You can’t pick up a newspaper or skim social media these days without encountering issues of race, in America or around the world. This week, on the front page of the Mercury News there was an article about Olympic swimmer and Stanford grad, Simone Manuel, who is breaking barriers and facing issues of social injustice. On the cover of the New York Times, I read about the controversial trial of the police officer who killed George Floyd in May of 2020. In the Bay Area, there are several articles reporting an uptick in hate crimes against Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the wake of COVID-19. And, around the world, people are discussing the biased treatment of Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and their son, by the British press and the firm of the Royal Family.
As stated in The Hill a few days ago, the US Department of Justice has pledged to address the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. As with any issues of racism or hate, it is important that as an international school, we recognize what is happening in the world and any potential impact it may have on our students or community.
Knowing that some of our families may be facing worries or fears, it is important to note that as a global community with many cultures, we take all issues of bias very seriously. We are committed to upholding a compassionate and accepting environment.
We also make this pledge in our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Statement:
“Silicon Valley International School strives to empower students, alumni, faculty, staff, and parents to understand, value differences, and celebrate diversity. Through an environment of respect, the INTL community is committed to inclusion, acceptance, and belonging, so all may live in a better and peaceful world.”
As an IB World school, we are charged with preparing our students to be internationally-minded. By creating multi-cultural awareness and developing the value of inclusion, we help students with a variety of backgrounds to be successful in whatever circumstances in which they may find themselves. We encourage acceptance and prepare them to thrive in a diverse world and workforce. That is the beauty of an international community and school, and in particular, Silicon Valley International School.
Below are some of the core values of INTL and ones that are embedded in our curriculum and community events. It is our hope that, given the state of the world, and the need for raising compassionate humans, that our students will be armed with the right characteristics to have a positive impact in whatever they choose to do in the future.
Diversity: a state of being diverse, a variety - the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds, and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
Inclusion: the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure, the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.
Belonging: an affinity for a place or situation, to be a member or part of (a particular group, organization, or class).
International-mindedness: " An internationally-minded person is open-minded about the common humanity of all people and accepts and respects other cultures and beliefs. An internationally-minded person takes action through discussion and collaboration to help build a better and peaceful world.”
Framing these values in respect to our efforts to foster cultural agility and global competencies, the school has begun the work of investigating our own unconscious biases and providing training for our faculty and staff, so they can thoughtfully incorporate our values into the classroom and our everyday interactions at the school.
For example, our DEI Facilitators, Laura Johnson and Joanna Monfort-Torres have been modeling lessons for teachers on sensitive issues. We’ve been conducting ongoing virtual presentations during employee meetings to create community-wide awareness about current issues relating to bias, inclusion, and diversity. The school is also creating safe and brave spaces for discussions on topics of identity, race, and gender.
The last example of creating space for discussion is probably the most important of all. As this work continues to unfold at INTL, we hope that you will join us in discussion and conversation, as well as in practice, to build an environment of respect and belonging for all at our school.