Last Saturday, 14 Upper School students attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Diversity Conference (MARD) at The Perkiomen School. The goal of the conference was to have a regional student-led diversity experience which included racial and cultural affinity groups, student-led discussions, a keynote address from noted activist and speaker, Rodney Glasgow, and time for fun and fellowship. Please read reflections from Jack Lutostanky ’19 and Mona Ziabari ’22 below.
MARD from the perspective of Jack Lutostansky ’19
My experience at MARD was an eye-opening one for me. The whole goal of the conference, which was put forward by the organizers at the beginning of the day, was to have hard conversations and make them productive ones rather than yelling at people and getting upset as many people do today. School groups came from across the Tri-State Area and one of the things that made this day so productive was the varying backgrounds everyone came from.
One of the hardest conversations that I had during MARD was at a workshop where we talked about the use of language in comedy by comparing two skits by Louis CK and Aamer Rahman. The discussion slowly morphed into another discussion about America’s systematic oppression of minorities and the daily struggles which are caused by this oppression. This was one of the hardest conversations that I had during MARD.
Many of the issues brought up I was in the blue about. I had no clue how bad they were until I heard about them from people my age. Even though these issues are important to talk about, most people do not discuss them with each other. That is why with the work that the newly formed diversity committee at MA, I hope to have these difficult discussions with all of you so that we can grow as learners as well as citizens of the US and the world.
Some of the people I met during this event said they had friends that were hesitant to come because they did not feel they had a place in a discussion about diversity because of their race or background. I encourage everyone to come to a conference like this. My realization at the end of the day is that at Moravian we are not exposed to many of the issues that plague our country. Go out into the world and be uncomfortable. This discomfort will lead to a better understanding of the issues that are affecting America today.
MARD from the perspective of Mona Ziabari ’22
This past Saturday I attended the MARD conference and I’m extremely glad I did. I heard Lizzie Stifel ’19 talking about it briefly so I knew the theme was “diversity,” but I had no idea 400+ people on a wide spectrum of diversity and different races would be in attendance. I spent the majority of the day in three workshops of my choosing: feminism, diverse media, and a multiracial affinity group.
In the feminism workshop, we talked about problems young women, like me, face on a daily basis because of societal constructs. It was a great time to connect with other girls facing the same issues of clothing, jobs, and life expectations. The diverse media workshop intrigued me the most as I am considering going into acting. We discussed the lack of diversity in acting and directing and how that affects the end product of a movie. I learned that on average Asian actors only get cast in 1-2% of all roles, which is pretty low. I hope that this will change in the future.
I am half Iranian and half Chinese, so I chose my final workshop to be the multiracial affinity group. I was surprised by how much we all related to each other. Even though we were all very different, we had all experienced similar problems like feeling disconnected from one of your races compared to the other or the fact that people always assume what race you are for you. It was a great time to come together and understand our differences and commonalities.
Overall my experience at MARD was amazing and I definitely plan on attending the conference for the years to come!