Fifteen Upper School students participated in the 2021 Virtual Low Country Student Diversity Conference today. Students spent the day hearing from speakers, participating in workshops and joining in cohort and affinity groups. The conference was open to ninth-12th grade students to support the idea of leadership on and off campus as well as conflict resolution, cultural competency, social justice and equity.
Sophomore Caleb Xiao said this about his experience participating in the conference:
"One speaker that resonated with me discussed civil discourse, which is the mutual airing of views with the purpose of building perspective rather than changing another's opinion. I felt that this skill was ever so important now in such a politically divided country. The first step to civil discourse was to know yourself, your ticks, and your core values; realize that you have the capacity to love, to hate, to develop biases, to ignore, and to learn. He also mentioned unconditional acceptance as a crucial social skill in civil discourse. Being self-aware and realizing that we as humans are more similar than different will be two things to keep in mind in all of my future conversations in order to help build each other up rather than tear each other down.
Another session I thoroughly enjoyed was the affinity groups. I conversed with around 20 other Asian American teens for an hour, and it was an unforgettable experience. We discussed our common struggles regarding race and identity such as stereotypes and the assumption and grouping together of nationalities. One question that everyone recoiled at was 'Where are you from?' as it suggested that the question's recipient did not belong here. We agreed that 'What is your ethnicity?' was a more passive question that would prompt a positive response from the recipient. One exchange student pointed out that most of these misconceptions are caused by a lack of knowledge regarding Asia's countries and their differing and profound cultures and that it is our responsibility as the small Asian populations living in the Southeast to help educate others regarding this topic. I couldn't have agreed more, and I left the session with a newfangled sense that I should work on balancing my two cultures and help people be more well-versed towards Asian Americans in the process."