaking themselves after the parents separate. Effervescent teen Dalya goes to Catholic high school and her mother Rudayana enrolls in college as they both walk the line between their Muslim values and the new world they find themselves in. Your membership supports programming like this. Members can watch the full film now.

Independent Lens: Real Boy


In this excerpt from the Independent Lens film Real Boy, Bennett enters the hospital for his gender surgery and is both touched and surprised that his mom Suzy came to be with him for support, despite her own reservations. She then gets supportive advice from another mom whose son made the same transition, and who reassures Suzy that Bennett will find the right person for him.