Middle School Diversity Conference - 2017

This conference is closed.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Fenn School, Concord, MA

Theme: Finding Your Voice in the Noise

Keynote: Speaker - Bich Minh-Nguyen

Bich Minh Nguyen (pronounced Bit Min New-`win), who often goes by Beth, was a baby when her family fled Vietnam on April 29, 1975. They eventually settled in Michigan, where Nguyen grew up. These experiences formed the basis of her memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, which received the PEN/Jerard Award and was named a best book of the year by The Chicago Tribune. Nguyen has appeared on programs such as PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the prevalent themes in her book—immigration, food, and family—and how they relate to so many other areas of life. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner has also been selected for numerous all-college and all-community reads.

Her first novel, Short Girls, was published by Penguin in 2010; it received an American Book Award and was named a Library Journal best book. Nguyen’s most recent book is the novel Pioneer Girl, published by Viking in 2014, about a Vietnamese-American family with mysterious ties to the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder family. Nguyen’s work has also appeared in the New York Times, the FOUND anthology, and the Huffington Post. She also coedited three anthologies: 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years (Penguin Academic), Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye (Longman), and The Contemporary American Short Story (Longman).

Click here to order Beth's book - Stealing Buddha's Dinner

Workshop Choices

1. Butterfly Circus: How our Students diversity committees shape Fenn Culture
Members of the Fenn School Students’ diversity committees will share their intentional efforts to influence Fenn culture through their work as leaders in the Student Diversity Committees. Fenn's Diversity Committees develop leaders by instilling a sense of agency in the boys. As students develop leadership skills, their confidence as future leaders of this country grows. Through the use of the film short “Butterfly circus,” students identify qualities and skills they will need to grow into leaders of their communities. Presenters and workshop participants will also share methods, programs, initiatives through which they have influenced their communities to become more inclusive and informed.

2. "The What, How and Why of Being an Ally"
As a student, leadership can take many forms. Whatever your privilege, you can be a leader as an ally. In this workshop, we will talk about what it means to be an ally, how to be an effective ally, and why being an ally is a vital form of leadership and support. This workshop is for anybody who wants to learn ways to use their empathy, courage and other skills to support friends and fellow human beings who identify as people of color, LGBTQ+, and other groups at risk of being marginalized.
Adam Van der Sluis, Nashoba Brooks School, Director of Alumni & Community Engagement

3. “Fencing and its life lessons
Fencing has much to offer in life lessons: thinking on your feet, dealing with a problem right here in the moment, thinking tactically to surmount the obstacle. Then again, the astute fencer will often learn that they are their own obstacles at times. And of course- fencing requires one to be responsible for his or her own actions.
Andy Bloch, Owner

4. “Our Common DNA
Do you know that you have 98% of your DNA in common with a chimpanzee? Do you know that every human being shares 99% of their DNA with every other human? Yes, humans embrace diversity but at our core we are all more similar than different.By following a science protocol in this hands-on lab experience, you will extract DNA and create a necklace to wear that expresses our common humanity.After this exciting and interactive workshop you will walk away with a sample of your DNA, and you will come to realize the power of shared genes.
David Duane, Head of Science Dept., The Fenn School

5. “Building Bridges: Portraits of immigrants and Refugees”
Building Bridges, an exhibition featuring photographs and interviews with people who have come to the United States as immigrants or refugees from all over the world,seeks to challenge damaging myths and stereotypes. By “hearing" immigrant and refugee voices, we will seek to better understand and empathize with personal experiences. Through a gallery walk, small group exercises, and discussion, workshop participants will be invited to see into the lives of others whose experiences might be different from their own (windows), as well as see themselves and their own experiences reflected (mirrors). Participants will come away with concrete ways to respond to bullying and hatred toward this increasingly marginalized group of people.
Liz Wei, Lower School Teacher, The Fenn School

6. “Adinkra Designs: The Power of Proverbs and Symbols”
Create your own strip of Adinkra-printed cloth using the designs developed by the Akan people of Ghana. Learn about these culturally significant symbols that represent human virtues, feelings and actions to create your own message through art, as the Ashanti people of Ghana have done for years. Use this fabric-printing technique to make symbolic commentary on a personal or societal matter that concerns YOU! Your patterned artwork will be made from printing hand-made Adinkra stamps onto unbleached muslin with black fabric ink.
Elizabeth Updike Cobblah, Art Teacher, Fenn School,

