Community Conversation on Latinx Identity Kicks Off Hispanic Heritage Month

The school’s mission statement encourages students to “fulfill their potential as individuals fully engaged in the world.” To that end, one of the school’s goals is to promote empathy, respect, and understanding. Dr. Rachel Myers, dean of diversity and inclusion, introduced the Community Conversations series last year to encourage discussion about social identifiers applicable to community members.
The first Community Conversation took place yesterday evening and focused on Latinx Identity. The event coincided with Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15. Dr. Myers said, “The concept behind the series is to create an intentional space for members of the community to come and listen, learn, and educate [each other] about a different topic each meeting in a space grounded in mutual respect.”
The conversations are entitled: “Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Talk About…” Students can propose topics for future conversations and submit specific questions anonymously through a Google form. At each gathering, students are randomly chosen to read aloud questions that were submitted. Facilitators then call on audience members who want to answer. Dr. Myers said, “The anonymous format of question submission and the random choosing of those questions to be read in the space takes away the fear/shame/guilt someone with the question might have.”
These gatherings encourage students to come out and learn about the experiences of their peers. Many believe that the conversations help strengthen community here at the school. Sandrine Brien ’20 said, “People don’t know that I’m half Chilean, and I either have to tell them or they have to ask where my parents are from. I think that it’s good to have a conversation, because you are showing that you want to try to get an understanding of where people come from.”
Past Community Conversations have focused on mental illnesses, Pan-Asian identity, Black identity, and Jewish identity.
Community Conversations will take place every month. Dr. Myers said, “It is my hope that Community Conversations become a hallmark of the Hotchkiss experience well beyond my tenure as director of diversity & inclusion. I am always overjoyed to see people return to the next conversation and see new faces every time a new topic is chosen. Let’s keep showing up for one another, Bearcats!”
The next conversation will take place in November and focus on religion.