Personal stories and information shared by the six affinity groups in the High School at SMA's second annual Affinity Day brought new understandings, awareness, and admiration for the student presenters from their peers and faculty on Thursday, April 22.
Of the Latina Affinity Group's documentary featuring their personal experiences and viewpoints, a fellow student said, "It was full of heart, honesty, and even gratitude. It will stay with me forever." The group, comprised of 55 students, shared immigration and border statistics, the story behind the Caravan, and reasons for migration to the United States.
The students felt that all the presentations were honest and thoughtful, a commenter noting that the Black Affinity Group presentation was moving and very educational, making a space for everyone to have difficult but important conversations.
The schedule also included: the Adoptee Affinity Group explaining different types of adoptions and what it means to be growing up as an adoptee; the Asian Affinity Group discussing Xenophobia and the current rise in hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander community members and ways to help; the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group providing definitions, shared statistics, and offering ways to be allies; and the Mixed Affinity Group presenting personal reflections on how it feels to have a mixed identify and suggestions of what "not to say" to people with a mixed affinity.
"Education is the only way to combat the discrimination and bigotry we see today," said a peer. "Thank you to all the leaders for sharing your stories." Another added, "I learned so many things today, and I think that it was so meaningful to have this SMA community to be able to be vulnerable."
SMA's Affinity Groups were created to provide intentional spaces for students who identify within often marginalized or minoritized groups. The student-led, faculty-sponsored communities meet throughout the year to support effective communication around the diversity of experiences among our student body. SMA believes that in a multicultural society, developing cultural competency is crucial to being a responsible and compassionate world citizen. As an independent school in the Catholic tradition, rooted in the Loretto School Values of faith, community, justice, and respect, St. Mary’s Academy is committed to diversity in its many forms.