Lower School

Embracing Nuance to Respect Different Perspectives

Throughout May, the United States honors Jewish American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and AAPI Heritage Month, which is the official name celebrating the broad diversity of people and contributions from across the Asian diaspora. I’ll note that in the affinity-based educational circles of which I am a part, we increasingly use the acronym APIDA. If you’re interested, you can read more about the acronym APIDA, among others, here! Of course any single acronym cannot hope to fully encapsulate the many varied and unique identities within a hugely diverse geographic region; these names and groupings are inherently political and part of an ever-evolving dynamic process of self- and group-determination… but certainly the intentional act of continually revisiting our language and what we convey with our words is an admirable and important part of being a community centered on belongingness and inclusion. So this month and all months at CAIS, we uphold and celebrate the many identities that make our school and our country the rich, diverse community that it is, with a particular focus on the contributions of Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian change makers.

Among the many important skills we teach at CAIS Lower School, we consider it our responsibility to offer our students an environment that allows them to engage in important, brave conversations with people whose perspectives differ from their own. I recently had the honor of serving as a judge for the annual fifth grade debates, the context for which is, “In an increasingly polarized society, it is important for us to learn how to engage in dialogue where we value different perspectives and see debate as a tool that can lead to new questions and a deeper understanding about an issue.” Most impressive of all to me was the final segment of the debate, in which, after having articulated their points, supported their ideas with evidence, and rebutted the opposing sides’ arguments, each side offered a reflection. The reflections, delivered so poignantly by a representative from each team, articulated what they had learned and taken to heart from the opposing side, how they related to our school community and the world writ large, and how we might all do well to deeply consider the nuance inherent in any discussion where people from different perspectives with differing goals are coming together, in community. If we could all take a leaf from the books of our fifth grade debaters, the world might truly become a better place after all!

Kim’s Corner — May 2023


Many thanks to CAIS parent Andrew McClelland for sharing this great episode with me – KQED’s “Reclaiming Your Family’s Heritage Language, Even if Your Elders Never Taught You”. This episode focuses primarily on the reclamation of the Spanish language, but many of the themes and sentiments may ring true for many of our CAIS community members. Stories of yearning to connect with one’s identity, shame or embarrassment at not being “fluent” in settings where a heritage language is being spoken, the various social and systemic pressures and drivers that can make retaining two languages challenging in the US, and “the pain of lives you never got to live, but might have, had things gone differently…” are covered in this lovely, poignant episode.


About a month ago, the publishing and children’s literary world was abuzz over a controversial move by industry dominant Scholastic, in which they required one of their authors, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, to omit all mentions of racism in her upcoming book Love in the Library as a precursor to having it approved for licensing and publishing. Popular children’s author Kelly Yang, whom many CAIS families and students will recognize both from her many beloved books as well as from her visits to CAIS over the years, spoke out, calling upon Scholastic to “be braver” in this age of censorship pressure in an increasingly politicized, polarized environment. Hear more from Kelly Yang here, in One of Scholastic’s Best-Selling Authors Tells Publisher: “I Need You To Be Braver”.