“This is an experience to have open minds!” – That was the advice of Welcome Ceremony speaker Karith Foster as students began day one of their TFAS Journey on Monday, June 4, 2018.
More than 350 young leaders from across the U.S. and around the globe gathered at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus to hear Foster’s fitting remarks encouraging students to ask questions and engage in discussions rather than taking everything to an extreme of offense or judgment.
“I’m here today to talk about diversity, but maybe not in the way you’re used to,” began Foster. “Today, we’re going to focus on inversity.” Inversity, Foster explained, is about being introspective, looking inside of ourselves and seeing how we can relate even when we disagree. Foster asked students to reject the divisive forces of society and instead connect with one another under the umbrella of humanity by following her four C.A.R.E. steps:
- Conscious Empathy – Put yourself deeply in someone else’s position so you can understand their perspective.
- Active Listening – Take them time to hear what someone else is saying instead of focusing on your next point.
- Responsible Reactions – Instead of shutting down or ignoring generalizations, ask “what makes you say that?” and get the conversation started.
- Environmental Awareness – Break out of your comfort zone. Don’t surround yourself with only those who think like you.
This was Foster’s second year of leading the TFAS Welcome Ceremony. A humorist, motivational speaker and author, Foster founded the Foster Russell Family Foundation and the “Stereotyped 101” program to spread her message of free speech, inclusion and social change as far and wide as possible.
Her words set the tone for a summer centered around the vital role of free and open dialogue within institutions of higher education and the marketplace of ideas. In addition to Foster’s remarks, students will attend lectures and workshops throughout the summer that discuss First Amendment freedoms, their role in a free society and how students can be torchbearers for freedom on their own campuses and throughout their lives and careers.
During the Welcome Ceremony, students also received a pocket-sized booklet containing the full text of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. TFAS gives the booklet to all of its students as a reference of our founding documents and a symbol of the genius of the American founders and our form of government.
The 2018 U.S. summer programs class includes a diverse group of more than 350 students representing 33 countries, 43 states, as well as D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Be sure to follow TFAS on social media throughout the summer for up-to-the-moment information on our programs – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.