youngPOWER conference to take place over zoom

The+youngPOWER+conference%2C+which+brings+together+students+to+talk+about+social+justice+issues%2C+has+happened+in+the+past+in+person.+However%2C+this+year%2C+it+will+happen+for+the+first+time+over+Zoom+March+19+to+20.+

Cameron Spurr

The youngPOWER conference, which brings together students to talk about social justice issues, has happened in the past in person. However, this year, it will happen for the first time over Zoom March 19 to 20.

Sophia Bassi and Vittoria Di Meo

According to their website, the youngPOWER conference brings together schools from across London to “break down stereotypes, explore issues of power, prejudice and privilege, and identify paths for taking action in our communities.” 

The conference will be held over Zoom for the first time and will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. March 19 and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. March 20.

The conference has been organized by students and faculty from ASL, Westminster Academy and Harris Academy, and participation will be open to students from other schools as well. In order to form the conference, the leadership committee of schools decided on which issues they especially wanted to focus on.

Conference organizer Tarika Roy (’21) said the focus topics were influenced by what is currently prevalent throughout society; one of these chosen topics is Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter has had so many things happen in the past couple of years. You can’t have a social justice conference without talking about BLM just because it’s so relevant in today’s world.”

— Tarika Roy ('21)

“It’s mainly about what’s going on in the world,” she said. “Black Lives Matter has had so many things happen in the past couple of years. You can’t have a social justice conference without talking about BLM just because it’s so relevant in today’s world.”

Among other activities, the conference includes keynote speakers, workshops, an identifier activity and a BLM panel.

Director of Community Action Brandon Block, a Co-Conference Advisor of the event, said the open mic is also intended to be a very impactful activity where all students can present about a social justice issue. 

“In the past, it’s been very powerful for ASL students to hear those voices and it breaks down stereotypes in a way,” he said. “People who may be from very different backgrounds from ASL students are expressing their truth in a way that ASL students don’t always hear.” 

However, due to challenges of organizing the conference over Zoom, certain changes have been made. Conference organizer Maxine Wadsworth (’22) said instead of being able to talk with others during the breaks, this interaction will have to happen within the meeting.

The fabric of London is much more diverse and complex than they might think at first. Whether we have lifers who started in K1 or students who arrived from other schools, I feel like that has a big impact on them in that respect.”

“The casual talking is no longer a huge thing because everyone’s on Zoom, so during the breaks you log off your computer,” she said. “The main difference is being able to meet people from other schools between the workshops, so we have to try to incorporate that time in the Zooms or in the whole youngPOWER meeting.”

World Languages and Cultures Teacher Mario Rojas, a Co-Conference Advisor of the event, said the conference allows students to see the greater London community beyond the confines of ASL.  

“The fabric of London is much more diverse and complex than they might think at first,” he said. “Whether we have lifers who started in K1 or students who arrived from other schools, I feel like that has a big impact on them in that respect.”

It takes a lot more courage to unmute yourself and speak on Zoom than it does in person.”

— Maxine Wadsworth ('22)

In terms of how ASL students interact with those from other schools, Wadsworth said she hopes they will converse openly.

“I ultimately hope that they’ll be really positive, excited and open to having conversations as well as embracing the awkward Zoom silence,” she said. “It takes a lot more courage to unmute yourself and speak on Zoom than it does in person.”

Rojas said in past conferences, he has seen ASL students interact well with students from other schools by participating and taking leadership positions.

“I see students interacting with everyone with respect and with genuine curiosity and empathy,” he said. “We really wanted to continue with the conference because it shows so much of what we want our students to be from ASL.”