Empowerment through diversity
On a crisp Wednesday morning, instead of heading to the first class of the day, six St. John’s students, including myself, accompanied by chaperones Coach Virgil Campbell and Señora Edma Margarita Serrano, took a slight detour to St. Louis, to attend the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).
SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering for high school students from across the U.S. and abroad. It aims to cultivate community among students eager to learn about social justice, foster awareness of diversity and inclusion, and give students valuable knowledge about equality to bring back to their communities.
After we arrived at the convention center, we brushed off our exhaustion for our first activity: peer facilitator training. In just two hours, I met students from all over the country, learned about their experiences, and was welcomed into the community that lies at the heart of SDLC.
Along with fascinating speaker presentations, engaging activities helped us think outside the box; in one activity, “Cancel or Counsel,” students were read a prompt and had to decide whether to “cancel” or “counsel” the individual in the situation.
After a long day, students would gather into their shared affinity groups. I was part of the South Asian affinity group where we talked about our experiences. We discussed topics such as colorism and mental health and created skits to appreciate our culture. It was amazing to be in a space with others who had so much in common with me. We ended our time together with a dance party, celebrating our identities.
As the conference was wrapping up, we met with other students and teachers from Houston to discuss how to further diversity and inclusion in our community. The conference not only broadened my perspective, but also provided a platform for me to connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. As we bid farewell to St. Louis, we knew that we would carry what we learned with us as we strive to make a difference in this world.
Editor’s note: Nia originally wrote this piece for our School Buzz blog.
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