Diversity conference inspires students

Gabby Kepnes, Staff Writer

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The Diversity Awareness Initiative for Students Conference (DAIS) was held this past Saturday in an attempt to strengthen the awareness and respect for different cultures among private school students in New York City.

Founded in 1999, the DAIS organization has worked with more than 10,000 students to host meetings and conferences with the goal of maintaining a supportive community among students, faculty, parents, and administrators in New York City private schools, according to the DAIS website.

The day consisted of rounds of workshops, affinity group meetings, a talent show, and a dance party at the end, Nshera Tutu (10) said.

Jayla Thomas (11) signed up for a workshop which discussed the intersectionality between beauty standards, colorism, and the Eurocentric features that are pushed to the front in the media.

Tutu tried to sign up for workshops concerning not only things she was interested in but also topics that she didn’t have a lot of information about, she said.

“Through the workshops, I hope to introduce myself to a wider variety of things under the topic of diversity, and also to bring my depth of knowledge on colorism and racism to the other students,” she said.

Natalia Mason (10) attended the God’s Plan workshop, where she discussed how religion affects different gender roles, she said.

Other workshops included liberalism, the United Nations, and discrimination in education.

The entire community came together to discuss personal struggles and hear about others’ experiences, Destiney Green (9) said.

Taussia Boadi (11) attended informative and interesting workshops and felt that the students who led them were good facilitators, she said.

“It was really surprising to see how kids my age could have such great leadership skills,” Mason said.

Some of the students from the school had previously gone on the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SLDC) trip with the school back in November as well.

“SDLC was a national conference, and so the stories were a lot more spread out, because you had kids from Arizona and kids from Idaho,” Charles Simmons (11) said. “DAIS is more like a city conference where you’re going to meet a lot more of the independent school community within our own community,” he said. 

“I feel like going to DAIS and SDLC has deepened my interest for diversity and equity work,” Boadi said.

“There’s a common theme that the reason people are against making things more diverse and being more progressive is because they aren’t educated on those topics,” Boadi said.

It is important to be educated on the topics that were covered at the conference because the more knowledge you have, the less ignorant you’ll be, Thomas said.

“I learned from the conference that first and foremost, we are a community and we can always push forward,” Simmons said.

“I was so proud to see people so young doing such great things,” Boadi said.