Sitting in the auditorium for the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly, the students were all gathered as a community to join and listen to Abukar, who graduated from Waynflete in 2013 and is now a senior at Colby College. As the former Poet Laureate at Waynflete, he began the assembly by reading a poem he had written about identity, entitled, Who Am I? His poem, linked here, explores the layers of complexity in each person’s identity. He then told us of his experiences at Waynflete and how he learned that each person has their own special and unique values helping him learn how to respect other’s differences. He said it is important to take a moment to step into one another’s shoes, hear what they say and understand why they see the world as they do.
Later Abukar spoke of his internship this past summer at MPBN and how he was tested when covering a Trump rally. Abukar, as an East African Muslim immigrant, grew up with many different values than the people he met at the rally. In a way, covering the rally as a journalist was a test of how he could handle people of different beliefs. Abukar emphasized that finding the balance point of saying one’s own opinion without offending others and listening is crucial to learning.
A video of his full talk is linked here.
Prior to Abukar speaking, the Upper School chorus sang Blowing in the Wind, a song that Peter, Paul, and Mary sang before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech in 1963. In addition, Lindsay Kaplan and Juanita Nichols, members of the faculty Diversity and Equity Committee, announced that the winner of the annual Spirit of MLK award was Riley Mayes ‘18. Her winning essay is linked here.
For me personally sitting as an audience member, I took away the feeling of community versus myself. I’ve never really taken the time to acknowledge this as a big part of it, but I realized that they are equally important. Abukar’s experience through learning about himself through the eyes of others and finding out about the hate in the world was truly a wake-up call for me. His experience opened my eyes to see that there is always more than one perspective. We sometimes choose single-mindedness instead of opening ourselves up, making ourselves vulnerable to see the different views of our world. I think the misinterpretations and ignorance of each other are what creates conflict. Lives and perspectives would be transformed if people stood in another’s shoes for even a day. If we came together, no matter our opinions, and listened to others’ needs, the world would change for the better. Society is growing and we need to notice it’s changing and do what we can to make our lives and the future become better.