Westminster held an all-school Diversity Day Jan. 30. The morning kicked off with a faculty meeting where Lisa McGrath, director of diversity and multicultural affairs, who organized the day’s events, welcomed everyone and introduced guest speaker Princess Sirleaf Bomba, an advocate for social justice and education for nearly 25 years.
Princess began her presentation on the topic “Our Cultures, Our Perspectives and Our Impact” by saying: “I will share things I have learned along the way that are more personal and not all research driven. I hope this will resonate with you.”
She involved faculty members in group discussions about race and culture. “Who is in our circle and who we are will shape how we see the world,” she said. She shared highlights of her career and stories about those with whom she has worked. She encouraged faculty members to “break the silence” by opening up more with others and reaching out to people of color. “Hidden identities matter,” she emphasized. She also underscored the importance of demonstrating empathy to success in working with students. “Sharing your identify will help you communicate with them,” she said. “Children only seek help from the people they trust.”
Princess is the director of unity and diversity at The Wheeler School, an independent day school in Providence, R.I. Before that, she was an educational services coordinator for the Department of Children, Youth and Families and began her career as admissions professional for Rhode Island College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree and an M.A.
Following the faculty meeting, students gathered in Gund Dining Room to sit with their advisory group. They responded to questions and played some games that highlighted how first impressions can be wrong and the importance of getting to know others in order to build a stronger community. Princess shared details about her life in Monrovia, Liberia, as a child, the violent coup in her country and how her “life was turned upside down” when she came to the U.S. She encouraged the students to tell their story, saying, “We all have interesting stories.”
Following the meeting of advisory groups, students attended breakout sessions conducted by peer facilitators and faculty members in Armour Academic Center on a range of topics related to introspection and reflection, identity and connection, community and society, and history and the arts. They then attended an all-school meeting in Werner Centennial Center, where Lisa thanked everyone for their participation in the day’s activities, saying it provided an opportunity to think about other communities. Two excerpts from the film “Girl Rising” were shown under the leadership of the student group All is One Feminist Alliance, and the day concluded with students meeting with their advisory groups once again.
Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students Westminster admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School; and Westminster does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered program.