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Students Participate in NAIS Diversity Leadership Conference

Students Participate in NAIS Diversity Leadership Conference

Six Harvey Upper School students recently participated in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Online Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) Dec.1-4, “a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. and abroad.” Dylan Bazaar ‘24, Emi Knauer ‘23, Shelby McCaine ‘24, Aaron Providence ‘23, Leo Saperstein ‘22, and Cody Siegel ‘22, were the first Harvey students to attend the SDLC. Led by adult and peer facilitators, the students worked to develop cross-cultural communication skills, discover effective strategies for practicing social justice through both dialogue and the arts, and build a foundation of networking.

Students were also assigned to smaller groups labeled “family groups” and “home groups” to facilitate more comfortable dialogue and sharing between students which the Harvey students found extremely enlightening. “Smaller groups makes it easier to express yourself because there are less people judging you,” said Emi ‘23. “I have more lasting memories from the smaller groups. We became friends.”

“I made new friends from different backgrounds and races,” shared Aaron ‘23. “I got a feel for their personal experiences and we share stories every day.” 

“For me, it was interesting to see the true diversity of the students,” said Leo ‘22. “There are a lot more people that identified a certain way than I thought.” 

The entire experience provided great insight and new awareness among the Harvey students who attended. The students definitely see a need to expand the discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the entire Harvey community through morning meetings, advisory groups, more Diversity Dialogues sessions, and creating affinity groups for students. “The conference showed me where we have faults at Harvey and where we are good,” said Aaron 23. “I see where we are privileged but where we need to continue to work.” 

The students made lasting connections with the other students attending the conference. They continue to participate in group chats with students from all over the world, discovering they are much more alike than they are different. “We made group chats and are planning to Zoom over the break,” said Cody ‘22. “We continue to participate in activities and work toward the goals we formed in the conference.”

“I wasn’t sure how the conference would go,” said advisor Gary Dunn. “But all six of our students were open and shared their experiences about how much they connected with the other students at the conference. I am excited for them.”

All the students would like to attend again next year. Harvey students will be participating in additional diversity conferences and events in 2021.

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