SDLC Leaders prepare for Peace and Social Justice Day

04/20/18 02:44:pm
| Category: News

Set to span the entire school day on May 4, Peace and Social Justice (PSJ) Day represents Mirman’s commitment to issues of diversity, inclusivity, equity, and social justice come to life in the classroom. With workshops that run the gamut from examining gender identity to exploring stereotypes to immigration theory, there’s truly something for everyone, in every grade level, in the day’s packed schedule.

More information and a complete schedule for the day, themed “Listen Up, Speak Up, Stand Up: Using Your Voice to Empower Yourself and Others,” is forthcoming. In the meantime, there are a group of dedicated student leaders who are spending not just their spring, but their entire school year, creating and preparing to facilitate this program. They are the Student Diversity Leadership Council (SDLC) — a cadre comprised of US4 students Celene A., Otto D., Sydney F., Riley H., William M., Ella W., and Lennox W. Earlier this year, the faculty-nominated group traveled along with Mirman faculty and administrators to the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Anaheim, where they attended workshops and affinity groups to explore their own identities, as well as spent time building skills to bring back cross-cultural strategies to better affect social change and justice. They also had the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers like writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as to flex their own facilitation muscles while leading Mirman’s faculty and staff in activities similar to what will take place on PSJ Day. Upon their return, they also presented to parents, the Board of Trustees, and faculty/staff about their experience.

It was easy to see the impact that conference had on the students, who reported staying up until all hours in their hotel rooms talking over what they’d learned and experienced during the day. But a crucial part of the experience of being tapped for SDLC is importing as much of that experience as possible to Mirman for their fellow students and other community members to enjoy and explore. And while the time spent preparing for PSJ Day — including weekly meetings with Director of Inclusivity and Equity Connie Chiu — is no small task, these student leaders are certainly up for the challenge.

“In this day and age there are a lot of things going on in the world, and it can be difficult to keep up with all of those happenings,” said Sydney F. “I think that being able to communicate with your peers and talk about important issues surrounding justice is important. We need to share ideas and open up people’s minds, expand their horizons about things they might not have heard of.”

The student leaders came back from the conference invigorated and ready to share their perspective and learnings with the wider Mirman community. In the microcosm of their own class, said Ella W., the skills they took from the conference (and will apply to PSJ Day) have already come in handy, allowing the students to navigate some courageous conversations in and out of the classroom. “One thing we learned at the conference is how to have a civil conversation so that you can get your point across but you’re not trying to change the other person’s view,” said Ella. “You just try to get them to see your point of view and then you try to understand their point of view.”

The rich diversity of viewpoints is part of what makes the SDLC conference, as with PSJ Day, such a transformative experience for the students who attend. “I think it just helped me be more aware,” said Otto D. of his experience at the conference. “Listening to all these stories from people who experienced a lot of social injustice firsthand really helped enlighten me.”

“You learn a lot of things you wouldn’t have the opportunity to know otherwise,” added Riley H.

We’re looking forward to learning just as much from our SDLC leaders as they learned from the SLDC conference on May 4.