Critical Conversations

Rector Kathy Giles
Building our common vocabulary
Good afternoon – thank you to the MISH (Missionary Society) leadership – we’re grateful to you for helping us find ways to be good and do good for others. And in thanking people for leadership, on behalf of all of us, huge thanks to Ms. Dalal and Mr. Brown for their work in the conversation with Professor Kendi yesterday. These kinds of conversations are critical for our entire community, and we need to thank both of them for the care, energy, and time they brought to this important work for the school. Thanks, Ms. Ludwig, for her care in creating the program, and the Visitors Committee for having the vision, months ago, to engage Professor Ibram X. Kendi for this conversation with us.
I also want to thank our deans, our heads of house, our LINC Leaders and prefects, student leaders, Dr. Ferns, and everyone who is doing the work to build our common vocabulary for important discussions around our values and, specifically, about antiracism. Our School values embrace antiracism, as we embrace honesty, equality, democracy, and justice, in the ways we build our relationships and try to educate each other – in the ways we sit across from each other in the chapel, which we all look forward to, or sit around the Schoolhouse tables, which we all look forward to, or sit around the common rooms or tables in the dining hall or in the tents – in the conversations we have based on our values of respect, kindness, empathy, and integrity, and in our recognition of and honor for the divine spark equally present in all of us. Because it can be hard, we have to try harder, and with the humility that comes with making mistakes and feeling awkward and uncomfortable comes some wisdom that helps us grow.
This is why we are together today, October 1, 2020. We need to be together to do this kind of important learning from each other. We work together to educate each other to understand the world. We are a uniquely, intentionally diverse group of people who come from all over to learn about and educate each other, based on these shared values, to respect and understand each other here first; and then take those understandings and those skills as we turn to trying to understand and work with and make meaning in the world. Maybe as never before, or at least since trips to town became common decades ago, we are all here together, in the quasi-COVID-bubble, and the relationships we build have never been important in the same ways as they are now to us.  
We come together, from all over the world, to learn from each other, and, as Dr. Kendi noted, none of us will get it perfectly right, and all of us will always be working on being better – better people, better students, better friends, better citizens. Chapel gives us an opportunity to pause to do that work, but it takes more than scheduled chapels to do it well and make it part of us and our daily lives. I hope the House Meetings on Friday will give us another opportunity to learn from each other and educate each other in these important ways, knowing that it will not go perfectly and that the work is important and ongoing.



Recent News

Scholarship. Leadership.
Character. Community.
©2021 St. Paul’s School. All Rights Reserved.