DEI Roundtable Reflections: An Energizing Evening

November 14, 2018

I woke up this morning to an email from a CAIS parent that said, “the diversity, equity, and inclusion roundtable event was great. I’m excited to tell my friends to come next time!” I was thinking the same two things—the event was terrific and I am looking forward to sharing such a great experience with even more people at the next DEI roundtable event (mark your calendars now for March 12).

It felt energizing and reassuring to be in a room full of people working together on building our muscle to have conversations about bias and race with each other and especially with our children. Rather than a lecture format, the roundtable provided multiple opportunities for parents and faculty to engage with one another in small groups around the evening’s theme of identifying and talking about our own hidden biases. Facilitators Britta Pells, Mary Antón, and Kim Kaz shared a TED Talk by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on The Danger of a Single Story so attendees could have a shared starting point for reflection.

I can only speak for myself, but I relished the opportunity to exchange personal stories with my fellow community members, and have constructive and honest conversations about stuff that really matters. I love how interactive and personal the evening was, and I am excited and grateful (befitting the season) that in this year of strategy making we have multiple sources of inspiration around important DEI issues.

Last night’s event came on the heels of CAIS’s acceptance into the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s “Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools” (RIDES) Institute. CAIS is one of six schools in the nation that has been accepted into this innovative, year-long, equity improvement program where we tackle site-specific equity goals with the support of Harvard coaches, resources, and frameworks. The goal of the RIDES Institute is to help schools with diverse populations in their buildings become more fully “integrated”—places where all children learn at high levels, feel included, appreciate their own and other cultures, and understand racism and work to dismantle it. Last week, a team of CAIS educators traveled to Harvard for the RIDES Institute’s launch. Our RIDES team is Larissa Hsia-Wong, Elisabeth Radravu, Chichi Su, Tiffany Long, Nia Womack-Freeman, Cassy Lee, Britta Pells, Mary Antón, and Kevin Chang.

If you see any of them around the campus, ask them about their work. If you know someone who attended last night’s event, ask them about their experience, and as I said at the beginning, mark your calendar for March 12 when we will hold our second DEI roundtable event. It’s a long way off, but I hope to see many of you there.