FIRE Conference

2019 Fire Conference

2019 FIRE Conference title, Engaged Citizenship: Meeting in the Middle - closeup of hands at the All School Handshake

Building on the success of the inaugural FIRE (Fostering Intercultural Respect and Engagement) Conference in 2017, LFA held its second conference titled Engaged Citizenship: Meeting in the Middle on February 16, 2019.

Event description:

It’s a secret to no one that we live in polarized times. While our nation’s citizens may be more politically engaged than ever before in their lifetimes, they are almost evenly split (and dug in) on the two sides of our political spectrum. When one side is in control, the consequential win-lose scenario leaves half our citizenry angry, distrusting, and fearful. When power is shared, we bemoan gridlock’s resultant inaction. So let’s figure out a better way.

2019 Speakers

Dr. John Strudwick, a native of the United Kingdom and Head of School at Lake Forest Academy has extensive experience as an educator and administrator. Under his leadership, LFA has come up with long-term strategic plans that define and unify the mission of the school and focused on the importance of global awareness and understanding in American high school education.

His educational background is in economics and education, with a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics, a PGCE from Oxford University, an MA from Queen’s University, and a PhD from the University of Toronto, where his thesis examined inequalities in educational finance in the United States, 1870-1970.

Aviral Pathak is a member of the History department at LFA where he teaches World History and AP Government and Comparative Politics. He is completing his Ph.D. His research interest and experience in the history of political thought, comparative politics, and South Asian studies. His dissertation examines the relationship between theories of individual freedom and practices of government in modern India. He has been invited to present his work at distinguished national and international conferences and workshops. Aviral has received several awards that have supported his doctoral research and writing. He pursued undergraduate study at Purdue University, West Lafayette, where he earned a B.S. in Economics (Honors). He was then accepted to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for graduate study where he has earned a Master of Arts in Political Science and is completing his Ph.D. in Political Science. Prior to joining LFA, Aviral taught courses in the history of political thought and international studies at the undergraduate level

He considers himself a lifelong scholar, and enjoys reading, writing, listening to old vinyls, traveling, and spending time with family and friends in his spare time. He has supported Manchester United Football Club since his early years growing up in India. He has since adopted Chicago Fire Soccer Club when he moved with his family to the United States as a teenager.

Aisha Fukushima is a singer, speaker, educator, and global ‘RAPtivist’ (rap artist) whose presentation repertoire combines the art of performance and lecture. RAPtivism is a global hip-hop project spanning over 10 countries and four continents, highlighting the ways in which culture can actively contribute to universal efforts for freedom and justice by challenging apathy with awareness, ignorance with intelligence and oppression with expression. Her presentations engage participants in making music that facilitates positive change in the ways we advocate for social justice.

Shifting Culture (Shift) speakers is comprised of a team of three colleagues, Natalie Bui, Kausar Mohammed, and Veline Mojarro, who provide active, embodied, and dialogue-based presentations.

Natalie Bui is a first generation Vietnamese American with a background in community organizing. She has worked for Planned Parenthood – LA on their voter campaign and with ACLU of San Diego, California on their immigrant advocacy initiative. She is now heading diversity and inclusion and coalition building work at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in LA.

Kausar Mohammed has a strong interest in media of all forms, starting from her first TV hosting job at the age of twelve, which expanded from in front of the camera to what makes people watch it. Along with her expertise in producing, marketing, and public relations, she is an actress and a comedian known for award-winning work accredited by NBC, Huffington Post, and Al-Jazeera.

Veline Mojarro has been shaking things up in Los Angeles since birth. A proud Chicana, artist, facilitator, and educator, she currently works at UCLA as a lecturer in the World Arts and Culture Department, and is the Director of Community Programs with the Art and Global Health Center. Some of her past collaborations and clients include Planned Parenthood and CNN’s This Sex with Lisa Ling.


Saturday, February 16, 2019


Registration and breakfast (Reid Hall)

8:30 - 9:00 Welcome and Icebreakers (Little Theater)
9:00 - 10:00 Opening dialogue: The value of Global Pluralism - Dr. John Strudwick and Aviral Pathak (Little Theater)
10:00 - 10:45

Break-out sessions - Shifting Cultures 1 (Reid Hall classrooms)

10:45 - 11:00 Snack break

11:00 - 11:45

Break-out sessions - Shifing Cultures 2 (Reid Hall classrooms)

11:45 - 12:30

Lunch (Student Union)
12:30 - 1:15

Break-out Shifting Cultures 3 (Reid Classrooms)

1:15 - 2:00

Break-out session (Reid classrooms)

2:00 - 2:15 Snack break

2:15 - 3:00

Aisha Fukushima (Little Theater)

3:00 - 3:45

Breakout session (Reid classrooms)

3:45 - 4:30

Closing session (Little Theater)