In the world of current events, the word global is everywhere. It implies a level of cooperation and interconnectedness that is belied by news of wars, political groups, and neighborhoods where people are so polarized in their approach to issues that they cannot find common ground. Ultimately, our ability to transcend difficult and complex issues hinges on whether or not young people will be defined by their differences. One way to reshape their understanding of difference is to give children the opportunity to collaborate, play, and grow with classmates from different backgrounds. Given such an opportunity, children overcome their fear of what is foreign and establish relationships that accept and absorb differences, strengthening each child as they strengthen the group.
Friends’ Central School captures the promise of diversity, teaching students to embrace and learn from differences, while continuing to find ways to express their own views. As a student at Friends’ Central, I found that each day was filled with opportunities to discover and to grow, to influence and to be influenced, to inspire and to be inspired. The Friends’ Central community promotes creativity, collaboration, and cooperation, encouraging students to find their own voices while respecting the thoughts and opinions of others. Understanding and accepting that a willingness to learn from others is essential prepared me to enter a world of people different from me, but not beyond me.
I benefited from the 170 years Friends’ Central School has worked to create a community that is diverse and connected—all at once. My teachers understood the need to establish, encourage, and nurture individual identity as they understood that a strong and productive community required each of us to take an active part in the whole. Friends’ Central’s diverse and outwardly focused ethos created and continues to create an awareness of others and an expectation that thoughtful dialogue is the rule, not the exception. Students at Friends’ Central internalize these essential lessons and enter the world eager to realize the promise of diversity.
-Dwight Dunston '06, Coordinator of Equity and Social Justice Education at Friends' Central School
Photos of 2016 Diversity Conference by Chandra Savage '17