7. “Auditing for Change: How to Make Your Campus More Accessible for All”
Have you ever stopped to think about how accessible your campus is for people with disabilities? If you were a wheelchair user, if you were blind, or hard of hearing or had a learning disability, how would you navigate your school? This workshop is designed to empower students to become change agents for their school. You will learn how to perform a campus-wide accessibility audit and how to make recommendations to your school’s administration. You will also learn how to better put yourselves in others’ shoes and build your capacity for greater empathy in the process.
John Sharon. Chair of Social Studies, The Fenn School

8. “The power of Silent Messages and our Identities”
How can art be used to raise awareness of problems in society? How can art be used to fight stereotypes? Social commentary can be direct, or expressed in nonliteral ways so that the viewer interprets the message in a personal way. In this workshop, participants will learn how art can silently say so much about a person and society. Participants will discuss aspects of their identities that they recognize and respect but may not be in a position to share often. They will do exercises to build up pride and understanding about who they are, and use photography to express themselves, sending silent but powerful messages to fight stereotypes in their communities. This workshop will end up with photographs of participants and their messages displayed and shown in a video at the end of the conference.
Matt Ward, Social Studies Teacher, The Fenn School

9. “What About Those Statues? Can We Change the Story? Charlottesville and Social Justice”
When a statue is erected, it acts to highlight values, experiences and people that the organization or government wants to make sure we remember, and perhaps celebrate. After the events this summer in Charlottesville, what do the large number of monuments that honor Confederate soldiers or battles tell us about our current culture? What role do monuments and memorials have in expressing a culture’s values and shaping its memory?What viewpoint is ignored fictionalized or intentionally left out?Can the creation of new monuments reshape collective memory and transform communities? A discussion of the history, purpose, and impact of these memorials will lead us to action. We can change the story. Using tools and materials in the Fenn makerspace, small groups of students will design and construct models of NEW monuments that could help unite our country and refocus the discussion on our American values of diversity, equality, inclusion, and justice.
Pauline MacLellan, Science teacher/Makerspace, The Fenn School

10. “Days of Waiting”
During World War II,over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forcibly relocated from the West Coast, to different concentration camps. Artist Estelle Ishigo refused to be separated from her husband, and went with her Japanese American husband into an internment camp. She was one of the few Caucasians to do so. At the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, she documented her experience through her art. Ishigo’s story and work inspire great discussions and reflection in the documentary “Days of waiting.” Using this documentary as a starting point, workshop attendees will participate in a discussion on social justice, community building and civil responsibility, and also participate in an art exercise which will require reflection, empathy, and examine other constructive ways to channel knowledge into activism.
Kwame Cobblah, History Teacher, The Pike

11. “Race and Gender in Graphic Novels Cancelled
Graphic novels are awesome! Do you enjoy reading them? As a student, have you paid much attention to what you read as well as how people and places are represented? Whether you read graphic novels or not, come to this workshop and explore the depictions of race and gender in graphic novels. This workshop is a hands-on workshop where students will examine the drawings of characters in many popular graphic novels and dive into a fascinating discussion about the ways in which race and gender are currently portrayed.
Liza Halley, Asst. Librarian, The Fenn School

12. “Tips and Tricks for Up Standers when the Going Gets Tough”
Have you ever been so shocked by a rude or mean comment that you don’t know what to say? Have you ever seen someone treat someone in a way you don’t like but you just stand there because you don’t know what to do? Have you ever been angered by someone else’s views on a topic and tried to change their mind but the conversation leaves a bad vibe for everyone?In this interactive workshop you will learn and practice different strategies for being an up-stander no matter the situation. You will watch some video clips, share though-provoking stories, do some role-playing, and have some take-home items to help you be an equity-for-all hero.
Sam Kane, Head Librarian, The Fenn School

