On Feb. 7, St. Mary’s Academy High School celebrated global learning and cultural inclusivity with an entire day of speakers and activities illustrating different cultures and social issues “Leading with the Heart: Building Inclusive Communities” was the theme for the 17th Annual Cultural Diversity Day. High school students Ali Lupiba and Kierstyn Leo, co-presidents of the Common Ground Club, opened the 2018 Cultural Diversity Day program. Leo remarked, “Today is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new.”
Sam El Hindi, asset manager at Zargo Invest, Jennifer-Millett Barrett, president of Dream on International, and Bill Barrett, president of St. Mary’s Academy, were the featured speakers, presenting issues of diversity within a global context.
“Question the insecurities that stem from being original,” El Hindi told the students. Her speech, “How Do Your Assumptions Hold You Back” focused on how labels impede our connections with one another. El Hindi shared her own experience living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during a 2003 terrorist attack.
Students had the opportunity to participate in two breakout sessions featuring a variety of speakers who helped them reveal the power of their own assumptions.
Jennifer Millet-Barrett and Bill Barrett’s discussed their work with women and children in Ghana and Nigeria and spoke of the Dream on Residential Home and schoolhouses. Barrett reminded students, “Everyone has a story: everyone has a desire for dignity, respect, and common decency.”
While most of the day was devoted to serious issues, a fashion show, talent show, and international food sampling provided the opportunity for students to share their heritage with their classmates.
The day ended with a performance by the Roshni Dance Ensemble, whose vision is promoting empathy through the arts.
The annual Diversity Day encouraged St. Mary’s Academy High School students to understand the lives of other people and their own lives as well.
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