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Gaining Perspective

Trinity delegation to national diversity conferences build connections, tools for building inclusion
Six Trinity students and one faculty member participated in this winter’s diversity leadership and racial equity conferences hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) is a “multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders from across the U.S. and abroad.” Held virtually during the first week of December, the conference focused on self-reflecting and exploration as well as connecting with others from around the country, forming allies, and building a sense of community. The conference engages students through keynote speakers, as well as several different small groups throughout the week. Trinity's attendees were DJ Covington ’22, Andy Mutoti ’22, Camryn Sutton ’22, Chaz Sutton ’22, Jack Toscano ’22, and Olivia Whitbeck ’22.
Trinity students noted the collective sense of urgency and importance at this year's conference.  “There was a focus on the need to engage others in conversation to move topics forward,” said Toscano. “We spent a lot of time working on recognizing our identities and what makes us who we are and shapes our interactions.”
Chaz Sutton, attending for the second consecutive year, noted that the conference provides the unique opportunity to see students from all over the country who are experiencing similar challenges and to learn from one another and share ideas and support.  “This year I was able to listen closely to what peers are doing at other schools and think about our own work at Trinity and what will continue to move us forward,” he said.  
The students are eager to put strategies they learned into action at school and, as seniors, gave thought to the generations who will follow them and the community they will leave upon their graduation in May.   
Aparna Harger is a French teacher at Trinity and a member of the schools Diversity Equity And Inclusion advisory group. She attended NAIS’s concurrent People of Color Conference (POCC) for the first time this winter. The theme of the conference was "Reckoning with Impacts, Rolling with Just Intent," and themes across the workshops included the racial reckoning of 2020, and belonging, specifically in schools.
Harger says she was inspired and energized by other educators in the conference's workshops. A particularly memorable one was about how to teach students to navigate difficult conversations and approach challenging topics. She says she gained “concrete strategies for making social justice education accessible, meaningful, and relevant to everybody.”
“I have furthered my own knowledge and perspective regarding this work, and am able to apply it directly to my capacities as a TES DEI advisor as well as board member for Virginia Diversity Network,” said Harger. “It was an incredibly fulfilling experience for me personally and professionally.”

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