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AIELOC 2021 Summer Institute

By Rama Ndiaye and Nayoung Weaver
AIELOC 2021 Summer Institute

The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) organized its first-ever Summer Institute of five sessions in 2021. The series of workshops featured leaders in the international education sector. Dr. Danau Tanu, Darnell Fine, Angeline Aow, Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa, and Cynthia Roberson presented and facilitated workshops on each of their fields of expertise.

Participants’ anonymous feedback has been included from each session to provide an accurate depiction of the success of the Summer Institute.

Growing Up in Transit on Your Campus with Dr. Danau Tanu, 15 June 2021

The Summer Institute kicked off brilliantly on 15 June, with Dr. Danau Tanu’s “Growing Up in Transit on Your Campus,” based on her new book, Growing up in Transit. With the central theme of “Being Seen,” Dr. Tanu provided roughly three sections:

1) The Educator + Self-reflexivity

2) The International School + The Narratives

3a) The Student + Hidden Curriculum

3b) The Tools & Concepts. (Nayoung Weaver moderated the session.)

A powerful and organized breakout session followed each lesson. Dr. Tanu offered inclusive definitions of common international education terms such as “international” and elaborated on “hidden curriculum.” She also provided guidance and the space for educators to discuss their roles in their respective international school ecosystems.

Feedback from Dr. Tanu’s session:
“Hard to choose one or even a couple of things here - this course was so incredibly valuable to me. I appreciated Danau’s transparency, modeling, all the ideas she shared, how she facilitated breakout rooms, the conversations I had with others. The examples from the classrooms she observed in her studies, the stories and conversations with students, the idea of weak ties, the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences with teachers - how I can work towards not repeating those dynamics where some students feel left out and unseen, her focus on historical and local context and challenging norms of thinking.
Also, doing this institute during summer break was really helpful because of the time afterwards I have to reflect. I am not easily able to think on the spot of examples and experiences etc… but I took screenshots of all the prompts so that I can revisit and really take the time I need to reflect deeply.”

“I will stress to our schools that we need to be sure that there is a broader range of voices around the table, including students, staff and parents.  Often, students are far ahead of the adults in recognizing these issues, and they are often more adaptable/flexible too, though not always.”

We Can't Learn What We Already Know: Facilitating Racial Literacy Development for Educators of Color
with Darnell Fine, 24 June 2021

The second session on 24 June was facilitated by Darnell Fine and titled, “We Can't Learn What We Already Know: Facilitating Racial Literacy Development for Educators of Color.” This session was free and for BIPOC educators only. Kevin Simpson moderated the session.

Mr. Fine started with an honest discussion of the history and origins of internalized racial oppression. Within conversations about the Operations of Power in Institutionalized White Supremacy, educators were given the safe and brave space to self-reflect and share their trauma. Through a powerful mirror activity, participants strategically declared their de-commitments to internalized racism.

Feedback from Mr. Fine’s session:

“My personal responsibility for my healing and for my contribution to ending racism was affirmed.”

“[The most valuable part of this session was the] connection & sense of community. The safe space. Everyone's vulnerability & honesty & integrity. And the powerful breakout room questions. Especially the one where we had to talk about people we admire. Wow.”

Beyond Stereotypes: Collaboration with Multilingual and Intercultural Learners
with Angeline Aow, 13 July 2021

On 13 July, Angeline Aow presented on the topic, “Beyond Stereotypes: Collaboration with Multilingual and Intercultural Learners.” Ms. Aow facilitated a deep dive into the Diversity Wheel and Cultural Iceberg, followed by the Stereotype Wheel in Practice. Through her strategic organizations of breakout groups, participants moved from empathy to advocacy. Rama Ndiaye and Nayoung Weaver moderated the session.

Ms. Aow’s strategic position of two powerful videos, Little Things are Big & The Doll Test - How racism affects children. These led the participants into an authentic and meaningful discussion on the impact of unconscious bias and stereotypes in international schools and, more specifically, on multilingual learners.

Feedback from Ms. Aow’s session:

“[I learned] (h)ow important (it) is to teach kids to embrace and celebrate their self-identity and, at the same time, how important (it) is for educators to be aware of biases and stereotypes in order to challenge these and be open to reach out to kids in a truly inclusive way. I also affirmed how unconscious bias leads to systemic racism.”

