Identity and inclusion were the focus during Williston’s fourth Why Not Speak Day.
Williston’s fourth Why Not Speak Day—a day in January set aside for discussions about identity and inclusion—gave the community plenty to talk about and do, with 37 student- and faculty-led workshops, a featured speaker, and activities that encouraged empathy.
The theme for this year’s event was “Proud to Be,” and student and faculty presenters wore T-shirts with blank labels that resembled name tags, saying, “Hello, I’m Proud to Be____.” Community members used markers to fill in the blank with identifiers such as “a girl in STEM,” “unapologetically Black,” and “a daydreamer.”
Morning presentations followed a keynote talk by motivational speaker Jen Croneberger and covered a wide range of topics, including a workshop by Julius Pryor III ’ 73. Students also reflected on the morning’s activities with their advisors.
In the afternoon, the community engaged in a fishbowl activity. Affinity groups were invited onto stage based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Participants were asked to talk about how their identity impacts who they are and how they experience the world. Audience members listened respectfully.
Oluwatomisin (Tomi) Akisanya ’21 organized a workshop with her older sister called “To Self, with Love.” “It was mostly an open conversation where we explained what self-care and love means to us, and allowed each student to reflect.”
All in all, Akisanya said the day was meaningful and educational. “I learned that every student at Williston has multiple stories and experiences that have affected who they are and the way that they view the world,” she said. “I learned that Williston is a melting pot and I think that that’s what makes our school so interesting.”