The following is the introduction to Bob Carignan’s February 2, 2017 newsletter to the Riverstone community. To read previous Riverstone newsletters, you may link to our archives here. We invite you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
A few years ago, I remember teaching a unit on Persepolis, the Iranian graphic novel, and a student pondered what life would be like in Iran. As if magically, the classroom door opened and I heard “Hi Bob!” coming from a recent Riverstone graduate who had spent the summer in Iran with her family. So I gave her the floor to discuss her experiences and what life was like in Iran for her and her family. I remember the enormous pride I felt that we at Riverstone, in Boise, Idaho, had built an authentic international community in thought and deed that connected our kids everywhere. I am no less proud now.
We have welcomed immigrants, refugees, exchange students, and green card holders from throughout the Middle East and Africa, including most of the seven countries experiencing the current immigration and travel ban. In all cases, these students and their families made Riverstone a better place by deepening the richness of our community and widening the perspective of our students. Included below are pictures from our 2005-06 school yearbook, featuring our international students. We are proud of this tradition and of bringing these incredible students into our community year after year.
I want to make it clear where we stand as a school. Riverstone will continue to welcome students from around the world. We will continue to read and teach from a global curriculum. We will continue to give our students an understanding of the Middle East and the worlds great religions. We will continue to encourage free and open inquiry. We will continue to encourage critical thinking in which facts matter. We will continue guiding our students through difficult conversations in an atmosphere of respect.
These changes are already impacting our community. Please read this article from a major German newspaper concerning one of our graduates, Kat T (’10).
Places like Riverstone, places that strive to teach students empathy through a diverse curriculum including the study of global art and music are places that can serve as antidotes to hatred and ignorance.
Yes, the world is a difficult and complex place that can be dangerous. But, we need to stand for opportunity and understanding; optimism and realism can exist side by side. A disciplined, “liberal education” that is global in reach, asks difficult questions and does not settle for easy answers, encourages 21st Century skills like collaboration, celebrates diversity, and encourages understanding is the best way to prepare students for the most important job that lies ahead: being informed and responsible citizens who seek peace and make the world a better place.
Head of School