“When students are encouraged to think and learn outside the box, not only do they become more involved in their education, but they have a learning experience that creates change”
— Jodie Woodruff, teacher at the MET School in Providence, RI.
The above quote played over and over in my mind as I worked my way through the activities and workshops at Boston International Newcomers Academy’s (BINcA) Diversity and Democracy Day. The program, a first for the school, was described as “a special day of workshops and learning to celebrate our diversity and educate ourselves about U.S. history, democracy, and social justice. Students will leave more informed, empowered, and motivated to engage and participate in their community.”
BINcA is a school in Dorchester, MA, where 100 percent of the students are immigrants who, collectively, speak more than 30 languages. I thought the mission and goal of the day was fitting considering the school’s own mission, and relevant to the current discussions on diversity, democracy, and social justice happening across our country.
The programming included over 50 workshops; the majority developed with student input or was led by students, and covered topics such as “Journalism and Activism: Asking the Tough Questions”; “The Election, the Constitution, and Civil Rights”; “Find Your Voice: Muslim Community at BINcA” (led by four Muslim students); and “ Be Strong, Be Tough: Labels Do Not Define You” (led by two seniors). I participated in three workshops that focused on leadership, activism and community engagement, and advocacy. There was a thread throughout the sessions; students were offered unique and innovative opportunities to self-direct their learning.