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The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

GEI: Practicing Cultural Diversity

Highlighting Bishops’ Global Education Initiative
Jen Jordan
An important part of GEI’s cultural celebrations includes integrating the festivities in multiple areas on campus. During the 2023 Diwali Celebration, the chapel was decorated beautifully with flower garlands, candles, and portraits of the Hindu deities.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” American writer and humorist Mark Twain once said. “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” 

This is one of Director of Global Education Dr. David Moseley’s favorite quotes. He explained that while traveling across the globe is a luxury that not everyone has, “the opportunity and privilege of being able to learn about the incredibly diverse cultural heritage of the many communities represented here at Bishop’s by our students and families gives us that chance to have our perspective challenged and transformed.”

Headed by Dr. Moseley, Bishops’ Global Education Initiative (GEI) connects our students, faculty, and staff through several elaborate cultural celebrations each year. Bringing more exposure and awareness to different global traditions to the School, GEI sets Bishop’s apart from other private schools in San Diego, allowing students to not only learn about diversity, but practice it.

Currently, GEI’s mission statement reads: “Think critically and mindfully about diverse cultures, worldviews and their place in the world (Global Awareness); Cultivate understanding, empathy and a sense of belonging within and among diverse communities (Global Citizenship); Act to address issues of equity and justice locally and globally (Global Agency).”

Global Education at Bishop’s began in the 2006-07 school year and was a group run by two past staff members — Mr. Max Robinson, a middle school History and Social Sciences teacher who loved to travel, and Mr. Malcolm Aste, a faculty member in the Advancement Department who served in the Peace Corps — and Dr. Moseley himself, a former grant writer for international development and humanitarian nonprofits. The three all greatly appreciated the enhanced perspective, multicultural awareness, and increased level of empathy that global experience had given them and wanted to develop a way for students to mature their globalized worldview.

“We thought of ourselves not just as American citizens (or, in my case, as a United Kingdom citizen), but also as citizens of the world who shared a common humanity with, and respect for, all the people and cultures of the globe,” Dr. Moseley said.

Alongside a beautifully decorated chapel was an opportunity for students to get up and learn some Bollywood dance to traditional music during the 2023 Diwali Celebration. The vibrant music created a welcoming, animated environment for all to enjoy. (Jen Jordan)

Dr. Moseley discovered a passion for international travel in his thirties while working at an international health and development agency and visiting and working with programs in India, Africa, southeast Asia, Mexico, and Central and South America. Former Head of School Mr. Michael Teitleman took a chance on Dr. Moseley and granted him permission to lead  a trip to India during his second year at Bishop’s, resulting in a Spring Break that was one for the books. 

“Twenty-five students and five faculty members spent two weeks in India at a shelter home for street and working children just outside of Delhi that was operated by the nonprofit I used to work for,” he explained. The group raised over $30,000 for the shelter home by the end of the trip (almost half of its annual budget) and performed a total of 5,000 community service hours. Since then, there have been five more India trips since 2008, most recently in 2019, raising over $250,000 for the program and helping to secure long-term funding for the shelter home.

GEI also formed a parent group, now known as the Global Education Parent Volunteers — “adults who are passionately committed to the mission of Global Education at the school, and devote their time and talent to providing opportunities for our students and families to enlarge their worldview and foster a community where all heritages and cultures are affirmed and celebrated,” Dr. Moseley said.

Ms. Lori Shearer (mother of Zachary Haubenstock ‘28) has been involved with GEI for two years, and immediately knew it was an organization that she wanted to be a part of. It’s a group that “consists of people who are warm, generous, and curious,” she said. “Global Education is crucial from a young age because when children learn about someone different from them it becomes less likely that they will form a prejudiced opinion,” Ms. Shearer noted.

Former GEI Parent Volunteer Chair Ms. Suzan Zau (mother of Allison ‘17 and Jonathan ‘19) agreed, “The most rewarding part was connecting with so many interesting, smart, funny, creative, and rich backgrounds of people and becoming lifelong friends with them. I still play mahjong, belong in book clubs, and even flashmob with some of them!” She added, “Seeing all those joyful faces of the students engaging in various cultural activities and telling each other how much they enjoyed them was a huge reward.”

