Dwight Global Community Holds Human Rights Week

By all accounts, Dwight Global’s first-ever Global Rights Week was a resounding success. 

The five-day long worldwide event was held January 10-14, and was attended by parents, alumni, faculty, administrators, students, and staff around the globe. 

Hosted by the Dwight Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Advisory Board, and created and spearheaded by Global Program Manager Koko Stella Lawson and Dwight D&I Coordinator Aldaine Wynter, participants joined in asynchronous discussions, personal reflections, and live events. 

Guest speakers shared knowledge and information, supplied resources, and initiated thoughtful conversations, all under the overarching theme of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Louisa Childs, Dwight Global’s Head of School, said the week began with discussion on the concept of Human Rights, and built on that beginning each consecutive day.

“Throughout the week, we built on earlier discussions by exploring global efforts to defend human rights and current conditions that impede rights. We ended the week with increased awareness of those who do not have full access to human rights–and an increased capacity to listen, learn, empathize, and advocate for them.  Bringing together members of our community to discuss these important issues helped us live our Dwight Global pillars of community and global vision.”

Highlights of the Week

“We wanted to recognize human rights all over the globe in all their varying aspects, including gender, health, education, and race, and move deeper each day into the discussion,” said Lawson. 

“The goal was to move past simply posting a quote by Dr. King on his birthday,” Lawson continued.  “We sought to get out of complacency and move into defining and discussing human rights and human rights abuses over time, as a community. ”

Monday, January 10 kicked off the event with two questions: “What are Human Rights?” and “Which rights are particularly important to us?”  Participants reviewed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30 Articles within it. 

Active asynchronous iCloud discussions and comments were monitored by Lawson and student leaders. English faculty brought some of the discussions into the classroom, or drew upon previous discussions. Other faculty offered extra credit for student participation or extension work related to the week’s events.

Human Rights Leaders Past and Present

On Tuesday, the conversations turned to “Human Rights Leaders, Past and Present,” with an invitation for the Dwight Global community to share about human rights leaders in their local city or country. 

Participants were encouraged to add  links to useful articles or videos, and share other inspiring human rights leaders in a Padlet group share.

Among those discussed were John Lewis, Civil Rights; Edith Windsor, LGBTQ Rights; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Indigenous Rights; Desmond Tutu, Civil Rights; Alic Paul, Women’s Rights; and Marielle Franco, Civil Rights.

On Wednesday, the Global Rights Week focus was “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and emphasized Dr. King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail.

On Wednesday, the Global Rights Week focus was “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and emphasized Dr. King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail

In it, he wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Global Rights Week participants asked themselves and each other to push out of ignorance and complacency into awareness and empathy by learning about current human rights issues around the world.

In moderated iCloud discussions, Dwight community members posted thoughtful comments on injustices surrounding homelessness, mental health, overcrowded city schools, outdated laws regarding trans people, and stop and search statistics. Many commenters provided helpful links to further information.

Part of the asynchronous discussion explored current global right issues, including: The Rohingya Crisis (Myanmar); The Uighur Religious-Ethnic Minority (China); Autonomy of Pregnant Women (Brazil); Police Brutality (Global); Refugee Crisis (Global); Violence Against Asian Americans (United States); and Violence Against Indigenous Women (United States).

On Thursday, the focus turned to Nigerian Novelist Chimamanda Adichie, whose popular TedTalk The Danger of a Single Story tells how Adichie found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Adiche says "A single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Thursday also featured a guest speaker: Sandra Soteriou, a former Dwight London parent and continued advisor to Dwight London. 

Soteriou serves as Diversity Engagement Lead for the Borough of Camden in London, UK.  She has prepared and delivered workshops and talks on unconscious bias, everyday microaggressions, inclusive recruitment and allyship, among other topics, and launched other initiatives in the DEI space.

Her talk gave Global Rights participants another opportunity to learn more about each other and build a meaningful understanding by fostering a culture of sharing, hearing, and learning from each other's stories.

The final event, on Friday, featured guest speaker Sean Farrow, a public defender with the Legal Aid Society in New York City.
  
Farrow has devoted his career to representing hundreds of underserved criminal defendants in various stages of New York’s penal system.  A graduate of New York Law School and Ohio University, he is a passionate defender of civil rights.  

“Sean Farrow's Friday talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and the history of injustice towards black people in America was incredibly powerful,” said Dean of 12th Grade Angela Rice, who teaches AP English Literature and Composition.   

“As I sat in the meeting, I could actually see our students' level of awareness and passion for change increasing right in front of me. I feel proud to work at a school that embraces the idea that these are the conversations we should, and indeed must, be having in order to be better global citizens,”  Rice said.

Sheila Hatch, Dwight Global parent and member of the DEI Advisory Board, summed up the week by saying:  

“While the timing of Global Rights Week coincided with the American commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it was important to the committee that our focus reflected the Dwight Global community and explored civil rights around the world.  We wanted to create opportunities for Dwight students to have a voice, to share their story, to be a beacon of empowerment.  As we move beyond Global Rights Week, our hope is that students will be inspired to take action in the communities and with the issues that resonate most for them.”