Students attend Diversity Leadership Conference; host workshop today


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In its 27th year, the virtual Student Diversity Leadership Conference student attendees were Gabriella Thompson, Karla Garcia, Riley Erben, Tenzin Bawa, and Milkii Tigro.

The theme? New Decades / New Destinies: Challenging Self, Changing Systems, Choosing Justice.

Attendees were welcomed to the virtual Diversity Leadership Conference Nov. 30-Dec. 4 by a video and invitation into the conference site. Each day brought a different focus and call to action.

Attendees from the upper school included Gabriella Thompson, Karla Garcia, Riley Erben, Tenzin Bawa, and Milkii Tigro.

The students will use the inspiration from the PoCC sessions to facilitate a workshop with all US students this morning. While most student meetings encourage cameras on, this one is different:

In a message sent by Director of Intercultural Life Naomi Taylor on behalf of the student attendees, she instructed: “When we begin, we will ask you to turn off your camera, and everyone will disappear from the screen.”

The Zoom meeting will begin with students hearing different identifiers under eight-core cultural pieces: race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and family structure. Students are invited to turn on their cameras for identities they embrace, and shut the camera off for identities they don’t, each time acknowledging who is visible and invisible.

At the end of the activity, students are set to meet with their advisors to talk.

Taylor wrote, “This is an invitation to be vulnerable. Please don’t do anything that makes you feel unsafe; however, we ask you to embrace and experience discomfort. We expect you to respect everyone here and what they share. Be conscious that some might be sharing very personal information, and don’t repeat it without permission. Show up as your true self.”

This activity is modeled after one of the workshop pieces the attendees experienced at SDLC. The conference, in its 27th year, is hosted by the National Association for Independent Schools and has grown from humble beginnings in a church basement with a small group of faculty and has expanded to a national conference with thousands of attendees and independent school outreach.