On Diversity: All-School Assembly

Presented by Director of Diversity and International Student Coordinator Bridget Choo on September 14, 2012 during Friday All-School Assembly.

I am Bridget Choo, the diversity director and international student coordinator here at The Williston Northampton School. So what? What does that mean?

I would use the word kuleana to describe it. When Mr. Choo and I lived in Hawaii, we used this word because we both believed in a life of service. In Hawaiian, this word is used to describe your responsibility to the world. In Williston’s words, it is my purpose and my passion.

This goes way back for me—before South America, before Asia, or New York—all the way back to a remote land called South Hadley. When I was in third grade, my family’s home was condemned, determined unsuitable to live. We did not live in our own house again until I was in high school.

Telling my story was hard for a lot of reasons. It still is. Simply put, my job is to empower and invite you all to tell your story. Your story, which is part of the Williston story.

Our story.

Our story is complex. We learn differently, we have diverse physical abilities. We are rich. We are poor. We are black and white. It’s that—yeah, it’s that—and it’s life experiences.

We’ve had it easy and hard. We have had experiences that some of us can’t even imagine. We are wise beyond our years.

And our stories are:

Canadian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese. We are from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Hong Kong. From Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, the Bahamas, Russia, the United Kingdom, Honduras, Egypt, Jamaica, Barbados, Ukraine, Czech Republic. From the U.S., from California to the Carolinas, from Maine to Texas.

We have faith:

Judiasm, Islam, Buddism, Hindu, Christian, Baha’l, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Shinto, Jain, Confucian, Daoism, Native American, Wiccan/Pagan.

We speak:

Mandarin, Spanish, English, Armenian, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Italian, Cantonese, Thai, Polish, Ukranian, Hindi, Greek, Kazakh, Czech, Kinyarwanda.

We are:

Lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, allies.

This is just what I know. You just don’t tell me everything. But I wish you did. Imagine if you did?

I’d like to thank the faculty diversity committee: Sharon Davenport, Rachel Goldberg, Matthew KaneLong, Laurel Raffetto, David Saunders, Andrew Syfu, Kathleen Unruh, Emily Vezina, Erin Davey, Stan Samuelson.

Five college interns and Williston diversity and international interns have specific leadership projects. They have hours in my office. Come see them.

For Williston: Rachel Deena, Nan Ding, Maranie Harris-Kuiper, William Huang, Esther Kim, Jiwon Lee, Mimi Phillips, Emily Wang, Honna Whirty and Tina Zhang.

Yesterday, the clubs had an awesome showing representing your various causes and passions as a culminating project at the diversity conference.

So we invite you to tell your story. Look for us in the Cultural Identity Series and the Diversity Conference, including Vespers, Seder, the MLK Assembly, CID projects, Diversity Conference, and many different forms of community outreach.

The first meeting is today at 2:50 p.m. on the first floor of the School House.

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