"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Day of Concern

16 Workshops to Explore, Engage & Transform

On January 7, Upper School students, faculty and staff participated in Friends’ annual Day of Concern, which focused on this year’s academic theme: American Landscape: Explore, Engage, Transform. The annual Day of Concern, spearheaded by the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice (CPEJ), aims to examine a wealth of issues affecting society from various perspectives with the hope of encouraging more thoughtful and empathetic solutions. The Upper School dedicated the day to examining areas on both a local and international level through a series of workshops facilitated by outside experts or Friends students and faculty. Our world is profoundly affected by homelessness and climate change, the rise of fascism, and educational equality and immigration policy. The need for empathy and ethics in our personal responses are more critical than ever.
The day began with renowned Colombian-American poet Carlos Andres Gomez, who injected a bit of humor into the morning session with honest reflections on manhood, identity, flaws, cultural expectations and how politics is shaping our society. He tackled a range of everyday elements from how race plays a role from college relationships, applying for an apartment, to being pulled over by police. His poignant stories on stereotypes invited and challenged his audience to look at themselves, their own stories and how they engage with others.
The closing session at the end of the school day featured a film viewing and discussion — facilitated by students — with Catherine Gund, a Friends Parent and the Founder and Director of Aubin Pictures. She was joined by Arielle Knight, Associate Producer and Impact Coordinator at Aubin Pictures. They featured two episodes from Dispatches From Cleveland, a powerful documentary that examines one of the most racially divided cities in America in the wake of the police murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November 2014. Rice was fatally shot by police because they believed he had a gun, though it turned out to be a toy. The film dissects who in our political system holds the power, how it is abused, and the importance of voting and community organization to fight social and political apathy. With this, Knight explains that while “helplessness can overwhelm you” we “can find power in the collective.” While the need for comprehensive, broad-based criminal justice reform is essential, changing hearts and minds starts at home. Gund stressed that “there is no justice without empathy.” Following the screening, student hosts interviewed Gund and Knight before a Q&A session with the audience.
Between the sessions, the Day of Concern hosted a number of breakout workshops facilitated by thought leaders, mentors, faculty and staff. The titles of those workshops include:
  • Homelessness In NYC Is Sort Of What You Think It Is...And Mostly It Isn’t
  • If Not Now Tell Me When—A Discussion on American Anti-Semitism in 2019
  • Implicit Biases—What Do The Tests Show?
  • NYC's Future in a Time of Climate Change
  • Raising Awareness and Changing Perspectives: Four Health Issues that Affect our Country and Community
  • The Rise of Fascism at Home and Abroad
  • Educational Equity and Immigration Policy
  • Landscapes of Struggle: LGBTQ+ Rights and the Fight for Justice
  • Listen Up! Using Playback Theater to Explore Hate Speech and the #metoo Movement
  • Reimagining Gender: Beyond Socialized Roles, Beyond the Binary
  • Human Rights and Borders
  • Women’s Rights, Intersectionality, and the “Problem” of Difference
  • Prisons: Education, Reform, and Reintegration
  • Understanding Muslim Experiences and Combating Anti-Muslim Bias
Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.

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