We don’t just claim to prepare students for a diverse and ever-changing world; we are constantly evaluating our programming, curriculum, and groups, and looking for new ways to expand our approach.
As a boarding school with students from all over the world, The Hun School is rich with voices of many faiths and cultures. Supported by a progressive curriculum and dynamic extra-curricular opportunities, Hun students explore languages, histories, economics, politics, and the social relationships between cultures.
Led by Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Global Diversity Otis Douce and the Cultural Competency Committee, here are some of the ways we do that:
Cultural Competency is one of the foundational skills of a Hun School education. We understand that creating an equitable campus community is an ongoing commitment that requires continual learning and ongoing assessment of our community’s needs.
We take seriously our commitment to offer students a curriculum that is broad and diverse. All freshmen take Academy 9, a class called: What Does it Mean to Be a Community? In this class, active listening forms a foundation for future Harkness discussions and humanities learning. Seminar 10, required for all sophomores, builds on this Harkness education and introduces students to ethical leadership and civic responsibility.
Students can choose to expand their education through NextTerm courses such as Women in Politics; Castles Made of Sand: Exploring Ghana; and Walking in MLK's Footsteps. NextTerm is a travel-based, three-week immersion experience for all freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Students can choose a course or topic that interests them and engage in project-based learning with real-world experts.
Hun students make excellent use of their Community Life period each week; often hosting speakers, activists, entertainers, and educators from around the globe. The Centennial Speakers Series has welcomed Congressman John Lewis, NBA player Jason Collins, musical group Black Violin, US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and the Dynamic Diplomats of Double Dutch.
The annual MLK Summit is a three-day workshop that takes place over the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend each year for Upper School students interested in gaining a better understanding of diversity and working toward social justice. The School hosts participants from Hun and area schools to explore various themes of personal identity before working toward a greater understanding of their peer and community differences. The Summit is led by student and faculty facilitators, who train with the School’s Cultural Competency Committee in advance of the workshop. The facilitators helped to lay important groundwork for safe and open discussions, including techniques for working through uncomfortable conversations, such as the art of mindful inquiry.
All Student Government leaders, team captains, and peer leaders participate in a full-day SEED training workshop. SEED (Seeking Education Equity and Diversity) is a national organization that works largely with gender and racial equity in schools. SEED trainings also give faculty and staff an opportunity to develop as classroom leaders to drive change toward social justice.
Girls' Leadership Programming is a large part of the boarding experience for girls at Hun, and includes the young women’s leadership cohort. A fledgling initiative, this two-year, nomination-only program connects girls with mentors and coaches from both inside and outside the campus community. The Bonacci Leadership Conference, held annually, partners with outside organizations to provide female athletes with leadership training. Past participants have included the Live Like Blaine Foundation and Julie Foudy Foundation.
Teachers, students, and even Hun alumni have attended the National Association of Independent Schools' People of Color Conference (PoCC), which equips educators with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in independent schools.
But our commitment to cultural competency is deeper than one-off events and programs; the entire Hun community is dedicated to learning from the experiences of people of color. From the all-school read (2020's book is Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brené Brown) to ongoing workshops, documentary and podcast discussions, and cultural celebrations. We are committed to hearing and learning from experts and others whose experiences might be different than our own.
Some additional programs in place at The Hun School include:
- Bystander Training
- Sexual Assault Training
- Facilitating Difficult Conversations
- Cultural Appropriation Training
- Anti Bias Training (for faculty and staff)
- The Hun Way, The Hun Middle School’s orientation program
- White Ribbon Campaign
- International Week and other cultural celebrations
- Annual Day of Silence
- College Counseling Affinity Programs for LGBTQI+, HBCUs, and Women's Colleges
Clubs like the Jewish Culture Club, Black Student Union, Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club, and Masala Club give students with similar backgrounds a chance to explore their culture and discuss issues that affect them. These clubs are open to the entire community, and give students an opportunity to ask, “Who am I?” Clubs meet on a regular basis during the school day. Even at the Middle School level, the Diversity Club grants students an informal place to talk about pop culture, identity, or any topic they choose. Discussions range from Jennifer Lopez to black hair styles.
“Research is showing time and time again that students report higher levels of a host of social emotional factors when they feel seen and heard by their peers and by adults in their schools. So we believe that it’s never too early to begin saying to each other that we hear you, we see you, and we want to know your perspective about tough issues because your perspective has tremendous value.”
-- Diversity Club Advisor Chantille Kennedy
In addition to the club time, there’s a programming series called “What’s Happening Wednesday” that affords these affinity clubs an opportunity to share their knowledge with the wider community. An example is a Black History Month Family Feud game, hosted by the Black Student Union. Clubs often host School-wide events, including presentations, games, and meals. Events such as the annual Diwali celebration, Passover Seder, International Week, and Hispanic Heritage Month lunch are some of the most-attended events on campus.
Diversity-based Clubs and Affinity Groups on Campus include:
- The Asian Culture Club
- Black Student Union
- Buddies without Borders
- Diversity Club
- Gender Equality Matters
- Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club
- Jewish Studies and Culture Club
- Masala Club
- Middle Eastern Society
“Diversity Club is really important to me because it teaches me not only what it means to be diverse but how to spread awareness and positivity about the different dimensions of diversity."
valerie n. '24