As part of this year’s three-part Diversity Forum Series, the Cushing community welcomed Crissy Caceres, Assistant Head of School for Equity and Social Impact at Georgetown Day School (Washington, DC) on Oct. 18-19. An educational leader in the field of social justice and inclusivity, Ms. Caceres kicked off her visit with discussions on personal reflection and identity development in an all-school assembly. The next day, she engaged the community in an exercise aimed at creating connections and points of affinity, and fostering comfort in truth-sharing.
During a silent movement activity, Ms. Caceres organized students and faculty in concentric circles around the basketball court in Heslin Gymnasium. She then invited people to silently step forward to the center of the floor if they identified with particular categories she named, and to take note of who was inside the circle and who was outside the circle. Categories ranged from religion to race, sexual identity, financial resources, physical challenges, and family structure.
“This exercise is not designed for comfort, but for sharing the truth and learning new things about ourselves and one another,” said Ms. Caceres. “It’s about increasing our collective consciousness; moving, reflecting, and connecting simultaneously with members of the community.” She commended participants for stepping forward and sharing pieces of their identity in an environment that felt safe. “Take today as a gift from one another as you identify points of affinity among yourselves.”
Said Tommy Balboa ’17, “Ms. Caceres helped me understand that people can be diverse in ways that are different from their physical appearance. I always knew that our school was diverse, but I had never fully understood the extent of the diversity. During the activity in the gym, I was amazed by the amount of courage that people showed. They could have easily stayed back and not let others know a part of their identity; however, they chose to distinguish themselves, and this is nothing short of admirable. Ms. Caceres’ presentations were uncomfortable in a way, but enriching at the same time.”
The goal of this year’s Diversity Forum Series is to engage the community in ongoing dialogue about identity and social justice, and to build a common language, common experience, and connections. Said Ms. Jessica Devin, Cushing’s Diversity Director, “Ms. Caceres helped our students and faculty think about how they identify themselves and how their stories shape who they are. Participants were exposed and vulnerable during the activities. But at the same time, those activities challenged us to think about the different parts of who we are as individuals and as a group, and to see the connections around us.”