When Marlene Taylor-Ponterotto’s family moved to Harlem, she did not expect to be made fun of by the residents of her new neighborhood.

“People would say to us, ‘You’re not from Harlem. You talk white,’” said Taylor- Ponterotto, an African-American physician’s assistant at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

Taylor-Ponterotto now lives with her Italian-American husband and two sons in Riverdale, Bronx, and she understands that her biracial kids might be made fun of for being different, like she was.

Not wanting history to repeat itself, Taylor-Ponterotto entered her eldest son, Christopher, in the Manhattan Multicultural Summer Youth Program. Founded in 2008, the Multicultural Summer Youth Program teaches children and young adults the importance of accepting other ethnicities, cultures and religions. The goal is to abolish prejudices that adolescents may have towards heritages they are not familiar with.

“The whole program is structured to teach youth to foster tolerance and reduce their fears about each other,” said Mahroo Moshari, director of the program.

After 9/11, Moshari worked with Muslim students in public and private schools. Originally from Iran, she felt there was a lack of interaction between the Muslim population and the other students. Wanting to increase communication between the students, Moshari created the Multicultural Summer Youth Program.

“Every one of us comes from a part of the world,” said Moshari, who is also a social worker and therapist. “We all have been discriminated against. If we don’t let go, we keep carrying it over to the next generation.”

For one week, students ages 16 to 21 attend a series of conferences at the United Nations, where they learn about global issues. Students also learn about the U.N.’s organizations like the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

The next week, students visit museums, including the Museum of Tolerance on 42nd Street, learning about the practice of other cultures. The program also has a holy day, where students go to different places of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues.

A key component of Moshari’s program is that students must be from a multicultural background. This could include an American child with parents from overseas or a child born overseas but who has grown up in America.

Christopher Ponterotto, Taylor-Ponterotto’s son, is an example. Since her kids look more Black than Italian, Taylor-Ponterotto said she wanted her son to be in an environment that would foster positive images of African-Americans. She enrolled him into the Multicultural Summer Youth Program when he was in junior high school.

“My mom wanted me to join the program not only to strengthen my knowledge and awareness for other cultures but to intensify my own respect for my biracial identity,” said Ponterotto, who turns 18 next month.

Moshari said that when the students sit and talk to each other, they realize they have a lot of similarities. She remembered a time with the program helped a Palestinian girl and a Jewish boy who, at first, did not want to enter her program.

“Both of them struggled to communicate with each other. They confronted each other about the preconceived notion they had,” Moshari said.

Students also get the chance to confront doubts they may have about themselves.

“I see kids who are suffering, they have identity crises with themselves,” said Moshari, “especially immigrant populations.”

With the program’s help, Ponterotto said he has learned so much about the people he comes across on a daily basis.

“I feel it is vital to have a stronger understanding and tolerance for all people in our world, and this program has granted me that gift,” Ponterotto said.

His mother couldn’t agree more. “Without [Moshari’s] encouragement, I don’t think he would be where he is now,” Taylor-Ponterotto said.