19 Seniors Trek to Tufts University for Conference on Migration and Urban Spaces

By 12th grade dean David Morss and Prep School Assistant Director Monica Markovits

Nineteen seniors boarded a bus to Tufts University on Thursday, April 4 to attend a summit conference on Cities at the Vanguard: Migration and Metropolis, convened by the Global Cities Coalition. The students would spend two full days (the evenings of Thursday and Friday, and all day Saturday) discussing measures that could be implemented in some cities that are facing unprecedented challenges from an influx of migrants and refugees. 

It is interesting to note how challenging it was for the students to discuss policy pertaining particularly to cities, since most official measures normally cover nations and their political positions. Often, our students had to refer to real events in the cities of Tijuana, Beirut and Athens (which they represented in a variety of committees) to formulate solutions, join coalitions and create institutions that would specifically assist affected cities around the world. Cities serve as points of arrival, transit hubs and ultimate destinations for millions of migrants. They play a central role in the short-, medium- and long-term — from food, shelter, and healthcare at arrival, to housing and subsistence during transit, to employment and social integration in the ensuing years. Since more than 240 million people are on the move, many displaced by climate-related disasters, others by political persecution or expectations for a better livelihood, the cities of the world face many health, security and social cohesion challenges, which often strain public services and stress the urban fabric. 

The conference, of which Columbia Prep is a founder school, drew participants from schools around the country, including Pace Academy in Atlanta, Phillips Exeter Academy and The Boston Latin School. The students from our school acquitted themselves especially well, having been prepared in the daily seminar run over the course of the year by Ms. Markovits. 

Sometimes these conferences have been notable for the presence of particular speakers — Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias has spoken there, as has the lone dissenter in the Russian Duma at the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What made this year’s gathering outstanding was the sheer quality of student participation, in which, we’re proud to say, those from Columbia Prep led the field. 

Part of the tradition of the Tufts trip (aside from the free time in which students can enjoy the various eateries of Cambridge) is a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This year’s visit highlighted some special exhibitions, including the work of Frida Kalho and Japanese prints and postcards featuring royal ceremonies. We were also able to enjoy a group dinner at our hotel on Friday night. 

Next year’s topic will be on the prevention of mass atrocities, and we anticipate that, once again, the course will be exciting and productive. 

To see the video the students made of their trip, click here.