Current GEI Parent Volunteer Chair Ms. Shu Fan (mother of James ‘23 and Henry ‘26) furthered these sentiments: “Through the meetings and the discussions with the GEI volunteers, I found that the values this group beholds are very much in line with the values I treasure: enabling young people to celebrate their own cultural origins, embrace the various cultures around the world and cherish the equality of all human beings.”

“The world today is closely connected and global issues affect our everyday life more than we ever imagined,” Ms. Fan shared. “Bishop’s students are lucky enough to get exposure to diverse cultures and religions and understand the interconnections of people and histories. This education helps our students build critical thinking skills, cross-cultural communication skills, and problem solving skills for social issues. With this tool kit, I hope our children can contribute to solving the crisis and conflicts our society is facing,” Ms. Fan concluded.

GEI is likely most known for the incredible cultural celebrations it organizes for our community to enjoy on our own campus. Bishops’ Chief Advancement Officer Mrs. Emily Hassig said, “The global potlucks and cultural/religious events that GEI puts on throughout the year bring people together in such a unique way — to share a space of understanding, respect and belonging. I always leave feeling inspired about what I learned and grateful to have been a part of the event. Not to mention the food is always outstanding!”

Bishop’s held its first guided Seder in 2022, chaired by Ms. Lori Shearer (mother of Zachary Haubenstock ‘28). Members of our community gathered together in the dining hall for a night complete with a narration of the great liberation story, plenty of matzo ball soup, and interactive and educational games, such as the searching of the afikomen. (Cathy Morrison)

In April of 2022, Dr. Moseley and GEI hosted Bishops’ first ever Guided Passover Seder, a gathering of around 150 students, faculty, and administrators, and Ms. Shearer chaired the event. “It was moving to see a diverse group of mostly non-Jews listen to our story of redemption and freedom from slavery,” she said.

Ms. Shearer’s son Zachary Haubenstock (‘28) — who was in sixth grade at the time — shone “with Jewish pride as he participated in the Seder,” she noticed. “About a dozen of his wonderful classmates set up the tables, and many other students helped by reading the Passover story aloud during the Seder. Truly heartwarming,” she said. 

“I was very excited at the first thought of doing a Passover Seder at Bishop’s. It’s great for everyone to learn and participate in each other’s cultures, and another Passover Seder is the perfect example of Bishop’s creating a successful tradition that immerses people in a religion that they may otherwise never participate in,” Zachary added. 

Similarly, Bishop’s hosted its first Guided Iftar last year, and Zayd Aslam (‘23) helped assemble the event. “It was a way of being seen on campus,” Zayd explained, “We initially got inspiration from the wonderful Seder dinner that the JSA [Jewish Student Association] hosted, and after observing the compassion that came from all the attendees, we felt the need to do something similar. After the Iftar event, it was [great to hear] all the reactions that the other fellow Muslim students had. “I could observe a feeling of compassion that the attendees held toward my culture and religion, something that I hadn’t seen before,” Zayd concluded.

“The Iftar event was extremely important to me and my community and I hope it inspires others to take on tasks of organizing similar events,” Zayd continued.

“I hope Bishop’s experiments with Global Education more to prepare their students with an abundance of tools and resources to interact beyond ‘the Bishop’s bubble.’ Bishop’s should seek to challenge their students with these different cultures, perspectives, and ideas so that their students can grow,” Zayd said. Ms. Shearer added, “I truly believe the GEI events of cultural sharing contribute to the hope and possibility of world peace.”

Mrs. Hassig concluded, “My hope is that the GEI programming continues to grow and that everyone, new members and existing, will have a chance to share their stories, heritage, or identity with our Bishop’s community.”

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Sydney Chan
Sydney Chan, Editor-in-Chief

Sydney Chan is an Editor-in-Chief for The Tower dedicated to discovering unique stories and bringing them to life through her pieces. She especially loves writing op-eds, covering the latest sports news, and publishing food reviews through her column, "Sydney's Suggestions." From dining at a great sushi restaurant, to watching her beloved Chicago Cubs play, to competing in Speech and Debate tournaments and Model UN conferences, to blasting 2Pac and SZA in the car, she's passionate about experiencing life to the fullest and aspires to lead The Tower with a similar aura, alongside the support of the publication's amazing team. Sydney is looking forward to another great year with The Tower and can't wait to share more beautiful pieces with the community.

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