by Jenny B. '18 and Colby L. '17
We are Colby and Jenny, Lakeside's MIXED (Multicultural Initiators Experiencing and Enhancing Diversity) Club leaders.
This past spring, we were lucky enough to represent Lakeside in this year's Washington State Global Issues Network (WAGIN) Conference at Chief Sealth High School with high school students from around the world -- even students from Argentina and Chile. This year's conference focused on global issues that our generation faces and ways to take action to leave our world better than we found it. It was one of the most passion-filled events either of us have ever been to! We enjoyed being surrounded by other passionate and driven youth and we learned a ton about some global issues that we wouldn't even think about normally. We attended other students' workshops and heard several amazing keynote speakers including 16-year-old Aji Piper, who along with 20 other kids, sued the federal government for not properly addressing climate change, Nikkita Oliver, inspiring slam poet running for mayor of Seattle, and Benjamin Stein, a 17-year-old who invented the Nohbo Ball, a way to eliminate plastic waste from toiletry bottles.
Every student group participating in WAGIN also had to present a workshop, on a global issue of their choosing. So, we led a workshop on identity and how it changes in different contexts -- school, sports, home, place of worship, and even abroad, as well as cultural awareness when in different countries. We wanted to encourage students to consider the ways in which people experience certain parts of their identities in different contexts more than others. Colby shared her experience on GSL China, where she became more aware of her Chinese ethnicity than at home. Jenny's talked about her GSL Trip to the Dominican Republic, noting the shifts in societal and cultural norms as well her increased awareness of her identity as an American.
For one of our activities, we read off statements and asked them to move to one of the identifier signs that we had up around the room that best fit the statement for them. Some of the identifiers on the signs were race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, family structure, and body type.
Here are a couple excerpts from this exercise:
"I share this aspect of my identity with most of my friends at school."
"I wish we talked about this aspect of identity more at school."
"I feel most uncomfortable standing underneath this identity poster."
"I have thought about this aspect of my identity the most today"
The students in the workshop were extremely enthusiastic and engaged in our activities and speeches, generating deep and insightful conversation afterwards. The cultural, religious, and political diversity within the group was amazing and really helped to enhance our workshop. The conference was a great opportunity to share with other students about our experiences abroad and investigate issues of identity and culture, as well as to learn about tons of different global issues and meet amazing youth who are working to end them. We feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity and hope that more Lakeside students will be able to share this experience in years to come.