COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS INSPIRE ACTION
During the first week of December 2015, four students from the Class of 2017 at- tended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) hosted annually by the National Association of Independent Schools. Aidan, Alex, Maya and Olivier traveled to Tampa with Mr. Cohen (
Principal), Mr. Albrizzio (Diversity Coordinator), Mr. Wagner
(Dean), Ms. Garwood (Learning Specialist), and Mr.
Movradinov (Communications Director) who attended
the People of Color Conference concurrently. Engaged
by the eye-opening discussions about diversity and
thought-provoking affinity group exercises at SDLC, our
students came back inspired. Over the course of the year
they created International High School's own Diversity
Leadership Council and elected three additional students
from the incoming 10th and 11th grades to continue
raising awareness about issues of diversity at International. Recently we asked them to tell us about this journey.
Let's start with the origins of the Diversity
Leadership Council. How did it take shape?
Maya: For me, wanting to be a part of diversity within the
high school started after SDLC. At the end of the three
days we discussed ideas that we wanted to bring back
to the school, and Alex mentioned having some sort of
council on the same level as student government, but
that just related to issues of diversity.
Alex: ... where we could propose ideas and get things
done within our school. I feel like SDLC opened my eyes
to how good things could be, what kind of diverse and
accepting environment is actually possible, in a way that
I hadn't realized before.
Aidan: Before I even went to SDLC I took part in the
Black Student Union, where I started getting an idea
of diversity and how it should be implemented in our
school. But I didn't really think of any other topic except
for race. When I went to SDLC, they showed us about
age, sexual orientation...
Alex: ...gender, religion, socio-economic status...
[Note: ability and ethnicity complete the eight core
Aidan: Most people don't think about all the other ways
that people identify themselves.
Olivier: I think the reason why it's life-changing for us
especially is that you're meeting with other people who
are going through the same thing as you in terms of going to a private school. A lot of them are minorities, too,
so we can all relate to the problems we face at school.
Alex: The atmosphere there was incredibly accepting.
You felt like you could talk to anyone about anything.
We'd be asked to say something about ourselves, and
people were sharing these incredibly personal things
about themselves and their experiences because SDLC
fosters this sense of safety for everyone who was there.
Being able to talk about issues pertaining to your own
experiences, and not to feel like you have to constantly
explain and justify, or keep your voice down and not be
too bothersome, was an incredible experience, and not
something I even realized was possible.
Aidan: The other thing is that a lot of people talk about
diversity. and they say they're not racist, but a lot of
people don't actually do anything to make a difference in their community. Everybody who went to SDLC
wanted to actually make a difference in their schools.
That's pretty rare.