Earlier this month, St. Margaret's TIDE members attended Wildwood School’s 9th Annual Multicultural Symposium, a daylong, annual event for grade 7-12 students from across Los Angeles. Wildwood School is a progressive Kindergarten through grade 12 school in the heart of Los Angeles. Split into two campuses, multiculturalism is a core value at the school. The term is used to refer to an ongoing process of creating an inclusive, supportive community that embraces diversity. Wildwood's commitment to creating a dynamic multicultural community involves a comprehensive approach that includes students, parents, faculty and staff.
The symposium was planned and led by student organizers in collaboration with the school’s Director of Multicultural Affairs Rasheda Carroll. The student organizers share a strong desire to advance a greater understanding and appreciation of multicultural themes including race, gender, sexual orientation, social justice, and more. This year’s symposium included professional and student performances, more than 40 breakout sessions, and Keynote Speaker Andrea Gibson, an award-winning poet and activist. Her poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today's society.
Workshop presenters included The Trevor Project, Union Rescue Mission, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, YouThink, and many more.
The multicultural symposium workshops are intended to reflect many of the dimensions of self. They include topics such as ability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, intercultural communication, multicultural identity, self-expression, advocacy and social justice, to name a few. The presenters shared their expertise, personal stories, and passions with the hope of encouraging the community to immerse itself in diversity, embracing both the challenges and rewards that multiculturalism brings.
Along with TIDE students, I attended a range of workshops that included Tai Chi, Exploring White Identity through Film, Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High, Discrimination in Sports, Disability Disorder or Difference, Insights Into the Mind and Racialization, Ethnocentrism and Nationalism, among others.
A member of TIDE and St. Margaret's junior Enrique Loya reflected on the day saying, "I really enjoyed the symposium; It was well put together and well managed. I am still surprised that it was led by high school students. Learning about food justice really opened my eyes to what is going on not just in south Los Angeles, but also in Orange County."
I was reminded in one of my workshops that communication is key in every aspect of our lives and how we react determines the outcome; to operate mindfully can change an outcome. I was given some tools to help not just in difficult conversations, but in interactions in general. Upon our return, I immediately shared these tools with TIDE, knowing that they would benefit us in our work and day to day communications.