This year's Diversity Day took place on March 8, 2022. Students Lyric Swift '23 and Reza Moaddeli '23 share their reflections on their experiences from this year and the importance of this annual event.
Diversity Day has got to be one of the peak Regis Jesuit experiences and is a day that we look forward to as soon as the school year begins. It is an amazing experience where we all come together as one community to learn about new things. It is a day that is not just for the student body, but also for the faculty to gain a new and fresh perspective by hearing the stories that people are willing to share with us. Though both juniors, we had slightly different experiences this year as one of us was purely a participant and one was a workshop presenter. Both experiences offered us opportunities to grow.
The keynote speakers are always intriguing and really set the tone for the day. We still remember the keynote from freshman year: Sr. Helen Prejean. Sr. Helen is a pro-life activist who speaks against the death penalty. Her speech was a powerful life lesson on the importance of human life. The compassion Sr. Helen has for every person is an admirable trait that we can all learn from. This year, we hosted Ms. Gloria Purvis, who had a very similar message. Ms. Purvis is an African-American author, commentator and host of the Gloria Purvis Podcast hosted by AMERICA Media. She spoke to us about the intersectionality of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and being pro-life. She was very clear that both deal with the importance of human life. She was equally clear that we all bring so many things to who we are as people.
Diversity Day is truly one of the parts of Regis Jesuit that teaches the whole person. The keynote speakers share things that we are going through and already have encountered in our day-to-day lives. We are introduced to ideas that come from a variety of cultures and perspectives on things we have been taught and those that are outside of our normal experiences, but everything touches on who we are as humans in this world.
Beyond the keynote, we love the different options for the great workshop sessions Diversity Day allows us to engage in. If there is a topic you’d like to learn more about, there is most likely a workshop for it. Getting the chance to be with our friends, pick great sessions and learn about new things all in one day makes it exciting. We often wish Diversity Day was Diversity Week instead because there are so many good workshops it is hard to choose just three. We stressed picking our workshops this year until we remembered that it’s not about what sessions you pick. You could pick the “worst” one and still have a great experience because you get out what you put into it. Diversity Day teaches you that everyone’s story is different, and everyone has challenges that help them get where there are. We learned that in all our sessions this year.
Lyric's Reflection One of the things that challenged me to grow during Diversity Day, besides being presented with all the new ideas and possibilities, was stepping out of my comfort zone and picking sessions that my friends were not attending. I knew that if I picked different sessions, it would help me focus and also grow because I would not be worried about what my friends are doing. One of the workshops that really resonated with me this year was “Real Life Conversations With Mrs. Ames.” It was a panel discussion with several people who willingly shared their stories and the lesson that they learned from their experiences. It was really powerful. The main lesson that I learned was that you cannot let your past define you. What you can do is start where you are now and continue from there to make a better life for yourself. It is never too late to change your life; you just have to have the courage to try.
Leading a workshop this year was amazing. In November, I went to Washington DC for the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) with a group of students from Regis Jesuit. IFTJ is a gathering of students from all over the country who are committed to working for justice as our Catholic faith calls us to do. At IFTJ, we listened to a speech from Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest who works at Fordham University and is a leader in the field of theological ethics. He spoke on wage gaps and the ways that the gap affects Black vs. white Americans differently.
Fr. Massingale shared about a game he plays with his college students that is a spin-off of Monopoly. Depending on the piece you choose at the beginning, you are assigned a predetermined set of money and social setbacks. The idea is to simulate how in America, depending on whether you are born white or nonwhite, you are extended different privileges and amenities. After we returned from the Teach-In this year, our delegation decided to offer a workshop at Diversity Day to share this game with our peers and then have a conversation about it. After we played a round of the game, our discussion was awesome. It was nice to see the students recognize how unfair things can be for some people.
Even after we leave Regis Jesuit, Diversity Day will always be one of the things that we remember because it is simply amazing. It is truly inspiring, and we are excited to be a part of the planning next year as seniors.
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