In an effort to normalize and encourage challenging conversation about inclusivity, the Associated Student Bodies (ASB) of LAHS and MVHS have teamed up to bring Candidly Speaking, a global program dedicated to having individuals open up about different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds, to Mountain View–Los Altos (MVLA) students. In the virtual event taking place tomorrow, ASB invites all MVLA students to participate in fostering an inclusive environment.
In choosing to take part in the event, MVHS ASB President Ava Kopp explained that students will be sharing and listening to one another’s individual experiences with race, culture and growing up in this modern world.
“Our biggest goal with Candidly Speaking is to create a space where students feel comfortable enough to share about themselves and be treated with respect,” Ava said. “In doing that, we hope to create a more unified school district, and one that is more capable of bringing about change.”
In contrast to previous webinars the schools have held, the students themselves will be actively involved. After being split up into different groups, students will respond to several questions, share their unique experiences and listen to one another. This process will be repeated in different groups once again to give as many varied perspectives as possible before returning to the main room with everyone to debrief the educational and powerful aspects of the night.
“It’s not a debate or even much of a discussion. It’s about listening to each other openly and with empathy,” Ava said. “Listening is vastly underestimated in how far it goes to create change in someone.”
Ava previously attended an online Candidly Speaking event, where she found the emphasis on the listening part of communication particularly impactful and thought it would benefit the MVLA student body.
“Coming into the school year, one of my main goals was for ASB to make hard conversations a priority at Mountain View and throughout all MVLA students,” Ava said. “To me, staying silent on a subject like race, diversity or inclusivity in our school because we weren’t comfortable talking about it, seemed like the definition of privilege.”
According to LAHS ASB Vice President Aida Yezalaleul, the timing of the event is especially significant.
“This came at the perfect opportunity as it’s Black History Month and we have dedicated a commision to racial equity on campus in ASB,” Aida said. “We’ve been wanting to have an activity for students to get to hear each other, and create a safe space beyond just one time conversations. We’re hoping that if participation is high enough we could make this a more regular, monthly event. Especially in these extraordinary circumstances with COVID-19 where we’re not on campus talking to our peers like we usually would, this creates that space.”
As the two schools have similar aspirations for their school environment and have been wanting to collaborate with each other for quite some time, Aida and Ava are proud their teams are working together to bring inclusivity to a larger community.
“Mountain View has been really easy to work with in terms of our vision and what we want racial equity to look like on campus which is an awareness and consciousness that is maintained throughout all different groups in the school, and respect for everybody individually and collectively,” Aida said. “I think this is a great starting point.”
Further detail on attending this event will be sent out through email and can be found on both ASB social media accounts.