Taipei American School stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and has begun to formally incorporate these ideas into professional development and student curriculum.
On Wednesday, March 24, all faculty and teaching assistants gathered for an important professional development meeting titled "Black Lives Matter: Why Should We Care? What Can We Do?: A Conversation on Empathy, Solidarity, and Action By Building Common Ground." The school has planned additional conversations on the same subject with non-teaching staff for later this spring.
Led by middle school history teacher and TAS alumnus Weston Cooper and our guest diversity trainer, Anthony Kelley, this seminar helped our faculty connect the history of Taiwan to that of the US, in particular, connecting the movements of Taiwanese identity to that of Black Lives Matter.
Weston Wang Cooper was born in Taiwan to an American father and a Taiwanese mother. He grew up speaking Taiwanese, Mandarin, and English. He attended local public school until 9th grade, graduating from TAS in 2008. After graduation, Cooper attended the University of Washington for his undergraduate degree, where he majored in International Studies and Cultural Anthropology, with a focus on race, ethnicity, and identity formation. He worked at Morgan Stanley before returning to school to receive his Masters in Teaching. Weston began his education career in the Seattle Public Schools before returning to TAS as a Middle School history teacher in 2018.
Anthony Kelley left a chaotic and violent childhood to become a successful college athlete, winning the Rose Bowl while playing football at the University of Washington. Turning toward academia and away from the NFL, he went on to earn a master's degree in Education Leadership and Policy studies. He worked at the University of Washington and later at Washington State University as Director of Student Diversity and Outreach. He now helps individuals and organizations realize their true potential through deep self-awareness and negotiating difficult conversations.
According to Interim Head of School, Dr. Grace Cheng Dodge, this seminar's primary goal was to introduce points of "solidarity" between Taiwanese and American history in a conversation that demonstrates how two people with very different lives find common ground through empathy. "If you do not know the extensive history of Taiwan and that of the black experience in the US, you also might not know how there are great similarities and parallels between the two," said Cheng Dodge.
She said that the administration had hoped to feature this event in February, coinciding with Lunar New Year and Black History Month, but she feels fortunate that the school could find a time this month to feature this important presentation, "in light of recent Anti-Asian violence, Taiwan's international isolation, and seeing how our community can be better informed about race relations and cultural competence."
Cooper and Kelley ended the presentation with a brief discussion of why actively seeking to find common ground with others by learning about them is essential to our survival.
This presentation is part of an on-going effort on behalf of the Taipei American School administration and its JEDI committee to increase awareness of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the school.