Dear Members of the Out of Eden Learn Community – educators, students, parents, project partners, and other friends of the project,
We wanted to reach out to you today to acknowledge the extremely troubling and tumultuous moment that we are currently living through in the United States. While we are not a politically partisan project, it is impossible for us to look at the implications of President Trump’s executive order, Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States without feeling profound disquiet at both its practical and symbolic implications.
As the US government’s stance toward migrants and refugees evolves, it is important for us to convey our heartfelt condolences to any members of the Out of Eden Learn community who have been directly affected by this executive order and to make clear that recent presidential actions in no way reflect or influence the values that we hold dear on this project. Indeed, the goals of Out of Eden Learn – to support young people to communicate respectfully and thoughtfully across real and perceived cultural differences, and to observe the world carefully and to listen attentively to others – stand in stark contrast to the kind of fear-inducing rhetoric that is in danger of becoming the new norm, not only here in the United States but in various other places around the world.
Furthermore, for the many of you who are located outside of the United States, you should know that while there are people here who have applauded President Trump’s recent actions, there are many others who are horrified by what they perceive to be an attack on fundamental human decency. Weekend protests at airports and in major cities, including our home town of Boston, Massachusetts, were a reflection of those sentiments. We appreciated the following words that the President of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust, shared in an open letter to the university community last night:
“In times of unsettling change, we look toward our deepest values and ideals. Among them is the recognition that drawing people together from across the nation and around the world is a paramount source of our University’s strength. Thousands of students and scholars and visitors come to Harvard each year from all over the globe—to study, to teach, to propel our research enterprise, to join in conferences and colloquia, to share insights and abilities that transcend nationality. Thousands more leave Harvard each year to travel abroad, learning from experiences they could not replicate here, gaining insight into cultures and perspectives different from their own, visiting colleagues and family and friends, forming and sustaining the human bonds essential to mutual understanding.
Our robust commitment to internationalism is not an incidental or dispensable accessory. It is integral to all we do, in the laboratory, in the classroom, in the conference hall, in the world.”
To our educators: Through your work with us at Project Zero, you are a part of what Harvard does in the world. Given the unsettling and unpredictable times in which we live, our work together has frankly never seemed more important. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and desire to expose your students to stories and perspectives that may be different to their own. Thank you for your interest in the slow journalism of Paul Salopek and his reporting of stories that lie beyond the purview of an increasingly beleaguered mainstream news media. Thank you for seeking to inspire an upcoming generation of young people to reach out to others in the world and to make connections between their own lives and bigger, unfolding human stories – including ongoing stories of human migration.
To our students: We value your voices, each and every one. Thank you for sharing your stories and for your openness to listening to stories and perspectives that may be different to your own. Thank you for the creative and thoughtful work you do. Thank you for helping to make Out of Eden Learn the vibrant, respectful, inspiring community that it is. You make us proud.
The Out of Eden Learn Team