Open and Honest Conversations: The 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Retreat

Anika Buch, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On January 24, 2020, twenty two-students and six chaperones departed for the Diversity and Inclusion Retreat.  Over the course of the past few years, this retreat has gained significant popularity as a time for introspection, reflection and candor.  Seniors JayShon DuBose and Alex Shah were responsible for organizing the retreat. DuBose explained, “I went on the trip to facilitate activities and to make a safe and open environment for everyone who was in attendance.”  The trip attracted students who were looking to have open and honest conversations about tough topics surrounding diversity and inclusion in society.

These discussions were conducted best in the form of activities.  Senior Amanda Fradkin, a student leader on the trip, said the retreat had “a ton of activities. Some of which were team bonding [and] getting to know each other, some to get to know yourself activities and some were meant to create a conversation between everyone.”  Sophomore Laila Cook said, “The most powerful part of the trip for me was when we all wrote in journals about our feelings and our lives because we all got to express our true emotions in a healthy way and then share it with others.” This sentiment is key to the purpose of the retreat.  DuBose echoed this, explaining that the trip was meant to “allow people to have a space where they can be their true selves without worrying about judgment or backlash as well as teach people about issues they may have been ignorant of before going on the trip.” Fradkin echoed DuBose’s statement, stating that “[the] retreat brings together a diverse group of students and creates a comfortable enough space for them to share their stories and connect with each other.”  

Other students who attended this year recommend the trip to all MBS students who have years left in the Upper School.  Fradkin said, “I would 100% recommend the retreat to anybody who would want to have an honest conversation about themselves and their personal views.”  

This retreat had a profound impact on the students who went, with each taking away their own message.  By covering difficult topics including socioeconomic differences within our school, social norms, implicit bias, and stereotypes, these honest conversations left their definitive mark on the students who went. Rafael Cruz ‘22, explained that “going on the retreat shifted my mindset.  It showed me how to look at the bigger picture and learn how to understand the issues of my peers and realize that you never know what someone is going through.”