Over Labor Day weekend, Class 17 gathered to put their year of training and immersive experiences into action, and provide a transformative program for Cultural Leadership’s annual Courageous Conversations event. The conversations are meant to give families, friends, and community members a chance to step out of their comfort zones, confront their own biases, and encourage growth and understanding while sharing their perspective to a group of mostly strangers. These student-led sessions broach difficult topics including microaggressions, the cycle of oppression, intersectionality, and more.
Courageous conversations are the culmination of the final retreat, and an opportunity for High School Leadership Program participants to step into the facilitator role and create their very own program. Their duty is to lead their audience in exploring difficult topics while maintaining respect for each individual and new ideas. Students practice thoroughly to facilitate their subject with an ultimate goal of leaving their group curious and inspired to learn more.
This year, students utilized personal experiences as a starting point to guide their conversations. One team broached bias through discussing stereotypes and hidden narratives, while another used intersectionality as a lens to deconstruct how dress code enforcement indirectly targets Black girls. Each group set norms including, “What is said here, stays here; What is learned here, leaves here” and “Listen with the intent to understand.” Coupled with probing questions and activities, students successfully led discussions that transcended generations, religions, politics, and more. Great job, Class 17!