Each year at ISK, we celebrate International Day in January/February. It is a proud celebration of our rich diversity, often with over 80 different nationalities represented from PreK to grade 12. It is a coordinated event, with a Parade of Flags in the afternoon that the whole school participates in, followed by an after school Taste of Nations event hosted by the PTO. While the event is fabulous and promotes pride, diversity and how it makes our community special, some critique in the past has been the extent that it is a more shallow celebration of our diversity, only focusing on “Food, Flags and Fun”.
This year, I was looking to expand our celebration of diversity and identity beyond the International Day parade of our nationalities. Then, two 8th grade students approached me with a similar request: to expand our celebration on International Day to also honor the other aspects of our identity through student-planned and -led workshops. We ended up getting at total of 13 students and 13 teachers to prepare 4 different workshops to our entire middle school. See details below.
- To raise awareness about different aspects of identity and how it contributes to our community’s diversity
- To nurture an open mind and heart to expand our inclusive community
- To increase awareness, acceptance, and a sense of belonging
- Increase sensitivity about the impact of our actions and words
Preparation for Proud to Be Me Day
- Assembly January 16: Let students know about our special schedule, lay foundation regarding the purpose of the day.
- Enrichment Time January 23 – Identity and Acceptance Workshop: Our first session about identity and acceptance, focused by grade level. Breaking down prejudice and raising awareness about identity.
|Proud to Be Me Day — January 25, 2018|
|9:15-9:45||Workshop Session #1|
|10:00-10:30||Workshop Session #2|
|10:45-11:15||Workshop Session #3|
|12:00-12:30||Workshop Session #4|
|12:45-1:30||Advisory Debrief – then prep for Parade of Nations|
|2:00-3:20||Parade of Nations|
|3:30-5:00||Taste of Nations|
Essential: need to establish ground rules so that everyone feels safe.
Each grade is broken into 4 groups and rotate through 4 different workshops.
- 6th grade has 4 groups
- 7th grade has 4 groups
- 8th grade has 4 groups
There are 3 workshops of each topic happening at the same time. 12 total workshops at any given time. Each of the 12 presenters gives their presentation 4 times throughout the day.
Inclusion everywhere and every day. This group hopes to advocate for all of the different ways people think and learn. Student and teacher presenters will create empathy, acceptance, and understanding through hands-on activities that promote all types of learners in our school.
This workshop will examine gender stereotypes for both boys and girls. Students will also explore the topic of gender equity and look for opportunities to break down generalizations and biases.
This workshop will raise student awareness about racial identity. The big takeaways students are hoping for are:
- Students will understand that we shouldn’t make assumptions based on appearances;
- Race identity is complex, especially in our globalized setting and international schools like ours, where we have many mixed-race students;
- Students will understand the dangers of generalizations and stereotypes; and
- We will acknowledge what is okay and what is not okay; looking for how to ensure we are not offensive and understand the impact of our language and actions.
This workshop will raise awareness about LGBTQ and the power of our words/actions. It will also seek to increase acceptance and respect. Students will uncover stereotypes, offensive language and also understand that the conversation about sexuality is still evolving in some counties, like Kenya.
It was a fantastic day and a great way to start conversations about identity, acceptance, raise awareness, and seek ways to expand our inclusion and sense of belonging. Check out some of these great ‘takeaways’ from students from one of the workshops.