Lessons from this year’s International Day

Apr 30 2021

Lessons from this year’s International Day

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
–Margaret Mead

In a world that feels more and more interdependent, how do we help students develop a global mindset that prepares them for college and beyond? Perhaps last Friday’s International Day provides one way for students to learn the myriad opportunities and challenges that are awaiting them.

The day began in the Lower School with 3rd and 4th grade students’ pre-recorded presentations on a variety of topics from cooking to music that reflected their cultural background and traditions. The 1st graders performed songs in Spanish while 2nd graders made cameo dance appearances in a 9th grade Spanish song video. The lower school students were then treated to a reading by 2012-2014 San Antonio Poet Laureate, 2015-2016 Texas Poet Laureate and Keystone alumna Carmen Tafolla, Class of 1969, and co-author/ illustrator Regina Moya from their book ”The Last Butterfly/La Ultima Mariposa.” Students also performed songs from their classes. Here’s the link if you wish to watch it. https://keystone.zoom.us/rec/share/CBNCINrC9-Ej64EewmReXShVBU3DNfkWcZJoyszGym0e4bTz_OWzwZ8dC4PgWzSd.ZvYNgZhaTd00EZ-B Passcode: q7#%5JR7

Upper School and Middle School Students started their day with a sobering and inspiring presentation by Keystone parent and attorney/activist Shannon Sedgwick Davis on her work with the Bridgeway Foundation, an organization devoted to ending mass atrocities around the world. In particular, Ms. Davis spoke of the Foundation’s efforts in Uganda to repatriate children who had been kidnapped and forcibly inducted into Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. She shared with students a movie that was both heart-wrenching and uplifting.

Following lunch, students in the Upper School watched their classmates’ skits and performances via Zoom. Next, students chose from a variety of presentations by classmates, alumni, and outside guest speakers. There were a plethora of topics with seemingly something for everyone.

I attended a presentation by Keystone sophomores Lily, Quincy, and Stella on their work with the Global Nomad Initiative (GNI). This new organization devotes itself to promoting global connectivity, sharing and comparing stories from around the world, and exploring international issues. Students from different countries create curricula together with modules that reflect their reality. As the three young women explained, the curriculum is “made by students for students.”

Teens in the GNI program could choose to work on subjects ranging from sports to women’s rights to human rights to mental health. In the process of developing lessons, they learned about: ways that sports can bring people together; differing beauty standards from culture to culture; the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals; and how to eliminate the stigma around mental health issues.

Our students collaborated with peers from around the world and in the process learned a great deal. The Global Nomads program aims to expand education on global issues, offer a broad range of perspectives, and study issues that affect everyone. Hearing about their experience and seeing the product of their efforts reaffirmed how much our students have in common with teens in other countries around the world.

I concluded the day by sitting in on a session by Keystone alumna Doris White, Class of 1974. Ms. White told stories from her student days at Keystone, her time in college, and her work as an attorney in Boston. She described growing up black and female in San Antonio and the obstacles she encountered before coming to Keystone. She explained that there’s nothing so powerful as an organized group committed to a cause, and exhorted students to seek out opportunities for exposure to other types of people to lessen the fear of the “other.”

Ms. White then offered three lessons for us to remember:

  1. When you see injustice, summon the strength to stand up, even when alone.
  2. Find a group of common-minded people with whom you can work, and you will move mountains.
  3. Recognize the humanity in those you view as different and acknowledge what all human beings share in common.

As she closed her remarks, Ms. White noticed how much more diverse the Keystone student body is now than when she attended and how happy that made her. She encouraged us to learn from each other and particularly those people who are younger than we are. Ms. White wisely reminded us that we cannot necessarily change someone else’s mind, but we need to respect those people with whom we may disagree. As one student commented to Ms. White in the chat, “you are a great storyteller!”

Thank you to our students for sharing their stories. Thank you to the Keystone alumni and outside speakers for enlightening us with your experiences. And thank you to everyone who worked so hard to create an incredible learning experience for all of us. I left the day yet again impressed with the abundant resources in our community and even more hopeful for the world our students will both inherit and create anew.

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