“[The most valuable part of this session was] (b)eing able to talk openly about this subject with other people of colour (breakout rooms). I don't have many people of colour around me that I can talk to and this was super helpful and healing.”
Re-imagining Teaching and Learning through a BIPOC Lens
with Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa, 22 July 2021

Our next session in July was Re-imagining Teaching and Learning through a BIPOC Lens with Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa. Through Dr. DeRosa’s lesson on individualist vs. collectivist cultures, participants were given the opportunity to self-reflect on their personal cultural archetypes. As a result, participants were able to identify collectivist cultural practices that promote access and engagement for all learners. Osa Oyegun moderated the session.

Feedback from Dr. DeRosa’s session:
“[I learned that] we can and should be honoring different ways of teaching and different ways of learning. That education is very white dominant and it actually meets very few people where they are. It's so limiting.”

“[I learned how] collectivist cultures offer a way to challenge and diminish the effects of white dominance in education; how collectivist cultural practices create a more egalitarian learning community with room for risk, mistakes, and growth.”

“Experiencing what was taught - seeing how this looks and feels in an adult session was both affirming and gave me ideas of ways I can add to how I do things in my class. I really appreciate the oral stories you shared and look forward to reading and learning about them for use in my own class.”

Laboring Under the White Gaze: How BIPOC Educators (Can) Survive and Thrive in International Schools
with Cynthia Roberson, 31 July 2021

The summer Institute closed with a powerful and engaging session on 31 July with Cynthia Roberson: Laboring Under the White Gaze: How BIPOC Educators (Can) Survive and Thrive in International Schools. As the final workshop of the Summer Institute, four out of the five facilitators were present. These powerhouses brought an influential and dynamic discussion. Rama Ndiaye and Nayoung Weaver moderated the session.

Ms. Roberson kicked off the session by inviting participants to watch a video of Toni Morrisson sharing her definition of the “white gaze” and how it impacts historically marginalized individuals. Participants were then led into a reflection on how the “white gaze” has impacted their careers in international schools. After a deep discussion around the different ways overt and covert racism manifest in international schools, Ms. Roberson led a conversation on Race-Based Trauma Syndrome and guided BIPOC educators to prioritize self-care.

Feedback from Ms. Roberson’s session:

“I learned about my privilege of living in a country where labor laws protect workers and that there is so much unethical, immoral and discriminatory behaviour happening in schools across the globe.”

“I will continue to build alliances, disrupt, challenge, question, hold a mirror up to people so they can see their own behaviour and hold people (including myself) to account.”

Actionable Steps

Based on all of the valuable feedback from the Summer Institute, AIELOC will continue to research and try to respond to the following questions and requests from participants:

  1. “Would you [Danau Tanu] consider being paid to observe at an international school to make suggestions?”
  2. “I would very much like to facilitate or figure out a way to facilitate a session similar to this [Darnell Fine’s ‘We Can’t Learn What We Already Know’] for our BIPOC student affinity group, but don't quite feel like I have all the tools to do it well yet.”
  3. “How can we get the message across that internalised racism is a big deal to white educators? Many care about their students and are unaware that this is a very deeply hurtful matter for kids.”
  4. “I would like to learn more about Language & Identity, how can we embrace this and put in action a Linguistic Diversity Landscape?”
  5. “How [can] the culturally responsive teaching principles apply to their work (what would this mean in a math class? a grade 2 class? an early years class? a DP chemistry class? running a faculty or board meeting?)”
  6. “What will it take to end racism and discrimination in the international school ecosystem?”
  7. “What do we do to help leaders see this urgent need for (extra care of working under the white gaze) for BIPOC educators?”

We offer our deepest gratitude to our facilitators: Dr. Danau Tanu, Darnell Fine, Angeline Aow, Dr. MaryAnn DeRosa, and Cynthia Roberson. Thank you to our moderators: Rama Ndiaye, Kevin Simpson, Osa Oyegun, and Nayoung Weaver. And of course, many thanks to all of our participants who took precious time out of their summer to attend our sessions.


Nayoung Weaver is an AIELOC Fellow. She strives to be an inclusive college counselor and equitable secondary school Math head of department and teacher at international schools. As a transnational member (a.k.a. TCK) of the global majority, she is raising her second-generation of transnational youth. Find her on 

Rama Ndiaye is an AIELOC Fellow and a 3rd-grade teacher who has been working in the international school world for a few years. As an anti-racist educator, she strives to guide her students to actively challenge and critically examine the world they live in while helping them foster the interconnectedness that unites our shared humanity.

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