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Focusing on Empathy

Westminster students and faculty participated in a number of activities during Diversity Day Oct. 11, including a presentation by Andre Bradford, aka S.C. Says, who is an Austin, Texas, -based slam poet who has been performing since 2013.
He is a two-time Austin Poetry Slam Champion, a three-time Texas Grand Slam Finalist and is the author of the upcoming book “Golden Brown Skin.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and marketing from U.S.C., and has toured at venues across the country.
Bradford’s one-hour show, titled Kintsukuroi: On Empathy and Other Things,
focused on the importance of empathy. He began by sharing his Jamaican and Mexican heritage and how he grew up in a nonculturally diverse neighborhood in Grand Prairie, Texas. The first poem he read was “Crayon Box,” which described what that childhood experience was like. “I let you in a little bit on my life story,” he said. “One reason I like the art form is you can see some of my circumstances.” He added, “We will go through a roller coaster of emotions during this show.”
He said empathy is “one of the most powerful tools we have to change the world around us.” He read a poem titled “A Kindness” and explained its background, and how it was a good example of how he made a snap judgement and the importance of learning a little bit about someone’s story.
He also talked about mental health issues, his own life struggles and how showing empathy could save a life. “The best forms of empathy are intentional,” he said. “Intentional empathy requires skill. … Empathy fosters pleasurable feelings. … Empathy helps to heal painful and psychological issues. …  Empathy is the active ingredient in conflict resolution. … I believe empathy is what we need to mend our pieces.”
He encouraged everyone to pay attention, tell their story and appreciate differences in life experiences. “If you want to change the world around you, start by trying to understand the people in it.”
He responded to a number of questions from the audience including how he got into slam poetry, how he builds selfcare into his daily routine and how he developed the courage to share his story.
Following his presentation, students participated in workshops that involved a deep dive into empathy through two exercises. The first workshop involved Third Formers and Fourth Formers, and the second involved Fifth Formers and Sixth Formers.

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