Six students and three faculty members from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy traveled to Indianapolis for the yearly NAIS-sponsored Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the People of Color Conference, concurrent conferences during which participants confronted sticky diversity issues with open minds and open hearts.
Against the backdrop of the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury verdicts, keynote speaker Eric Michael Dyson addressed students and faculty together on the first morning of the conference, exhorting the audience to lean into the work that still needs to be done to eradicate prejudice and dismantle racism in America.
“We are privileged to have an extremely diverse student population at SCH and especially lucky to have such bright minds thinking about how to continue strengthening our diverse community,” said Polly Kimberly, college counselor at SCH, who attended the conference. “As usual, we came away from the conference excited to bring new energy to the diversity work we do here at school.”
While students spent two days together learning about and discussing various cultural identifiers that comprise diversity, adults attended diversity workshops and had the honor of hearing speakers such as Maysoon Zayid, who addressed the issue of authentic inclusion of the physically disabled, and Jose Antonio Vargas, who recounted his story of growing up as an undocumented immigrant, a story that opened many people’s eyes to the challenges and injustices faced by immigrants in America, both documented and undocumented.
“In the course of three days, I was introduced to many new experiences, had the opportunity to make new friendships, and my understanding of life changed,” said SCH sophomore Melanie Graves.