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News

Volume 65 Number 3

Student Diversity Conference: Connecting at the Core

by Arianna Menzelos - 2014-12-18

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This year, the Student Diversity Leadership Conference was held in Indianapolis, Indiana from December 3-6. The conference is made up of around 1500 students coming from independent schools each sending eight students.

At the conference, students learned how to lead potentially controversial conversations in respectful and meaningful ways. “I learned a lot of tips on how to handle uncomfortable conversations that we don’t usually have at Chadwick,” junior Jamie Castleman said.

“There is no way to be successful in the world without learning how to communicate about issues that are intense, doing it with respect, and learning from other perspectives,” Director of Multiculturalism and Inclusion Jasmine Love said.

Students were organized into family groups of 30 people in which they discussed the eight cultural identifiers: ability, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, and socio-economic status.

The students participated in different activities revolving around the identifiers. These activities offered different lenses through which to view the topics and helped students connect with the other people at the conference.

“I think one of the most intense things we did was talk about family structure. We were in a group of fifty, and we all thought about a conversation we wanted to have with someone in the next year. We got into a circle, and a couple of people went into the middle and they actually practiced that conversation. It ended up being a really intense exercise; it was a way to lean into discomfort and to start talking about different issues of diversity that we don’t normally talk about at Chadwick,” senior Xander Nanji said.

Students were able to join specific affinity groups based on how they identified. These groups gave the students the opportunity to find a strong common ground with one another despite having come from different parts of the country.

“I joined the black affinity group, and I noticed that kids would start dancing and clapping and singing. I thought it was really cool because music is really important in African-American culture, and I saw it get celebrated at the conference,” says Gay.

Students who may be considered minorities at Chadwick usually make up a majority group at the conference, but everybody is welcomed and encouraged to apply.

“I had a conversation with someone who didn’t think he would get anything out of the conference being a straight, white, male who didn’t feel like he fit into diversity, but he ended up walking away with the experience changing his life.” senior Victoria Ojetunde said.

Students were exposed to an incredibly diverse group of people, and they left the conference transformed through the discovery of themselves as well as a greater grasp of the world surrounding them.

“The conference really breaks down the idea that these issues are just for a certain group of people. It’s for everybody. If you live in the world, you want to go to this conference,” Love said.


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