On Sunday, March 3, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency Joan Edwards, along with the help of student organizers junior Josie Pinero and senior Ananya Alleyne, hosted Kingswood Oxford’s first Students of Color Summit where students of all races could speak openly about their thoughts.
The student-led summit attracted many students of color from different backgrounds. Ms. Edwards said that a combination of independent and private schools attended. “We had 60 people sign up, but we had some schools that weren’t able to make it,” she said. Even without the missing schools, more than 40 students attended. Throughout this event, there were many small and large discussion groups running.
The event started with icebreakers followed by panels about separate topics. Some topics included, “breaking the status quo,” “bursting the narrative,” and “showing strength where weakness is expected.” After a short break for lunch, the students broke off into affinity groups with leaders to speak personally about a specific topic. Each group spoke about issues, approaches, and other observations which tied the summit together. The main goal of the summit was to have a student-led discussion about cultures.
Co-founder of the Girls of Color club Ananya had similar goals for the summit. She said she believed it would show that students of a similar race can relate to others with similar ideas, problems, and solutions. She talked about the environment they tried to create in discussions at the summit. “People knowing that they’re not the only one who thinks that way about something and not like there’s a lot of other people sharing the same ideas is nice,” she said.
The creation of the Kingswood Oxford Students of Color Summit was planned after KO students attended a similar type of event at the Loomis Chaffee School. “I know when we were at the summit at Loomis, it was just a lot of fun and you’re able to speak about things you don’t get to speak about normally,” Ananya said. She said that this was the main reason she and the other organizers hosted a Students of Color Summit at KO.
Ms. Edwards and Ananya had different takes on the number of people in sessions at the summit. “I like that there were fewer people in smaller groups,” Ananya said. “People were able to talk and speak up because there weren’t as many people there, and then when you’re in smaller discussion, everyone is able to talk more.” On the other hand, Ms. Edwards said she believes if even more students attended, then the summit would open up to even richer conversations, with more ideas and thoughts.
Freshman Amrita Natarajan said it was a great opportunity. “I liked how everyone was able to come together and share their stories. I felt really connected with the other students, and I felt it was really important to hear the other students’ experiences,” she said.
Ms. Edwards, Ananya, and Amrita felt the same about why people should come to the summit in the future. “I think it is a nice way for people to learn more about each other and each other’s cultures and communities,” Amrita said. Ananya said she enjoyed the summit. “It feels like a different atmosphere, and people can be very open,” Ananya said. The final result of the summit was an outstanding success and the people that attended the event enjoyed it.
“Overall it let people know they’re not the only ones who think the same way about something, and there are a lot more people who share the same ideas and think that way,” Ananya said. Together, the summit organizers said they agreed that it was a good time and people learned a lot about other people’s cultures. The success of this year’s summit provides an indication of making this an annual event for KO.