Earlier this fall, 10 Upper School students and three faculty members spent their Saturday at the Mid Atlantic Region Diversity Conference (MARD), hosted by Abington Friends School. The conference consisted of randomized family-groups, race-based affinity groups, a silent movement activity centered around identity, a keynote address by renown speaker, Rodney Glasgow, and a closing Quaker Meeting, where students were able to express how they were feeling at the conclusion of the conference. What follows is a sampling of Baldwin students’ reflections upon the conference:
“My experience at MARD was amazing! It was way more impactful, uplifting and inspiring than I anticipated it would be. I especially enjoyed the Quaker Meeting. When Rodney said that you would feel a quivering sensation, I though ‘oh sure,’ but my heart actually started beating faster! It was such a great experience and I highly recommend it to others.” Alexis Mosley-McLemore ’17
“At MARD we did a silent activity where people stepped in and out of a circle if different things applied to them. We all stood around the perimeter of the gym, and when something applied to us, we stepped into the center of the circle. We were told to look at who joined us in the circle and to look who remained outside the circle. Some examples of things we stepped in for were race, religion, economic status, family structure and more. From this activity I learned the true meaning of not judging a book by its cover. Many people stepped in for things you would not expect, and their vulnerability was inspirational.” – Haley Tavares ’18
“Although I’ve previously had the privilege of attending the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, of which Rodney is the director, MARD helped me gain new perspectives in my understanding of diversity. It was really great to see Rodney again because I always enjoy his meaningful messages. I was able to attend a student-led workshop called ‘For Colored Girls’ that combined my two biggest minority groups, being black and being female. This workshop gave me the opportunity to relate to my ‘sisters’ through meaningful discussions. I really enjoyed the Meeting for Worship at the end of the conference; it was a touching reflection and conclusion to an unforgettable day.”- Bria Beauvais ’18
“Diversity and inclusion work, to me, is important and essential to every community. I learned first hand that education is key to understanding different cultures, race, religion and sexuality. I have been offended in my life because people haven’t been educated on certain diversity subjects. Therefore, they don’t know that some things can be offensive to a certain race/religion/culture, etc. This conference helped me learn more about other diversity subjects. Furthermore, this conference helped me to open up about my personal experiences. Finally, MARD helped me connect with different people, which betters my understanding of the crazy world we live in.” – Maya Hairston ’18
The group that I was in asked thought-provoking questions that I pondered about for the rest of the day. I wondered, ‘are some of my problems really that bad compared to other people’s situations?’ I learned that everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different opinions on certain topics (including the election). People should feel free to voice their opinion and share what they think. Many people could use advice and guidance from others. No situation is too small to be brought up and discussed, even if people are going through tougher times.
I think Baldwin should continue the diversity lunch discussions. Bringing up these important and controversial topics will spark an interest within people, and these people may have thought-provoking conversations about it with others.” – Anoushka Gidh ‘19
“For me, the most meaningful part of MARD was seeing the student leadership, and I hope that is something we can emulate at Baldwin. The entire conference was led by AFS and Perkiomen students who encouraged us to have an open dialogue with students who had gathered to enthusiastically and critically discuss important issues. We were divided into smaller “family groups,” which were led by students, we were able to choose workshops that were led by students, and the affinity groups were also led by students. This encouraging atmosphere allowed me to feel comfortable analyzing difficult situations and share my opinions with students who have a similar mindset as myself. I sincerely hope to have a diversity day/conference at Baldwin, modeled very similarly to MARD and have students take action in creating safe and dynamic spaces to have productive conversations about how to better our future.” – Nira Kotay ‘19