Diversity at AFS is one of our deepest strengths and resources and one of our most important challenges.
“Diversity and Inclusion” is rooted in Critical Consciousness. Critical consciousness calls for us to go beneath the surface and beyond myths—developing deep understanding and deep listening skills. This requires both internal and external processing, knowledge of self and others. It calls for us to examine the impact and interactions of individuals, ideologies, and institutions. Moreover, developing a critical consciousness dovetails with creating a Conscious Community. A conscious community is one that heightens awareness and expression, provides meaning and purpose, responds to human needs, reflects values and culture, and encourages and supports learning, growth, health, and well-being. Developing a critical consciousness and creating a conscious community is a result of Quaker pedagogy and practice, where every voice is valued and wisdom comes from the group. Learning is achieved through inquiry, reflection, collaboration, service, and respect.
Diversity and Inclusion work is our shared responsibility as a community; we all have a role to play. Successful engagement in this work stems from education, exposure, and experience.
For more information, contact Mikael Yisrael, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
The following principles inform our daily practice:
The curriculum, program and climate of the School must reflect the diverse backgrounds of the members of the school community, of the wider local community and of the global community in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, gender and ability.
Excellence in Teaching & Learning
Excellence in teaching and learning can only occur in a school community that honors the multiple perspectives provided by individuals and groups with a wide variety of backgrounds.
Role of Identity & Privilege
An understanding of the role of identity and privilege in society and in school must be intentionally built into the education of students and the professional development of adults in the community.
The curriculum and program of the School must foster thoughtful questioning and critical thinking about the historically inequitable distribution of power and privilege throughout the world, and must support students in understanding the impact of these inequities and in taking action to fight injustice.
Cultural competency is essential in developing a just and equitable learning community for all of its members; the School must commit necessary resources to provide learning experiences for all adults and students that support this.
A Just, Equitable and Inclusive Community
The work of creating a more just, equitable and inclusive school community must happen both on the personal and the institutional levels; the School must provide necessary resources to support both institutional transformation and individual self-exploration and growth around issues of difference.
For several years now, Upper School students from AFS have been teaming up with their peers at the Perkiomen School to host the student-led Mid Atlantic Regional Diversity Conference.
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Rebecca Macey, a senior who leads the Gender Sexuality Alliance, would be the first to admit that she has strong opinions about everything, and she isn’t afraid to express them. “I love being an activist,” she said. “I love being outspoken. I love when people argue with me because I love having an opinion and feeling like my opinion is the truth, but knowing there are other truths out there.”
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Ben Shuster ’17 was recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as the Grand Prize Winner for his essay, “Eyes Wide Open,” which he wrote after attending the Anti-Defamation League’s 9th Annual Youth Leadership Conference in October. The essay contest on “Exploring Diversity, Challenging Hate” was open to students from 46 schools who had participated in the daylong meeting.
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