The High School has welcomed a few interesting speakers in recent weeks. Last week, students heard from Richard Field, a native Australian who works in Africa as a safari guide. His tale of having been attacked by a lion and the lessons he learned during his recovery from that experience resonated well with the students. He emphasized that taking responsibility actually increases the power we have in situations. Another student takeaway, as noted in feedback the students gave in Advisee Groups on Friday, was, “People tend to give up, and this speech reinforced the message to be passionate even if it’s not always pretty.”

As well, we have had two DEI training sessions this semester (and the Goshen Campus had one, detailed in Reed’s article this week). Below is the text of an email from Brett Paice to High School parents that went out earlier this week; I copy it below in case anyone didn’t see this important information.

I’m Dr. Brett Paice, the Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Downtown Campus, and I’m writing to update you on recent efforts we’ve made to enrich the compassion and understanding of our community, specifically as it concerns individuals’ experiences of race and gender identity. With the help of facilitators Jaison Gardner, a local podcaster and activist, and Madeline McCubbins, a graduate student and activist, we held two training sessions where students and faculty were asked to consider issues surrounding cultural disparities regarding race and gender identity.

The sessions, held after our community service outings, blended full-school meetings and break-out advisee groups discussions in order to provide different venues for addressing sensitivities about race and gender, microaggressions, personal experiences, and means for advancing our shared understanding. We introduced models for how to deal with having difficult conversations about race and gender, providing positive scaffolding for mediating sensitive topics. Most importantly, we used these sessions to listen to the members of our community who experience oppression, allowing each of us to understand how persecution, harassment, and ignorance affect us all at a personal level.

The sessions with Jaison and Madeline and the attending small-group meetings strengthened our community. This wasn’t some brand of sensitivity training: this was our commitment to deepening our compassion and integrity. The students, faculty, staff, and administration took part and each group reported overwhelming support for the work we did.

I’m proud of our efforts and wanted to share with you our determination to make our community stronger and kinder. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the work that we’re undertaking at the Downtown Campus regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.