Gann Sends Delegation to NAIS People of Color Conference
Founded with a mission of Jewish pluralism, Gann Academy embraces the richness that comes from building a diverse community. Today, diversity at Gann goes well beyond the religious dimension and includes differences in socioeconomics, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and political affiliation. Students explore their commonalities and differences in an environment of trust, curiosity, and growth.
One such exploration is the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The conference focuses on self-reflection, forming alliances, and creating community, and ultimately on building social justice through dialogue. This year, three Gann students joined the sold-out crowd of 1,600 high school students from around the country.
The students felt empowered not only by the formal program but also by the very existence of this vast cross-cultural gathering. Zoey '20 describes the conference as a "powerful community" unafraid to support or challenge others' ideas on the world. "Hearing the stories of others and recognizing both the similarities and differences helped me better understand my own identity and the core social identifiers I associate with," said Zoey.
At the end of each day, the Gann delegation met to debrief and reflect on the day. For Maria Graciela Alcid, Learning Center Department Chair and chaperone, this reflection time was the highlight of the conference. "As an educator," said Alcid, "I was particularly moved to hear the level of critical thought on content, the nuanced use of language, the confidence in their voices and narratives, and the focused intentions about the learnings they hope to bring back to Gann."
Running concurrent to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, educators participated in the NAIS People of Color Conference. For the second year in a row, Alcid led a session—this year on the Filipina American Decolonization Experience—and served as the Affinity Host Group Lead Facilitator for the Asian Pacific Islander Group. Alcid was joined at the conference this year by colleague Aki Yonekawa, Associate Dean of Jewish Education for Jewish Life, who was attending for the first time.