During a thoughtfully designed on-campus field trip on Friday, eighth graders explored the idea of personal identity. The aim of the day was to provide students with a supportive setting in which to reflect on who they are as individuals and to consider how identity impacts our interactions in any community.
The day began in Kaneb Theatre, where senior Julian Delgado-Figueroa, an officer in St. John's Multicultural Affairs and Community Development Student Advisory Council, spoke with the younger boys about how he came to understand his own identity and how that insight helped shape the communities in which he immersed himself. More photos from the day on SmugMug.
“My name is Julian Delgado-Figueroa, but that’s just one of the ways I identify myself to the world,” he began. “Other aspects of my identity are being Latino and a Prep student. And then there are parts of my identity that you can’t see, like living in a single parent household and being lower income.”
Delgado-Figueroa told the group that discovering your identity is the easy part, but embracing it can be more harder. “Your identity is defined completely by you, and more specifically by the challenges in your life. My identity is absolutely everything to me. It’s what makes me my own person.”
He went on to describe experiences that have empowered him to use his identity for good, including a trip to Guatemala and his involvement with the MACD office at the Prep. “I’ve learned that you have to open yourself up to different perspectives. Understand where people are coming from.”
After these opening remarks, students fanned out to different classrooms for six, rotating, small-group workshop sessions that took place throughout the rest of the morning. The program was organized by Middle School social studies teacher Jared Rodriguez ’09 and Middle School student life coordinator Jessaca Michaelsen, in collaboration with the MACD office and faculty from grades 6 through 12.
"The aim of the day's program was for the boys to dive into the premise that each of us has had different life experiences that have shaped who we are and how we view the world," said Rodriguez. "Even more importantly, the goal was for them to better understand the need to value each other as being unique, and that only by continuing to honor the diversity that enriches this school community can we truly accomplish great things. Before any community comes together, the collective group needs to understand who the individuals are, and how those unique identities can help everyone understand and inform each other, and grow together."