Crystal BryanCrystal Bryan trains volunteers in advance of the African Diaspora Youth Conference, opening May 9 on the UWindsor campus.

Diaspora conference attracting record number of youths

A record 350 students have registered from Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Detroit high schools to experience and explore the possibility of a post-secondary education at the 16th annual African Diaspora Youth Conference, May 9 to 11 on the University of Windsor campus.

The students and their teacher chaperones represent 24 Toronto schools, 10 from across Windsor and Essex County, and three from Michigan. In addition, the conference has 38 university student volunteers working the conference and a dozen professional workshop facilitators.

With a theme this year of “Beyond all Limits,” the conference is hosted by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, designed for secondary school students interested in learning about the African diaspora and how it has played a role in their development of self.

Conference chair Andrew Allen, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education, says the conference gives attendees first-hand experience of the university environment and encourages them to consider higher education.

“We bring students together to reflect, connect, plan, network, set goals and explore the possibility of a post-secondary education,” he says. “‘Diaspora’ is now a big part of the high school experience for many students. More than 40 students each year choose to attend the University of Windsor because of their experience at the conference.”

Former conference co-ordinator Crystal Bryan, graduating this spring from the aerospace leadership program, says the event shows attendees the possibilities a university degree opens to them

“My favourite part is to see students’ creativity on Thursday evening when they create their own dramatic presentation on the given topic,” she says. Another highlight for her is watching the networking that happens and new friendships that develop between students from different communities.

Attendance qualifies students to receive a $1,000 bursary towards tuition in any UWindsor academic program to which they win admission.

—Susan McKee