Published: May 17, 2017
n., The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
It feels like every day I have another conversation about how the state of our world feels divisive, strange, and somewhat disheartening right now.
I try to remind myself that there were key milestones in history where negative moments turned into movements that reshaped our reality in dramatically positive ways—the fight for civil rights, women’s suffrage, and the Arab Spring to name just a few.
We see distrust, uncertainty, fear, and anger playing out in our national conversation today. While at times it’s challenging to stay hopeful, I am encouraged by the individual people I see standing up to work for the greater good.
Inclusion is a value so ingrained in our DNA at Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School that, particularly at this time, we wanted to dedicate an issue of Voices to the topic.
The cover story, “Excursion Into Empathy,” reflects on the national mood regarding immigration policy by highlighting the recent crossdisciplinary study abroad program, “Immigration in Context,” which sent six of our students to Berlin to witness the refugee crisis affecting millions firsthand.
One passage captures the essence of the experience best: “People don’t immigrate to steal jobs or resources from another country, student Alma Garcia learned; usually they immigrate to improve their life. And sometimes to save it.”
We also share the story of Pacific Oaks alumnus Billy Truong whose family escaped war-torn Vietnam to resettle in L.A. more than three decades ago. And in “How We Play,” we asked the tiniest among us—the students at the Children’s School—to share how they open their hearts to strangers and make new friends.
While making efforts in the present moment, we keep in mind the long game. The fight for social justice doesn’t happen in one day; it happens over the course of generations. I believe we are embarking on the next chapter of this fight. Let’s let a spirit of inclusion be our compass, moving us forward even when the challenges seem too big or the stakes too high. By embracing strangers as we would friends—with open hearts and minds —we can create a ripple effect of hope and humanity in our spheres of influence.
Dr. Patricia A. Breen, President
Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School