Urban School’s Month of Understanding assembly dwells on home

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A painting by Caroline Yopes (’10) shows her idea of home

Emily Wen, staff writer

What does “home” really mean to Urban students? On Jan. 15, Urban held its annual Month of Understanding assembly. The theme was Urban students’ ideas of home. The yearly assembly celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and raises awareness about multicultural issues.

The assembly included student responses to a survey about the subject of home. The survey included both visual and written responses. The MultiCulti Team received about 122 photos, 100 of which were used in the final slideshow. The MultiCulti Team, which planned the assembly as well as other cultural events, decided to examine the theme of “home” so as not to exclude any particular group of people.

Ken Garcia-Gonzales, Dean of Multicultural Life, said that the theme was developed by both student and faculty members of the MultiCulti Student and Co-Curricular Diversity Committees. “We purposely tried to choose a universal theme so that all students could engage in the thematic questions and exploration,” he said.

Sophie Lieberman, who represents the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) on the MultiCulti Team, believes that the assembly was fulfilling.“We did what we needed to do: Share our peers’ responses,” she said.

Larissa Parson, English teacher, found the theme of “home” resonated with her. “I’ve had a number of different homes over many years,” she said, “so I have given a fair amount of thought to what makes a place feel like home.” Parson added however that “(some students) seemed to think the idea was silly, or that it wasn’t appropriate for school.”

Mei Li Isaacson (’11) had mixed feelings about the assembly. “At first, I didn’t think people were paying attention, because they were laughing at what was being projected,” she said. “But now I think that people laughing just proves that people were attentive. It’s just not exactly the reaction I wanted.” Garcia-Gonzales was not surprised with the assembly’s mixed reviews. “With every assembly, you hope that what you present and develops resonates with the entire school community,” he said. “Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but that is not the objective. The objective is to generate dialogue and create space to have conversations that we may not otherwise have.”

For the future, the MultiCulti Team is planning more events to continue the dialogue between students and teachers. Team members are reviewing student responses to the assembly so that they can make future assemblies more intriguing. The team also is in the process of creating new affinity clubs and scheduling guest speakers.

Editor’s Note: Emily Wen is a member of the MultiCulti Team, which is made up of 14 students in all four grades.