On November 11, I attended the 3rd annual Different Voices, Same Vision Conference. Different Voices, Same Vision is a diversity conference held here at Friends’ Central that was started by Simone Gibson, a Friends’ Central alumni who graduated last year.
The conference was an all-day event, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. It was chaperoned by Friends’ Central teachers and administrators who participated in a separate program from students. Chaperones from other schools were also included in the adult program. The facilitators were Friends’ Central students, many of whom were seniors.
The program began with an opening remarks from Dwight Dunston. Following his introduction, there was an icebreaker in which everyone was supposed to find at least two people in the room that they did not know, and then each group discussed values.
After Dwight’s comments and the activity, we split into assigned groups to talk with student facilitators for an hour. One of the things my group talked about was our respective privileges. For example,
some of the privileges that I listed as having, are white privilege, ability (being able-bodied), socio-economic status/stability, and a supportive, consistent family. We spoke about both our advantages and disadvantages, as well as the advantages we wish we had.
Every participant in the conference went to two workshops and one group discussion. I attended Deconstructing White Privilege, which was taught by Mr. Chagan and Mrs. Torpey. In this session, people articulated the benefits of white privilege and how it affects them personally, both positively and negatively. I also attended Sex and the Pizza Guy: Separating the Fact from the Fable in Media Representations about Sex and Gender, which was taught by Mr. Vernacchio. We discussed the representation of gender in the media, the ways people are portrayed and treated, and how that carries over into everyday life.
Post-lunch, we did an exercise where everyone stood in a circle in Middle School Room 10. Saleana facilitated the activity, asking people who identified with what she said to come into the middle of the circle. For example, “If you identify as black, step into the circle,” or “If you identify as LGBTQ+, step into the circle,” et cetera. Every group spoke about their experiences.
Following the circle activity, we moved to discussion groups. I went to the Gender and Sexual Orientation Discussion Group. This was by far my favorite part. My group was amazing. I met so many fantastic people who expressed their thoughts and opinions and spoke of their personal experiences. Being in an environment like that, even for just an hour, was wonderful.
After discussion groups, there was a Kickback, where people danced and talked, and a short Meeting for Worship-like reflection period, in which people expressed their feelings about the day.
This was my second diversity conference, and I am so glad I went. Props to Saleana Copeland and Jordan Friday for organizing it! I highly recommend attending diversity conferences when given the opportunity; it is very important to have these discussions. It is crucial to look past our own discomfort and have these real conversations.