Virginia Beach middle and high school students are stepping up to the plate to serve as Diversity Ambassadors in their schools. The Diversity Ambassador program, which is organized by the Office of Equity Affairs in collaboration with the Office of Student Activities, uses student leaders to encourage and empower young people to use their voice for positive change.
“We’re bridging a gap that shouldn’t be there,” said senior Sydney Moondra, diversity ambassador at Bayside High School “My culture defines me. I have a strong Indian background instilled by my parents and I don’t want to lose it. I am grasping onto my Indian heritage while embracing American culture.”
Recently, the middle and high school ambassadors attended a daylong diversity workshop at Virginia Wesleyan College.
Students were greeted by Jobynia Caldwell, director of Equity Affairs.
“All of us are on a mission in this division to accept people, be tolerant of differences and like each other,” Caldwell said to the students. “Consider yourselves a family. This is how we do business here in Virginia Beach.”
Following Caldwell’s remarks, diversity ambassadors collaborated with students from other schools, dialogued about the dimensions of diversity and racial stereotyping, planned activities to open the lines of communication for all students and watched moving ‘spoken word’ performances from Teens With a Purpose, a Hampton Roads youth group, and Salem High School’s Filipino American Cultural Society.
Shally Pham, a rising senior at Salem, perhaps best summed up the training and mission of diversity ambassadors.
“We should be able to function as one without being the same. We look at the trees for the branches and the flowers, but we shouldn’t forget our roots.”