Learning about equity and community, students bring diversity conference lessons to DEI curriculum


Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu

Six U-High students attended the National Association of Independent Schools Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Dallas Nov. 30-Dec. 3, to learn about incorporating discussions about community into the diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum at Lab.

Mia Lipson, Assistant editor

Six U-High students attended the National Association of Independent Schools Student Diversity Leadership Conference hosted in Dallas Nov. 30-Dec. 3, where they learned about incorporating discussions on equity and communities to create a more dynamic diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum at Lab.

Last year, students attended the conference virtually. This year, applications were open to students who had attended the virtual conferences from the past two years, and six students were selected by raffle to attend again. 

Junior Katie Williams found the two conferences very different due to the social aspect. 

“The interpersonal connections I made were much greater in person, and being there just allowed me to have deeper conversations with the people around me,” she said.

From the  nearly 1,700 student attendees, SDLC organized people into “family” and “home groups,”consisting of 40-80 and 7-8 students, respectively. In those groups, the students participated in activities and discussions with facilitators, who guided them through the curriculum. 

Junior Santana Romero was able to connect with her peers, particularly in her home group, over the  three days.

“We are all trying to make change and ensure this sense of belonging in our schools, especially since many of us attend independent and mostly upper class, white schools,” she said.

Students were also able to attend affinity groups. Out of the family and home groups, Senior Donovan Miller enjoyed attending the Black affinity group the most. 

“There was a large focus on an understanding and appreciation of our culture,” Donovan said. “It was really fun to be able to see that because it was definitely the type of space where you could see a lot of joy and Black expression.”

One of Katie’s primary takeaways from the conference was the value of listening to others’ experiences.

“From being open to ideas, we can take those discussions and apply those to true changes that we can make, rather than just having conversations and lacking action,” she said.

After attending the conference, Santana and Katie felt motivation to bring the ideas of equity and community back to their school environments. 

“Hearing the ideas, stories, and common experiences of people who are trying to advocate for change in their schools gave me a sense of energy throughout the entire experience,” Katie said.

Donovan, Katie and Santana hope to incorporate the knowledge they learned from the conference into creating a more interactive and engaging DEI curriculum in their roles as DEI peer facilitators, and workshop leaders for U-High’s Social Justice Week and the middle school Diversity Days.

“I would like to reevaluate the way we do workshops,” Donovan said. “I learned that when those spaces promote connection, it allows people to care about the ideas they’re learning, and that perspective will be able to unify people.”