Shenzhen Conference on Global Diversity

Whitfield thoughtfully creates meaningful opportunities for our students to develop Cultural Competence, one of our six Habits of Mind & Heart.  This Habit is cultivated in classrooms as we study history and current events, as we reflect upon our own family histories and values, and as Whitfield students learn from one another—especially those from different backgrounds.  Cultural Competence is tested when our students participate in international travel opportunities presented each year.  Last year, a selection of students enjoyed cultural immersion opportunities in Costa Rica and Poland. So far this year, Whitfield students have visited China.

This fall Whitfield was chosen as one of three schools in the United States to attend and present at the Shenzhen International High School Students Forum held in Shenzhen, China, December 27-29, 2019. More than 100 students from schools around the world gathered at the conference to share perspectives and opinions on diversity, economic prosperity, and intercultural communication.

Whitfield students in grades 8 – 12 were given the opportunity to apply for one of the four spots that Whitfield was allotted.  Kaelyn Beeman '20, Zoë Goffe '21, Kenny Hill ’20, and Isabelle Zhang '24 were selected to attend the conference in the company of John Delautre, Head of School and Sara Rodney, coordinator of Whitfield’s International Student Program.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, students worked with faculty members Matt Kingston and Ms. Rodney to create and prepare presentations with corresponding materials which included a video, a research project and paper, and a speech.

“We chose as a school to focus on the theme of community and the value of diversity in a community,” said Ms. Rodney. “Our students met twice per week for approximately eight weeks to prepare. Kaelyn and Isabel produced the video, Zoë worked on a research project and corresponding paper, The Benefits of Diversity in a Global Market, which she presented during one of the round tables, and Kenny wrote and delivered a 10-minute speech, Diversity Makes a Community Stronger, which was selected to be one of the keynote speeches to open the conference.”

For Kenny Hill ’20, attending the conference was an opportunity to experience a different culture, meet new people, and strengthen his leadership skills. “Going to China was way outside of my comfort zone—I haven’t studied Mandarin, and I didn’t really know much about China’s culture or Shenzhen in general,” said Hill. “But I really wanted to go because I believe that I can grow when I push myself to be vulnerable and put myself in an unfamiliar environment where people have backgrounds different than mine. Experiences like this gives me the opportunity to learn about other people and about myself.”