On Wednesday, Jan. 29, students attended seminars celebrating the diversity of Archer girls for the annual Diversity Conference, a long-standing school tradition.
The variety of topics presented—from women in the media to intellectual disabilities and foster care—allowed students to select seminars that interested them. Many upper-school students became involved in their community by hosting their own workshops or presenting in seminars.
The Diversity Committee filmed a movie for the conference, asking students and teachers why they believe diversity is important. Students who chose to be interviewed for the film also discussed their personal experiences with racial stereotypes. They showed this movie to the entire community to set the tone for the day.
After meeting in advisory, upper schoolers moved to the Dining Hall for an assembly by Keynote Speaker Rosetta Lee, while middle schoolers engaged in a Diversity Committee activity before joining together in paired advisories for further discussion. Middle schoolers saw Lee’s presentation after their advisory discussions. Lee—a graduate of Harvard University and a teacher of a variety of subjects like math, technology, art, and ethics—focused on the topic of bullying in her presentation.
Instead of a lecture, Lee engaged students by providing an opportunity for Archer girls to “claim their identities.” As she announced different races, socioeconomic statuses, and religious backgrounds—among other things—students and teachers stood up from their chairs if they felt they belonged to that particular category.
Teachers attended a faculty workshop with Lee later in the morning. Math teacher Jacob London says the speaker encouraged ”being more aware of the role that your own culture plays with your interactions with other people [and] being considerate of the different values that different people have along with their cultural experiences.”
In the afternoon, students performed dances and songs that highlighted diversity of both language and culture. Teachers participated as well: Dr. Yoshimura presented an intriguing and personal piece reflecting on her ethnicity and cultural identity as a “hapa,” a person of mixed ethnic heritage.
At the end of the day, students spent an hour gathered in a circle to reflect on the seminars and the assembly. Many students felt that this year’s Diversity Day was the most successful.
“From Homeboy,” Carina Oriel ’16 said after attending a seminar by Homeboy Industries, “I learned that people can make a difference in their lives when they really put their mind to it. Our speaker told us about the hardships she went through, and how she developed over time.”
On Family Friday, Archer families continued the discussion of diversity by contemplating questions, such as: Where does the idea of beauty come from? What makes you unique? As part of this discussion, they watched the video “Selfie,” an advertisement by Dove and part of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
When teachers and students attend seminars and engage in diversity-related activities, there are two underlying questions: What is Diversity Day, and why is it important?
Stella Smyth ’19 says that “Diversity Day is a day when everyone from Archer who is different in the community can come together and learn about different cultures.”
Feature Image: Students sitting for the keynote speaker on Diversity Day. Photographer: Marcela Riddick ’16