Dr. Javier Ávila, a noted poet, author, and professor, will serve as the keynote speaker at The Haverford School’s 12th annual Middle School Diversity Conference on Wednesday, March 4. Dr. Ávila’s will share his perspectives and expertise in the areas of diversity, equity, and social justice during his presentation titled The Trouble with My Name.
"Dr. Javier Avila’s keynote will be a reminder of the difference between "fitting in" and "belonging." Fitting in depends on others' acceptance of my difference and/or competence while belonging embraces my difference, my story, my culture without compromise," said Director of Diversity and Inclusion Brendon Jobs. "The Trouble with my Name is a one-man show that speaks to the broader community goal of schools intent on empowering people to go beyond mild toleration of differences in integrated spaces. Dr. Avila’s show will model the vulnerability it takes to speak up for yourself and others when silenced by societal norms or the social pressures of wanting to just 'go along to get along.' He will model how to harness the power of your authentic voice."
"At Haverford students, faculty and staff in Third Form, SEED Faculty, and Human Relationships seminars have worked to make sense of this distinction," Jobs continued. "To question it in ways that lead folks talking to each other about what belonging means and looks like."
The conference is one of the largest of its kind in the region, as it serves hundreds of middle school students from more than two dozen area schools. During Dr. Ávila’s presentation, he will use performance poetry to examine racial themes and engage the audience. The conference will also feature professional development opportunities for educators and administrators and breakout sessions for students.
About Dr. Javier Ávila
Javier Ávila’s distinguished career began in the Caribbean, where he taught English at the University of Puerto Rico for eight years. He moved to Pennsylvania and became a beloved educator at Northampton Community College. His extraordinary work with students earned him the 2015 Pennsylvania Professor of the Year Award sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
In addition to his accomplishments in academia, Ávila is a renowned poet and novelist whose literary excellence propelled him to international recognition. His bestselling novel Different became an award-winning motion picture entitled Miente, which was screened in over a dozen countries. His poetry books The Symmetry of Time and The Dead Man’s Position earned him prestigious awards by the Pen Club and The Puerto Rico Institute of Culture, respectively. Other books—Broken Glass on the Carpet, The Professor in Ruins, and The Oldest Profession—cemented his reputation as a celebrated writer. Audiences praise Ávila’s recent work for being a powerful voice for Latinos in the U.S.