Upper School Students Share Experience at National Diversity Conference

At this morning’s Upper School assembly, six Collegiate students shared their experiences from the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference they attended in December.
Each year, the National Association of Independent Schools gathers together 1,600 9th-12th Graders from across the country for the conference to develop cross-cultural communication skills and learn the foundations of allyship and building community.

The conference is led by returning students, who receive training to become peer facilitators, and trained adult facilitators. Collegiate sends a group of Upper Schoolers every year, and today during assembly, those students led their peers through an exercise they developed while attending the Dec. 4-7 conference in Seattle, Washington. 

The goal today, they said, was to help Upper Schoolers consider the definition of privilege and how it is something everyone should be aware of — whether their particular privilege is race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation or gender, or some combination.

“We are all privileged,” said senior Shreya Sharma, who serves as co-president of Mosaic, Collegiate’s Upper School diversity club. 
“Rude or insensitive comments come from a place of privilege,” said senior Donald Adams, also co-president of Mosaic. “But you can’t criticize others without first looking at yourself.” 
The students then engaged the audience in an interactive exercise, presenting statements about privilege that ranged from “I have my own bedroom” to “People in leadership often look like me” and allowing them to confidentially add up their points. 
The goal, the group said, was to help their friends and peers remember that others’ perspectives matter, so that each of them can be “more attentive,” Shreya said.