by Kelby Booth ’23
Gunston celebrated Global Awareness day on May 12, focusing on the theme Expanding our Perspectives and Exploring our Identities, and welcomed guest speaker John Queen!
Global Awareness Day is an annual Gunston tradition designed to expose the community to new cultures and spark difficult or even uncomfortable conversations with the goal of expanding our understanding and perspective on global topics and issues, while also creating better global citizens. Each year, a team of students and faculty from the Student Diversity Leaders Club pick a theme to focus on and this year's theme was Expanding our Perspectives and Exploring our Identities.
The day started with a warm welcome speech from Head of School Mr. Lewis. The speech focused on the varied political views of Gunston students, based on a survey conducted at the beginning of the year. He found that most students think climate change and the economy are serious issues and highlighted the fact that the younger voting generation is very active and this activism will enact change in our society and government. Mr. Lewis then welcomed Mr. John Queen to the podium.
John Queen, the president and co-founder of the Bayside HOYAS, gave an interactive presentation on how and why it's important to accept and support people. He started the presentation by stating three rules: Don’t Judge, Speak your Truth, and Be Respectful. He then got student volunteers to participate in a few activities and answer randomized questions.
“I really enjoyed the speaker. Overall, I think this school year has had some of the best speakers, between In Celebration of Books, Earth Day, and now John Queen for Global Awareness Day. Not only was his mission very inspiring, but his speaking style appealed to everyone and had all students engaged,” Ashley Escobar ’22 commented.
Mr. Queen was definitely a fan favorite! After he finished his presentation, the students went on to their first of three activities for the day including a diverse range of workshops and conversations happening on campus.
The workshops were split into three different categories: Self- expression/Self-care, History/ Culture, and Social Justice. Self-expression/self care workshops included rock painting, pronoun discussions, pin making, and stress ball making. History and culture included Kenyan food and culture, Asian cuisine, and Ethiopian culture. Social justice included conversations surrounding world religion, gender and the ocean, and election integrity in developing countries.
“I think we had one of the best workshop lineups this year which made for an entertaining day,” Sofia Angarita ’22 added.
The workshops were led by over 40 different students, and supervised by faculty. Student leadership is also found in the planning of the day itself. Sofia Angarita ’22, Ashley Escobar ’22, Lucy Bamford ’22, Isabella De Leon ’22, and Cy Johnson ’23 worked together to find a keynote speaker, make a schedule for the day, and decide workshops and their locations. Mrs. Coffey, Ms. Vesnaver, and Mrs. Grabis assisted the students in the organization and advertisement of the day.
“I really enjoyed working with this group of teachers and students. Working on the frontlines with Ms. Vesnaver and Mrs. Grabis made me realize how much planning these events take and how much professionalism each of them have,” said Ashley Escobar ’22.
It is also important to note that Global Awareness Day is right after advanced placement test week and allows for students to relax between tests and the senior transition day. Overall, Global Awareness Day is vital to the community, not only to learn about new ideas, but to also allow for students' voices and cultures to be heard.