The world witnessed new leaders begin work in the White House after a monumental inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, January 20. Students wrote letters to the President and/or Vice President Elect describing their hopes, dreams and expectations for the next four years. This exercise was part of the Conscious Communities programming in the Middle School and helps to provide guidance to students beginning to engage actively in social justice.
In his letter, Nelson Cordón ’25 wrote, “One issue that is really important to me is immigration. Although other topics are also very important to me, this one strikes me as a harder problem to fix because there are so many different steps. First, we have to let people exercise their human right of migration. Second, we have to create more jobs, so that American citizens, new citizens, and the undocumented do not end up homeless.” Read Nelson’s full letter and a letter from Radha Airan-Javia ’27.
Juliana Morrissey, Middle School Humanities Teacher, shared her reflections on Conscious Communities work and on this moment in history:
Can you briefly explain this Conscious Communities project and what you hope students will gain from it?
For the month of January, our Conscious Community time in the Middle School was dedicated to writing letters to the White House. Students could choose to write to both the President and Vice President or directly to one or the other. Our hope is that regardless of the turmoil that has continued to surface in the last 4 years, students can begin to look forward. This also provides students an opportunity to be heard and advocate for change that matters to them.
Why was it important for you as an educator to do this work?
As an educator I find it important to teach the whole child. This work with Conscious Communities provides all students with a framework to better understand who they are and how they engage with the world around them. For me personally, I know how valuable this space would have been for me in Middle School and I imagine there are students in Middle school now who feel the same. Being able to help prioritize this work for the students has been an absolute pleasure.
Why is it especially essential at AFS?
AFS is such a diverse community in many aspects. It is pivotal that we create spaces to make every student feel seen, heard and respected. By guiding students to have these conversations about their own identity and how that impacts them and the world around them, we can help to build a stronger sense of community. While at the same time, making students feel comfortable in a space to share their experience, ask questions and build relationships.
How have students responded to the First 100 Days assignment? Were they excited about it?
Students were definitely excited at the prospect of a sitting president and vice president reading their letters. More specifically, I think students had an outlet for their voices to be heard. Looking forward was a common theme as we were giving this assignment to students. Making sure students really focused on the changes they wanted to see in our country the next four years.
Some students took particular interest in writing solely to Vice President Kamala Harris. Watching the swearing in ceremony of the first Black, South Asian, Woman Vice president was nothing short of inspirational. I believe, for myself, that Kamala symbolizes a deeper change in how society views women, especially women of color in politics. While we have a long way to go, this is quite a first step.