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Posted 11/26/2018 10:01AM
Reflections after Charlottesville and Barcelona
Posted 08/25/2017 02:12PM

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

--Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I am pleased to announce that the new school year at TASIS Dorado is off to an excellent start. Students and faculty returned from the summer with renewed energy and enthusiasm. As you may have noticed on social media, our students and teachers have already received recognition across Puerto Rico for their academic accomplishments. We welcomed 75 new families and are celebrating our 15th anniversary as a school, an important milestone!

At the same time, we are acutely aware of the turmoil in our world. Among other places, the news from North Korea, Charlottesville, and Barcelona (a city that many in our community know and love dearly) has been both shocking and sobering. Many hearts are heavy.

In times like these, the Mission, Vision, and Values of the TASIS School in Dorado take on special urgency. Our aim is to provide our students with a world-class education. Critical thinking skills, deep subject matter knowledge, proficiency in multiple languages, and adeptness at technology are all very important goals for our intelligent children and young scholars.

Yet, as a noted physicist has written, "Knowledge without compassion is inhuman; Compassion without knowledge is ineffective."

So, rather than withdraw into safe spaces, we seek "to challenge and nurture students... so that they become engaged global citizens and innovative, selfless leaders."

It is one thing to analyze and critique political leaders and problems, and quite another thing to engage with the world; one thing to decry the darkness, another to light a candle; one thing to have faith, another to put your faith in to action.

To become innovative, selfless leaders requires intelligence and character. For this reason, our academic mission is undergirded by "the values of courage, kindness, integrity, humility, and a commitment to building community." These virtues are necessary in combination in order to effect change in a hurting, polarized world. Kindness without courage is likely to be ineffectual. All virtues need to be wrapped in love.

At TASIS Dorado, we reject discrimination and bigotry, and emphasize unity, inclusiveness, and respect for differences--starting in the classroom through discussion and debates as well as on the playground through sharing and playing games. We are committed to "building community," which means resisting the tendency to become polarized and divided, even though we come from varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

A friend of mine, raised in Charlottesville, VA, but now working with the poor in Africa, wrote recently: "What is needed... is humility. Humility is impossible in a heart that is motivated by hatred of other individuals or groups. Humility is impossible when one is seeking to advance one's own position or agenda at whatever cost. Humility is looked on by so-called powerful people as weakness....

[Only humility] can change a human heart. And that is precisely what humility, when paired with love, can do.... Humility... listens to the other [person] the way I want someone to listen to me, cares for the other as if their life is worth something; works to find a way to resolve differences and conflicts to the benefit not just of one party over another, but to the benefit of all. Humility means being willing to admit when you were wrong. It's simply a life lived by the golden rule--Do unto others as you want them to do unto you."

People here speak of the "Dorado bubble." Indeed, we are blessed to study or work or live in this especially lovely and dynamic area of the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. But there is much healing, community-building work to be done in our local community, in our island, and in our world. Our students are our future and they are already finding hope and solutions!

Excellence: TASIS Dorado students have great dreams and aspirations—and are willing to work hard to achieve their goals. They are also applying their intelligence in innovative ways to solve social and ecological problems, for example. The Student Council's theme this year is "Go Green, Go Local!"

Humility: Our students make sacrifices of time, energy, and money to help the underserved and disadvantaged. They value our campus environment as a place where kindness and compassion are emphasized and carry those values to the places they go.

Engagement: Our students are engaged in a multitude of community service projects, from partnering with the community of Los Naranjos to caring for the homeless to volunteering at Hospital del Niño to restoring coral reefs to serving an orphanage in Cambodia this past summer, among other endeavors. A record number of students ran as candidates for various offices last week here in school; they understand the importance of voting in elections, the democratic process, and public service.

We have a lot to be grateful for and celebrate, in spite of the troubles and uncertainties of these times. Wishing you an awesome year of learning and growing!

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