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Hope Conference 2020

By Jacob Maciel, marketing and communications intern
A day filled with inclusive topics and activities, giving students a new perspective about the world they live in.
Understanding the genetic makeup and differentiating social experiences that each person possesses is the foundation to unite students together at the La Jolla Country Day School Hope Conference. The Hope Conference is an all-encompassing student-led event that offers a space for students to learn about themselves and their peers as one unified community. 

The goal of the conference is to provide an opportunity for students to learn about topics typically not covered in class. By offering an array of inclusive topics, students can garner new perspectives about issues important in society. This annual event brings awareness to topics about race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, family structure and other facets of each student’s individual story. The day is created for students from all backgrounds and identities to learn from each other’s experiences that are different from their own and to broaden their perspectives about how they view the world. 

Affinity groups are essential aspects that promote diversity and inclusion. They are developed by students and created based on identities unique to the student body. The 22 affinity groups (e.g., LGBTQIA+, multiracial heritage and non-English speaking household) are safe spaces where students lead discussions on the group to which they identify. Students are encouraged to have difficult conversations typically left out of standard education.

The event also included 25 various panel discussion options, including education on black hair, how to be an LGBTQ ally, Holi and Indian Culture and homelessness awareness. Special guests included:

  • Viet Mai: host, educator, poet and entrepreneur
  • Susan Bro: speaker and mother of civil rights activist, Heather Heyer
  • Sidy Maiga: West African djembe and dundun drumming performer
  • Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix: Tariq Khamisa Foundation

The Hope Conference serves as an opportunity for students to inspire greatness and lead with dignity. LJCDS takes pride in its diverse and inclusive community, the commitment to equity and justice for all are demonstrated throughout the entire day of the conference and continues into the daily lives of students. Acknowledging what makes us different brings us closer together as a community, and to understand our differences and accept them helps us grow together. 

Reflections of Hope Conference leaders:

Lauren Ziment ’20: My role as a member of the community is recognizing what I can do to make others feel welcomed and included. It’s important for me to have the opportunity to explore other cultures and other areas that I don’t identify with. If we can learn about other’s experiences and have a sense of empathy with them, then that’s one of the biggest takeaways for students to attend.

Amy (Yubeen) Cho ’21: The most empowering point of the Hope Conference is knowing that just being there to listen to everyone’s opinion and share that moment of empathy is not only special, but it impacts other people. If I could help one person self-explore and find their identity, isn’t that the most important part of a community, to be there for each other?

Bobi Mack ’20: My parents always taught me to treat people with respect and how you would want to be treated. I think the Hope Conference is important because we live in a society where we have mixed cultures and mixed traditions, and we need to learn how to treat each other, even if we are different.