During our first Monday back on campus, Oldfields community members came together for a day of activities, discussion, and service projects to honor the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was a treat to have our Advisories meet in-person for the first time since leaving for Winter Break. Students who are still remote for various reasons joined in as a new discussion format was introduced--Advisory Circles. In the Advisory Circle each member of the group is given 30-60 seconds of uninterrupted time to share out on a particular topic. The circle moves from one person to the next and concludes with an open forum. We viewed three short videos on microaggressions, systemic racism, and the myth of race, after which everyone took their turn in the Advisory Circle. It was enlightening to listen in as each of our students expressed their thoughts in this new arena. As one of our students said “Microaggressions are real. Systemic racism is real. And it’s important that we have these conversations.” Whether virtual or in-person, the circles of students, teachers, and advisors were respectful and curious, opening the door to future conversations.
After the morning workshop, the community viewed the 2019 documentary Knock Down the House. This documentary was chosen to show how the work of Dr. King is influencing and inspiring People of Color to run for Congress and try to initiate positive change. Dr. King believed in a deep personal connection to the work of civil rights, and each one of the women in the film had a passionate reason for wanting change in our system. Based on the stories of the grassroots campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Amy Vilela and Jean Swearengin, this inspiring film followed each of these four women as they ran for office during the 2018 midterm elections, Knock Down the House initiated conversations on our hopes, thoughts, and fears surrounding the future of America’s.
After lunch and a few minutes of downtime, everyone geared up for an afternoon of service activities. Students and faculty were assigned to one of four stations throughout campus:
- Casseroles were prepared in the Dining Hall for Maryland’s hot meal program, Our Daily Bread. There were eight cooking stations and students enjoyed preparing spaghetti with meat sauce and mac and cheese.
- In the library students gathered to write letters of gratitude to local frontline healthcare workers and special supporters of Oldfields. One group of students reflected upon how good it felt to do something other than simply talk about the value of service.
- Across campus in the gym a group assembled personal hygiene kits with items donated by members of the Oldfields community for people experiencing homelessness complete with personal notes and messages of encouragement.
- In the science wing students learned how to make no-sew masks from tshirts. Students and faculty alike shared how rewarding it was to put intentions into action and to live out one of our core values, Largeness of Heart.
A candlelit path led the way to dinner at the end of the day,
a simple reminder of MLK, Jr.’s words,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.”
On behalf of the Oldfields community,
we hope that each of the days ahead serve as a reminder to lead with open minds and hearts.