by Jennifer Calfas
Chadwick representatives traveled to Canada to participate in Round Square’s regional conference, hosted by Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario. Over the course of five days, student participants freshman Patty Jeon, sophomore Kelly Lee and juniors Crystal Ciaramitaro and Jennifer Calfas and Round Square Head John Nordquist advanced their understanding of the conference’s theme “Unity in Community.”
Delegates from various regional Round Square schools, ranging from Canada to India, joined the group as well. Connie Serra, one of the conference organizers and the Director of Round Square at Appleby College, stated that the participants would ideally discuss and experience multiculturalism and its effects on the modern world.
“I thought about a theme that really showed multiculturalism and diversity especially in Toronto,” said Serra. She strived to break the cultural barriers among students.
Delegates arrived to Appleby College on Friday, April 8, and lived with host families of various students from the school.
“My host family was unbelievably hospitable,” said Lee. “They gave me a whole bath set, like the ones that are wrapped nicely from Bed, Bath and Beyond, put chocolates next to my bed every day and even cooked breakfast each morning. I felt very welcomed and at home.”
However, delegates and host students alike remained busy with a full-day schedule filled with speakers, activities and socializing to promote the theme of Unity in Community. The speakers each shared a common message of promoting equity and unity in the world. Through the lens of photography to the cultural dances of indigenous Canadians, conference participants discovered the value of multiculturalism.
“I thought the first speaker, Chris D’Souza, was the best,” said Ciaramitaro. “He taught me that there’s discrimination within every diverse environment and that multiculturalism benefits the world a lot more than I thought before.”
Nonetheless, some delegates felt unsatisfied with the discussions held after the speakers’ presentations. “The reactions the other students and their opinions on the speakers’ presentation made me realize that what we are learning at Chadwick is actually two steps ahead of what other schools were learning,” said Lee.
With unity in the air, delegates also volunteered at service organizations near Toronto. One of the service spots, Community Living Oakville, strives to provide community participation with disabled people. Lee, who volunteered there, helped paint a mural of the conference’s logo. “I loved painting the mural,” said Lee. “I thought it was a great interactive experience that tied in with the conference’s theme nicely.”
In comparison to conferences in the past, Nordquist noted that diversity wasn’t as prevalent at a smaller scale regional conference. “Each conference has reflected the culture and perspective of the host school,” said Nordquist. “I think that because the culture of US and Canadian schools is not that different from that of Chadwick, conferences hosted there may not be as powerful as those held in countries with more radically different cultures, such as Thailand, India, and Peru.”
Overall, Serra believes the conference provided students with inspiration to break the common social barriers that they live in. “I hope that people succeeded in seeing that stereotypes aren’t always based on true facts, and that maybe people will start to see each other as more the same than different,” said Serra.