On Sunday, Nov. 4, Loomis Chaffee School hosted the SPHERE Students of Color event for youth of color who go to college preparatory schools in Connecticut. KO sent seven girls from the Girls Group of Color club, and the event proved to be a success with teens of all different races coming together to talk about what it’s like to be a student of color.
Other schools that sent students to this included local schools such as Avon Old Farms, Watkinson, and Ethel Walker. Three keynote speakers, all of them Loomis faculty, spoke about what their identities meant to them and how it shaped them to be the people they are today.
A very prominent theme throughout the event was how students and faculty at private schools have been forced to face obstacles in their careers or lives that white peers would not even begin to fathom or understand. It meant a lot to the students that these people in high positions were talking about the hurdles they have had to jump over. They spoke about how being put into these situations and boxes had impacted their lives and helped shape them into the people they are now. They didn’t let those hurdles stop them from doing what they love.
After the speeches, the students were broken into groups divided by race and ethnicity to discuss challenges, pros and cons, and stereotypes that they have faced as being part of a minority group. They also spoke about how students could raise awareness for the certain struggles that their minority groups have to deal with on a daily basis.
Junior Esha Shrivastav, who was in the Asian group, enjoyed the topics of conversation that came up in her group. “My peers and I talked about the advantages that come with being a model minority,” Esha said, “as well as the pressures it puts on us as members of the Asian community.”
Junior Josie Pinero loved the discussions held in her group too. “In the Latino group, we spoke about a lot, everything we go through day to day. It was really nice to have someone there that you can connect with.”
Then the students split into what were called “unconferences.” These were student-led discussions that covered topics such as intersectionality, code switching, and colorism. Esha was in the colorism one and was happy to discuss some of the issues that came up, such as how people with different skin tones in the same ethnicity were treated better or worse, and how these mentalities are spread through popular culture and media.
Towards the end of the event, there was an open mic performance. A number of students performed songs that they had written, as well as spoken word pieces, which were very moving to audience members, as they felt for a lot of what the students were writing, singing, and talking about.
Josie said she liked the fact that at the conference, she wasn’t the minority anymore, but instead she was in the majority.
KO’s Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency Joan Edwards said that the purpose of the event was to get students of color to talk to others who share alike experiences. Sophomore Rinese Sterling felt that the event accomplished this goal. “It was really great to see how many people were similar to me and shared similar experiences.”
Lots of people who went to the event thought it was very impactful and were glad they could attend. “I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go to the conference,” Esha said. Josie said she would love to hold one at KO as well to spread awareness and foster similar conversations within the community.