Creating a Culture of Dignity and Empathy
The Global Initiatives Program has become an integral part of the Trinity Valley School education. It is much more than an occasional lesson or elective class. As these Web pages indicate, Global Initiatives can be found in all grade levels and in and out of the classroom. In doing so, we strive to create a culture of dignity and empathy within this community and beyond.
Global Initiatives at TVS tend to begin with knowledge—of other cultures and people. We move beyond basic knowledge and provide experiential learning opportunities for our students by blogging and Skyping with students in other countries, traveling abroad, and hosting international students and adults in our homes and on campus. These exchanges develop our knowledge of other ways of life as well as create emotional connections that make the learning experience more valuable and long-lasting. Most importantly, experiential or immersive learning examples such as these help our students learn empathy for other human beings (even people they may never meet in person) and understand why it is important to treat others with dignity. Both empathy and dignity are values that take time to develop. Our Program offers frequent opportunities for students of all ages to consider—and embody—these values.
According to Harvard Professor Dr. Donna Hicks, “Dignity is an internal state of peace that comes with the recognition and acceptance of the value and vulnerability of all living things” (Dignity 2011:1). Further, she argues that the difference between dignity and respect is that the former is a “birthright” and “an essential aspect of our humanity” (6, 28), and the latter is earned. The culture we are trying to create at TVS is one in which our community members begin and maintain relationships with the understanding that we should treat others with dignity. In doing so, we foster an awareness that we are all part of something greater than ourselves, and we begin to recognize our human connectedness. For more on DIGNITY, please follow my blog at tvsglobal.wordpress.com.
Humans will disagree. How we disagree, how we explain ourselves, and how we treat others makes all the difference in whether we can disagree without losing trust, respect, and dignity of one another. We are connecting our students with people from all over the world so that they can experience what it’s like to agree and disagree with people from diverse backgrounds without violating each other’s dignity. It’s about more than just knowledge; it’s about creating a culture.
I invite you to browse the Global Initiatives Links or visit my blog about dignity to learn more about how we are creating this culture.
Dr. Michael Roemer
Director of Global Initiatives
Think about it.
Talk about it.