The Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC) held a Diversity Summit in Nevada City Oct. 3-6. The goal of the weekend was to build relationships by encouraging participants to step out of their comfort zone. Below, CCLC inclusion coordinator Maisue Thao shares a peek into the weekend’s events.
By Maisue Thao, senior media arts and Asian studies double major
The most important aspect of Diversity Summit is the fact that 100 strangers really become a family in just two days. This Diversity Summit was motivational and really brought me back to the true values that I stand for. There were many highlights of the entire retreat, but there were two that really stood out to me.
The first was a workshop called “Privilege.” Workshop participants were randomly assigned to groups that were treated as privileged or discriminated against. That workshop left a strong impression on me because even though I as a staff member knew what the workshop was going to be, I still felt like I wanted to make something happen, like start a riot or fight for my rights against the authorities.
Afterward, we participated in what is known as a privilege walk. The point of the activity was to show everyone who grew up in society with privileges and who didn’t. And the most important part of it was that privileges did not mean having luxury cars or traveling around the country. There were many that were just based on your race and whether or not your parents could afford to feed you every day.
It was really amazing to see the difference between where people were in their lives, because we all started together on the same line, kind of like how we each begin our lives in the womb of our mother, but the minute we are born, we are subjected to certain stereotypes, certain privileges, certain backgrounds.
The second highlight of the retreat was a workshop called “Visualization.”
This stood out to me because most of the weekend had been based on group bonding and learning to support and give strength to those around you, but this workshop allowed you to focus on yourself, and how to take care of you so that you can be the strong and powerful leader that you want to be. The important part is that it isn’t some visualization of what you wanted to be, but it was based on your past and those experiences that mattered to you that made you you, and it really emphasized the importance of seeing who you are and being true to the person inside.
That weekend helped me realize the importance of living by learning and of never forgetting what you have learned. In my first Diversity Summit, I held back a lot of things because I felt like I had overcome them and therefore I didn’t need to return to those moments that were hard, those moments in which I struggled to find who I was. But I learned during this retreat and also during my employment at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC) that those moments are the moments when you see yourself at your greatest because you were at your lowest, and you had the strength to look for the path that would lead you in the direction you wanted to go rather than give up.
It made me realize that I needed to hold on to those moments, not because I feared them coming back, but because I can always use them to fuel my strength and to help others find their strength—because our past is what makes us who we are, and if we just forget it, we are erasing an entire chapter of our lives that really changed who we could have been.
If there is anything I learned from Diversity Summit and from working with the CCLC family, it is that your story is the most powerful gift you can give. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you also give others permission to be vulnerable and real and true to what they hold most deeply inside.