Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Posted 01/04/2017 11:27AM

Bullis reps travel to international workshop to gain ideas and insight

by Bryan Whitford, Upper School Spanish Teacher and Diversity Committee Co-Chair

From December 8-10, 1,627 independent school students from 42 states and 5 countries gathered for the 2016 Student Diversity Leadership Conference. With the theme "Advancing Human and Civil Rights: Fulfilling the Dream Together" Atlanta, Georgia served as the ideal backdrop for this conference.

Four Bullis students— Katura Britt '17, Sydney Smith '18, Tony Cheng '17 and David Zhang '18—represented our school for this two and half day intensive experience.

They spent time in family and home groups learning curriculum in diversity and equity work while also taking valuable time for self-reflection.

This conference is a vital piece in Bullis' diversity and equity commitment, as these students are now prepared to transfer their work to our community. Plans this year include leading Upper School staff through sample workshop activities while also working with student groups on principles of diversity and equity. The goals are to share and familiarize the student body with the principles of this important work so that we can continue to nurture an inclusive community.

Junior Sydney Smith shared this reflection from the trip:

The conference was as an amazing experience! I had the opportunity to share my feelings about a wide range of issues and listen to others' opinions that may have been different from mine. I learned so much about how to participate in discussions, facilitate discussions, and how to work in tandem with administration and students with opposing viewpoints when trying to tackle issues of diversity.

There were SO many enjoyable parts of this experience, but one of my favorites and perhaps the most memorable was the affinity groups. I went into the conference not knowing what an affinity group was, and came out with a whole new family. Being biracial, I decided to go to the multi-cultural affinity group and there I met hundreds of mixed kids who deal with the same problems and feelings as I do. I truly believe that our affinity group epitomized the beauty that can stem from diversity.

Among the many things I learned, I learned the appropriate steps to take when trying to end the cycle of oppression (proximate, change the narrative, stay hopeful, and be willing to do uncomfortable things). Perhaps one of the most valuable things I learned and something that I hope to bring back to the Bullis community is that "diversity, equity, and inclusion are three different things" and we need to address each differently.

I am excited to take this powerful information back to Bullis. I hope to lead workshops and activities with teachers , because they play a vital role in our development as students, and I think that they can really enforce a positive shift in the way we think about diversity. I would also love to facilitate discussions with students that are willing to go outside their comfort zone about problems they face addressing diversity at home or at Bullis.

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