On March 3, Cincinnati Country Day School held its 6th annual Diversity Conference in the Upper School.
Upper School students participated in a full day of learning that included keynote speakers, conference sessions, and the award-winning documentary film Crip Camp. The conference breakout sessions covered a wide variety of topics that celebrate backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences of Country Day students and beyond.
“My hope is that through participation in the conference activities, every student has a greater understanding of what it takes to be a true leader. These are important moments that prepare our students for success in an increasingly global and diverse world,” says Angela Joiner, director of equity, diversity, and inclusion & social-emotional learning. “The diversity conference directly reflects our school mission to create leaders who, through the discovery of their own abilities, kindle the potential of others and better a dynamic world.”
Student-led breakout sessions included Latin Music and Dance, Black Women and Black Hair, British Colonialism in India and Egypt, A Stateless Nation: History, Culture, and Resistance of the Kurds in Iran, First Generation Students, We’re Here, We’re Queer: LGBT+ History & Stigmas, Origins of Sappho, An Introduction to the European Migrant Situation, Modern Day Civil Rights Movements and Protests, Investigating Identity, and Race in Healthcare.
In addition to presenting as a keynote speaker on the topic “What Made You and What Will You Make?”, award-winning writer, comic, and speaker Haroon Moghul also led a breakout session on the topic “Modern Islam: An Extended Conversation.” Upper School faculty and staff led breakout sessions on the topics of Contested Landscapes: The Struggle over America's Historical Narrative, Mental Health and Wellness, and Music is Everything.
“The concept of diversity is not a new invention. And in this country, we are getting increasingly reflective and inclusive about who lives here. It’s something my generation started and yours is continuing,” says Moghul. “I would like you to consider your own stories and families and what makes you who you are. Think about the decisions the family members before you made and how they affected you and how your decisions will affect those who come after you. Acknowledge that you will be someone else's history. What are you doing to do with that knowledge?”
The morning began with an interactive panel discussion including Jourdan Jones `23, Vic Quintero `25, and Emma Valentin `23, who attended the NAIS 2022 People of Color Conference’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas this past fall.
“EDI is everyone’s work if we are ever going to break through the boundary of ignorance,” says Jones. “Every person has the need to feel valued and respected. It’s important that everyone feels they have a space at Country Day because you don’t realize how much you need it until you have it.”
Jason Harris and Peter Niehoff `05, representatives from LADD, Inc., introduced the film Crip Camp and talked through the major themes of the movie.
“We live in a society that has certain ways of thinking of something as being ‘right’ and builds systems around those ways of thinking and doing,” says Harris. “We have come a long way, but we still need to talk and think about those who have needs and how we can accommodate them because disability can happen to any of us.”
Country Day trustee and parent Dereck Gray, vice president of human resources, global finance & accounting at Procter & Gamble, gave an interactive closing keynote address and talked through some of the biggest challenges facing the world today and how they affect the business world.
“Working across diverse teams is not an option anymore,” explains Gray. “You need empathy to enable you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. The goal should always be to try to find common ground that you can build on together. If you only look at the world through your vantage point you will never be able to work well with others.”
The conference was started in 2018 by a former Country Day faculty member who wanted to expand the school’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) offerings and incorporate more student leadership.
“It is exciting to join forces with outside speakers, local alumni, and community partners to present a unique day of programming to our students and faculty, as well as guests from other local schools,” said Jenn Weinheimer, head of Upper School. “People showed up with open minds and ears and they were engaged in the work – something no one cannot force them to do. I saw people being vulnerable, authentically listening, and respecting each other with open attitudes and positivity. It was an incredibly impactful and thought-provoking day, and I’m proud of everyone for leaning into the conversations and the experience.”
Click here for pictures from the conference.