By Clinton L. Carbon
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
The Office of Multicultural Affairs supports the efforts of D-E’s parent affinity groups for our Black/Latino, Korean, and South Asian (formerly Indian) communities. We have also added a Chinese Parent Affinity Group this past school year. I am working closely with these groups to raise their visibility and integration into the D-E community. Together the group leaders and I are working with the president of the D-E Parents’ Association, Stephanie Landau P ’13 & ’17, to foster better communication of affinity group activities, to find allies for affinity activities, and to find opportunities to share cultural information with the larger parent body. We have also begun to establish affinity groups for students. Our work with the National Association of Independent Schools and the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives underscores the importance of racial identity work in the development of and care for students of color. In the spring of 2014, connections were made with a number of D-E Black/African-American alumni in an attempt to actively engage them on campus to provide active support for the school — and a presence on campus as role models and mentors for current Black/African-American students. We are in the beginning stages of plans to do the same for East Asian, Latino, and South Asian students.
Definition and Purpose of Affinity Groups:
- Affinity groups are held in safe and trusted environments where people who share a racial/ethnic identity come together to build community, fellowship, networking, and to be empowered.
- Members may have additional cultural lenses that create a tapestry within the racial/ethnic group, adding more beauty to our community.
- One does not attend an affinity group out of interest or desire to learn something about racial/ethnic identities and/or experiences that are not one’s own. Affinity group participants speak from the “I” perspective.
South Asian Affinity Group Thrives
The recently renamed South Asian Affinity Group (formerly the Indian Affinity Group) had a banner year of events during the 2014-15 school year, which were bookmarked by their Diwali celebration in October and, in the beginning of April, the Holi Festival of Color (also pictured above, with Mr. Carbon at the forefront). The group is co-chaired by Vandana Arora P ’21 and Jasmine Jaswal P ’18, who say they took on the posts because they “both share a passion and appreciation of different cultures. Co-chairing the South Asian Affinity Group gave us the opportunity to share our traditions and heritage with the diverse cultural community at D-E.”
They believe that the affinity group exists to “promote and cultivate our culture and further develop the understanding/awareness amongst our school community of our traditions, special holidays, food, and customs.” Aside from organizing events and gatherings for both the parents and students at D-E, they also enjoy being a part of this affinity group because of the opportunities to hear different viewpoints and ideas from parents and students.
South Asian Affinity Group meetings are held every quarter, and as an affinity group, they also: meet with the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs; connect with other affinity group chairs; and meet with the Parents’ Association president.