Breaking Down Barriers and Shattering Stereotypes

15 Sep 2017
ByAkim St Omer

Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Swain County High School in North Carolina, two visionary schools in geographically and politically diverse parts of the country, are joining forces for a year-long project under the auspices of Narrative 4 (N4), a global organization that uses the power of personal stories to build empathy and spark collaborative change.

Ten students from each school have been selected to participate in the program. Representing Fieldston are Willa Ferrer '19, Birk McCaffrey '19, Amir Mustefa '19, Olivia Murray '19, Malakai Hart '19, Jael Strell '19, Leilani Fletcher '18, Max Schindel '18, Leora Shlasko '18, and Isaac Sonnenfeldt '18.

Dean of Student Life and history teacher Nancy Banks, an N4 adviser, noted that "our collaboration with Swain County High School and N4 will provide a unique opportunity for our students to undertake the work that is essential for the next generation to forge connections across regional, cultural, religious, and political divides. Together, we will make the world a better place. We are in desperate need of more empathy—now more than ever. I am honored to be part of an organization, and at the forefront of a movement, committed to transforming the world, one story at a time."

Two regional summits will highlight the project: the first is planned for the week of October 8 in New York City, the second in Bryson City, NC, the week of April 22, 2018. The October summit agenda in New York includes a cornucopia of tours and workshops designed to explore literature, history, music, visual art, and creative writing. The North Carolina summit will include a literary festival and several outdoor adventures, continuing and complementing the New York agenda.

Narrative 4 President, author Colum McCann, added, "This a fabulous initiative between two communities that seem, on the surface, to be wildly different. When they come together they expand the lungs of the world."