Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Face It: Are there enough newcomers to the retreat each year to really discuss new ideas about diversity?


This school year was kicked off by the annual upper school Face-It diver­sity retreat. According to my friend and organizer Jasmin Harvey, the overnight seminar was filled with heartfelt dis­cussions, thoughtful insight on racial, socio-economic, and gender topics, and the exciting night games of a sleepover. Unfortunately, I could not attend Face It this year. Because of my busy schedule of SAT work, college applications, and schoolwork, I could only experience Face-It vicariously through the anecdotes of my friends.

The sadness I felt in missing Face- It made me reflect on the overall structure of the retreat. Because the diversity in­tensive demands 31 hours of the week­end, it puts a severe time constraint on the students that participate. Although the Marlborough faculty endorses the participation of the multi-cultural pro­gram, most do not make schoolwork provisions that would make the stu­dent’s load more manageable. Those reasons, and my mother, persuaded me to miss the retreat.

I know this time management issue forces students like myself, who love to share diversity, to miss the intensive for other obligations. Furthermore, the inflex­ibility of teachers to extend deadlines or excuse homework discourages the admittance of new members and further deter students who have not had the experiences from previ­ous years to encourage them to apply again.

Although Face-It is a fantastic retreat, this time issue can negatively affect Face- It in the future because it is affecting the support of the program. The purpose of Face-It is to spread a diverse awareness of the school community, but the retreat cannot achieve that if new members of the student body fail to join, because those willing to make time are often already ac­cepting of diverse backgrounds.

The school should provide an incen­tive to attend the retreat, like a no-home­work weekend for attendees, in order to pull new members to the program. If the same participants come every year, they will probably learn something new, but the goal of total community involvement is not reached. A no-homework weekend would encourage new students from dif­ferent grades to be exposed and hopefully head the program when the upper school students leave for college.

As an alumni participant of Face-It, I would like to spread the word about the great change they enacted in myself in two days. I want the student body to feel less pressured by outside obligations, and by creating a no-homework weekend for participants, students will be able to de­vote all their attention to becoming more accepting.

-Taylor '10


At Marlborough it’s easy for the students’ voices to get lost. Though Marlborough is a private school that embraces diversity, there are still issues within the school that need attention

Face-It, Marlborough’s diversity retreat invites everyone to combat this and speak out without judgment or punishment. At the retreat we discuss issues such as sexual orientation, race, economic status, political views, and religion.

I am proud to say that Face-It has been going strong for four years, and each year new students have participated, a perfect example of Marlborough’s evolution and growing attention towards tolerance.

I have attended Face-It for the past three years, the maximum amount offered, but this year was different for me. Although we did the same exercises, I had different emotions and opinions.

This year I was the senior, thus the leader. With this position, I had to sit back and let everyone else speak. In doing that I learned more about the other students and became enlightened by what they had to say.

I wanted to be that senior at Face-It who makes everyone feel comfortable and have fun and who reaches out to the younger girls to make them feel welcome.

Although almost half of the students at Face-It were new, the overall number of girls attending decreased this year. But even though not as many people attended, in a way, it created a positive effect.

With almost fifty girls, the space was intimate, safe, and open, destroying any fear of judgment and encouraging girls to speak out.

So while I am an advocate for diversity and tolerance and would like everyone who can attend Face-It to do so, I now know that a small group also creates advantages.

The one thing I would like to change about Face-It is the type of person who attends. At this point, most of the attendees are already advocates for diversity and tolerance and are ready to speak out about their issues and issues at Marlborough.

In future years, I would like to see those who haven’t spoken out, but who are curious about what Face-It represents – especially seniors.

Seniors are about to leave the Marlborough bubble and step out into the real world. At Face-It we learn to discuss and speak out on real world issues, and it prepares us to make changes in our community, and the world.

-Jasmin '10

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