Category Archives: Cultural Identity Event

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.

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Cultural Identity Speech

Presented during a Cultural Identity Event on February 9, 2012 in Williston Northampton School’s Cox Room.

By Yoonji Kim ’15

I have had many valuable experiences throughout my fourteen years of life. Because I love to travel, I’ve been to distant countries that most children my age do not desire to visit.

My trip to India stands out in my memory. I went to India with my mother when I was in the fifth grade. At that time, I had never experienced or known about people in need. I merely thought that, in India, a lot of conflict occurred because of religious tension with Pakistan. When I first arrived in India, the noxious smell of the river and streets was overwhelming. Therefore, due to the poor environment, I thought a lot of children didn’t have a proper education.

After I visited an Indian school, my thoughts totally changed. Despite the steamy, hot weather, students were studying on the floor without any desks or fans. Children ranging from ages five to fifteen were studying math together in a dingy classroom. Even more surprising was the fact that no one was complaining about his or her environment. From their eyes, which gleamed with the joy of learning, I could feel that they were hungry for knowledge.

Because of this experience, I realized two things. First, we can experience happiness because of our circumstances. Second, we can also find joy within ourselves. This means that not only the things around us bring happiness and satisfaction, but also simply our choice to be happy can give us great pleasure. Due to these reasons, my trip to India was the turning point of my life.


CID: Erin Davey

Presented by Erin Davey during a Cultural Identity Event on January 13, 2012 in Williston Northampton School’s Cox Room.

No Difference
by Shel Silverstein

Small as a peanut
Big as a giant,
We’re all the same size
When we turn off the light.
Red black or orange,
Yellow or white
We all look the same
When we turn off the light.
So maybe the way
To make everything right
Is for God to just reach out
And turn off the light!

A favorite writer and philosopher of mine and so many others, Shel Silverstein, had his priorities aligned in such a fashion that one may not recognize where and when his most important life lessons were staring you in the face. On one page he speaks of a “Flying Festoon” while on another he speaks of a little boy and an old man conversing over their common troubles. How and when are we to understand or recognize when some of life’s most influential teachings are searching for us to find their meaning?

While lacking a persuasive religious analysis to Silverstein’s poem, No Difference, I can certainly speak to its ability to hold true in my life and even yours. While we are consistently faced with cultural conformity and societal norms, we are more often presented with difference. The only problem lies within our own abilities to not just acknowledge them but to appreciate them. I was once victim to such naivety.

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CID: Hannah Lee ’15

Presented by Hannah Lee ’15 during a Cultural Identity Event on Friday, January 13, 2012 in Williston Northampton School’s Cox Room.

I went to Canada at the start of 6th grade, by myself, as a homestay student. For those who don’t know, being a homestay student means that I live with another Canadian family in a house while my parents are still back in Korea. I spoke literally no English at that time.

This transfer from Korea to Canada, home to an unknown world, and family to strangers was a very, very tough one. I remember my first few days in Canada, when I didn’t even have enough confidence to get homesick, when I was too nervous to cry or complain. The blurring moments of confusion for the first few weeks is still unimaginable. I couldn’t call my mom because I didn’t know where the phone was in the house, and couldn’t generate that simple question, “Can I use the phone?” to this foreigner living with me. I could never get used to the food always so cheesy and greasy. Cold milk in the morning made my stomach hurt all day.

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