On Monday afternoon, Upper School students and colleagues attended a collection in the Pearl Street Meeting House to discuss the conflict between Israel and Hamas. To say it was powerful would be a tremendous understatement.
The collection was led by Interim Head of Upper School, Daniel Paccione; our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, Dr. AnaMaria Correa; History Teacher, Brian Tridgell; and BFS’ Director of Global Civic Engagement and Social Impact, Kevin Murungi.
At the start of the collection, Daniel introduced two very important truths: 1) Holding two opposing thoughts in our heads at the same time is the hardest and most important skill, and, 2) Embracing the messy gray is crucial to making informed choices, growing in our relationships, and producing good work. The concept of being “more curious than certain” is one that was stressed as being a critical part of digesting this—and other—world crises.
It is important to note the interdisciplinary work done by so many colleagues and students in the BFS community—work that Dr. Correa refers to as, “cross-stakeholdership.”
“I have been sitting in reflection about this for many weeks now,” Dr. Correa said, stressing the importance of making space for one another and taking care of ourselves.
One of the groups who has been deeply invested in this work are our Upper School History teachers, represented at the collection by Brian Tridgell, who has first-hand, personal knowledge of things that have gone on in this region. Brian stressed the importance of understanding that Hamas’ actions do not represent the views and values of all Palestinians and Muslims, just as the Israeli government’s actions do not represent the views and values of all Israelis and Jewish people.
“We need to avoid speaking and thinking in generalizations,” Brian said after showing a powerful and informative short film which framed the history of the region. “This topic is fraught and complex and we need to talk about it. We cannot become numb and indifferent to the suffering of others. The history department is here for you. So are our affinity group and our wonderful counselors.”
At the end of the collection, Kevin Murungi commended everyone in the Meeting House for their encouragement and engagement. “You all listened thoughtfully, carefully, intently,” he said. He then spoke about Human Rights Day, which takes place on Saturday and will be the topic of the Upper School collection on Monday. “We will focus on peace and conflict resolution because it’s who we are,” Kevin said.
At day’s end, upon reflecting on the Upper School collection, Head of School, Crissy Cáceres, shared, “Seeing the results of colleagues thoughtfully working together to cultivate a space of deep connection and shared learning for our students was moving. I am reminded of the importance of continuing to intentionally intersect our school’s values to the world and insisting that they can be realized. BFS is a space of learning and care. Today, I witnessed this truth along with sincere partnership in support of our students, and it made me wish with everything in me that all students around the globe could experience the same. For now, we will simply continue to work to be the most courageous, inclusive, and kind version of ourselves that we can be.”