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NYU Florence´s R2X ´Teach-In´: A Report
La Pietra Dialogues
La Pietra Dialogues
April 4, 2016

NYU Florence organized an All Campus ´Teach´In´ on Race, Racism and Xenophobia in a Global Context´ on March 24, 2016 at the Odeon Theater in downtown Florence. The ´Teach-In´ was organized with a committee of NYU Florence students who began working with NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano to plan the ´Teach-In´ starting in Fall 2015.

All NYU Florence students attended the ´Teach-In´ as well as NYU Florence faculty and staff. See the ´Teach-In´ poster here.

In addition to helping with the planning and organization of the ´Teach-In´ and outreach to the NYU Florence community, NYU Florence students introduced and moderated the panels the day itself (see Panel 1 including Nicole Johnson´s introduction here), managed a social media platform that allowed students in the audience to comment and to ask questions through an interactive polling platform called Poll Everywhere, and also made personal creative contributions throughout the day through the reflections they shared during their introductions of speakers, distributing the pin they designed, performances of song, dance, and spoken word, and constant interaction with the student audience to give voice to those who wanted to join the discussion. Meet the R2X student team here.
Co-conveners Deb Willis (NYU Tisch Photography) and Dipti Desai (NYU Steinhardt Education) joined Ellyn Toscano in welcoming guests and students and to frame the day´s discussion.
The ´Teach-In´ featured 5 panels with scholars from NYU in New York and Florence, European Universities, and activists and artists from both sides of the Atlantic who discussed the context of race, racism and xenophobia in the U.S. and Europe from a comparative perspective. You can see the full program of the day here and read participant biographies here. Also see the students ´Speaker Spotlight Series´ on the LPD blog here.
European parliamentarian Cecile Kyenge, formerly Italy´s Minister of Integration, the first person of African origin to be nominated to the Italian Prime Minister´s cabinet, gave a keynote address on racism in Europe and Anti-Racism measures being debated in the European parliament and answered questions from students.
The R2X student committee received 35 questions from students from the floor during the dialogue and 30 questions from students through the Poll Everywhere platform, making for an animated discussion. 
NYU Florence students also brought their voices to the proceedings through a series of performances throughout the day: Siena Bjornerud sang Sam Cooke´s ´A Change is Gonna Come´, Felipe Gomes sang ´I Know Where I´ve Been´ from Hairspray accompanied by a dance performance by Ashleigh Taylor, Sariah Bunker read an original poem ´Washing´, and Gavin Ward shared a short reflection called ´Imagine´ (more videos available soon). Ismail Ibrahim led students in a moment of silence for victims of racism and xenophobia. Natalie Gomez and Parker Hollingsworth screened a series of short interviews they conducted with NYU Florence students on their thoughts on race and experiences of racism and xenophobia. 
The ´Teach-In´ was the culmination of a semester-long series on Race, Racism and Xenophobia in a Global Context at NYU Florence that included film screenings, art exhibitions, and talks, to take advantage of student´s positioning in a different cultural context to look with distance back on some of the most important issues of the day in their home country and to think about them from a comparative perspective. You can see a photogallery of the day here.
The ´Teach-In´ was followed the next day by a meeting with NYU faculty from New York and NYU Florence faculty to discuss some of the themes raised during the ´Teach-In´ and to talk about how issues surrounding race, racism and xenophobia apply to the global classroom.
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