Respect, acceptance, and appreciation: the diversity conference

Sacred Heart Greenwich partnered with The Ursuline School to co-host this year’s diversity conference November 8 and 9.  Girls of different backgrounds and cultures came together at the conference to encourage respect, acceptance, and appreciation for diversity in schools and communities, according to

The conference was an overnight event at St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center in Kearny, New Jersey.  A total of 15 Upper School students from Sacred Heart, including many members of Club Aware, attended the conference.  These students explored current issues of diversity with their peers from the Ursuline School.

Students from Sacred Heart Greenwich and The Ursuline School participate in a small group discussion. Courtesy of The Ursuline School

At the conference, students gave presentations on social issues and current political movements such as colorism, Islamophobia, mass incarceration, immigration, sexual identity, cultural appropriation, body shaming, and Title IX.

Students listened to these presentations and discussed in one large group before breaking into small groups to further their conversations.  Throughout the conference, students also spent time reflecting independently through journaling.
This year, Sacred Heart seniors Ludnie Rene, Lauren Hay, and Nia Foster led the conference.  Ludnie has attended a total of four diversity conferences throughout her Sacred Heart career.  For many students including Ludnie, diversity conferences serve as a safe environment to share opinions that they might not have the opportunity to share in a school setting.

“I get to meet new people and engage in sensitive conversations that are typically overlooked in school,” Ludnie said.  “The leaders create a no-judge zone, meaning the students are free to speak their mind to spark discussion, and I get to hear ideas and perspectives from many different people.”

Club Aware, led by Ludnie and Nia, along with juniors Nicole Tapia and Zada Brown, is a club dedicated to diversity at Sacred Heart.  Goal Three of the school’s mission, “a social awareness which impels to action,” is the club’s main guiding principle.  Zada attended the Diversity Conference Thursday and Friday, and she felt that the conference was a moving experience.

“The most meaningful part of the diversity conference for me was meeting so many people who had different stories and different experiences, yet realizing that we had so much in common,” Zada said.

A student of The Ursuline School writes a journal reflection. Courtesy of The Ursuline School

This is the first time that some members of Club Aware, such as Junior Rachael Ali, attended a diversity conference.

“I decided to attend the Diversity Conference because I believe that as an American, it is my civic duty to learn about issues that affect other Americans, so I can become a more socially conscious citizen and make decisions that will benefit everyone,” Rachael said.

Junior Cassidy Willie-Lawes was another one of the 15 Sacred Heart students to attend the Diversity Conference, and she feels that this year’s conference had a significant impact on her.  

“If I were able to go [to the diversity conference] again, I would jump at the chance,” Cassidy said.  “I hope to be able to inspire people in the future in the way that the conference inspired me.”

Featured image by Sydney Kim