13. “Stereotypes & Muslim Women”
The objective of this workshop is to equip students with the skills to critically examine stereotypes of marginalized people, specifically in regards to what we believe about Muslim women. There is a dominant narrative that Muslim women are docile, oppressed, submissive, and in need of saving. In reality many stereotypes are grounded in misconceptions. Students will learn how our opinions, perspectives view of the world, are shaped by the information we are exposed to (news, books, etc) and sometimes our lived experiences.As a student, how do you know what is true? How do you counter these stereotypes? Come find the answers.
Bouchra Danielkebir, Diversity Intern/Social Studies Teacher, The Fenn School

14. “Power of Dyslexia: From Being Misunderstood and Misjudged to being Proud of Who I Am:”
Have you tried to read a text where the words looked like this: Waht ew tinhk dyslexia kloos like? Now, imagine living your whole life trying to read in this manner. How would you feel if people constantly made fun of you for struggling with reading and writing? Did you know that dyslexia is the most common learning difference amongst school-aged children in the U.S.? This workshop will focus on learning differences, such as dyslexia, a part of one’s identity that is often invisible or overlooked. Workshop attendees will receive a basic overview of dyslexia as a learning difference, and participate in exercises to experience first hand what it may feel like to learn with dyslexia. The workshop will end with a panel discussion led by students with dyslexia who will share personal experiences with learning differences.
PJ Cummings, Dallas Rachel, Paloma Harker, Hans Tomlin, Stacey Santos, Osamagbe Osagie, Larry Brown, and Allison Harmon

15.“Speaking Your Truth on Stage”
Performance has played an important in role social justice movements by shining the spotlight on important stories that are often left out of mainstream media. In this workshop, students will take the stage by engaging in powerfully fun theater activities that will unite people of all backgrounds, and by developing a performance piece about issues that are important to us.
Rosalie Norris, Drama Teacher, The Fenn School

16. Caribbean Hip Hop
Caribbean Hip Hop is a mixture of both cultures. The Caribbean “flava” up-beat sounds combined with a full body Hip Hop style of dance. Both of these unique cultures have a direct influence on each other and have a deeper rooted meaning that’s a reflection of the people. Caribbean Hip Hop is a fun, constant energetic movement that consists of a meaningful work out!
Kassandra Rateau, Director/Choreographer, Bcity Reps Dance Studio

17. Breakdancing
Breakdancing also called breaking or b-boying, is an athletic style of street dance. While diverse in the amount of variation available in the dance, breakdancing mainly consists of four kinds of movement: toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. Breakdancing is typically set to hip-hop, funk, and break beat music.

18.“A Conversation with Beth” Author and Keynote Speaker.

19. Theater and Social Justice
Explore a social justice theme through performance. During our time together we will create and perform scenes to help us unpack a social justice issue. We will use performance to help an audience understand different points of view and raise important questions about unequal power structures in our world. No acting experience required. Just be yourself!
Trisha Gordon, Drama Teacher, Pike School

Performance by BCity Reps Dance Crew

9:15 - 9:40 Registration - Breakfast
9:45 - 11:00 Welcome and Keynote
11:10 - 12:10 "A" Workshops
Lunch 12:15 - 12:45
12:55 - 1:55 "B" Workshops
2:00 - 3:00 Group Discussion, Performance and Wrap-up.


•Once payment is completed, the contact person will receive an Excel Document to list both student and chaperone information.
•We strongly encourage schools to pay the registration cost of $45 per person, students and adults. Fee includes continental breakfast and lunch.
• We strongly encourage schools to arrange all transportation to and from the conference.
• Registering constitutes an obligation to pay for the number of people registered. You can make substitutions or increase the number, but you can not lower the number registered.
• Your students must be accompanied by at least one adult.
• Please register before November 4, 2017 to help us plan more effectively.

Space is limited, first come first serve.


Please note When registering, you will be asked to upload an Excel file that contains columns as shown below.

Member Options

    · AISNE Member:$45 per attendee

    · Fee includes continental breakfast, lunch, and access to all conference materials.

    · Registering constitutes an obligation to pay the fee.

    · You can make substitutions or increase the number, but you can not lower the number registered.

    · Please note: No refunds