educators under banner African Diaspora Youth ConferenceThe 20th African Diaspora Youth Conference will welcome more than 300 high school students to campus May 9 to 11.

Conference to gather high school students of the African diaspora

The University of Windsor will welcome more than 300 high school students and 50 teacher chaperones to campus May 9 to 11 for the 20th African Diaspora Youth Conference, “Dream Learn Grow: the Bridge to Success.” Attendees represent 35 secondary schools from nine school boards, including Chatham-Kent, Detroit, Oakland County, Durham, Guelph, Halton, Toronto, and both Greater Essex County School Board and Windsor-Essex County District School Board.

“Year after year it’s about the students’ experience on campus, staying in a dorm, meeting new people, and making friends,” says conference chair Andrew Allen, an associate professor of education. “The conference demystifies going to university for first-in-the-family to attend university and for non-traditional students.”

During the conference, students will tour the campus, make new friends, create a group performance, hear presentations from all faculties, and be inspired by two keynote speakers:

  • UWindsor alumna Petra Owusu (BA 2018), a doctoral candidate at Western University, is fuelled by a passion for serving and advocating for the mental health of Black youth. Owusu was a student leader and conference co-ordinator during her undergraduate studies in psychology and facilitated workshops as a graduate student.
  • Vidal A. Chavannes has worked in a full-time and consulting capacity with a variety of public, private, and non-profit organizations, all within the training and education ecosystem.

This year’s workshop facilitators include UWindsor alumni, faculty, and staff, including Adam Harris, Kaye Johnson, Richard Douglass-Chin, Irene Moore Davis, Camille Armour, Sherida DuBose Parsons, Katia Benoit, Neil McEachrane, Karim Malik, Festus Moasun, Juanita Stephen, Natalie Delia, Camisha Sibblis, and Alleson Mason. Dr. Allen and Sheri Gaetz will conduct workshops for the attending teachers.

The conference is organized by Allen; special events co-ordinator for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Yvonne Zimmerman; and a team of six students from across campus: Lana Yacoub, Lynn Micka Omwongerinka, Larissa Turizeye, Grace Mitchell, Liin Mohamed, and Olatunbosun Obiwale. The students invite and schedule workshop facilitators, select keynote speakers, and prepare materials, in addition to working the conference.

The conference also provides an opportunity for UWindsor students to gain leadership skills.

Allen cites the example of Fardovza Kusow, who served as conference co-ordinator in 2021.

“She was very shy and quiet when she started her involvement,” says Allen. “She went on to be the conference student co-ordinator, got involved in student government, and became a UWindsor Student Ambassador.”

Watch a video interview with Kusow on YouTube.

Owusu began her involvement with the conference in 2014 as an undergraduate psychology student. She served as a fundraiser, conference co-ordinator, and leadership mentor. Since 2019, she has been a workshop facilitator.

“One of the biggest takeaways for high school students who attend ADYC is representation — seeing people who look like you not only running the conference but attending the university,” says Owusu. “It’s motivating. It resonates. These students see that they could come to university too. ‘Okay, there are people like me here. I can excel, no matter my background, I also belong here.’ Representation can make a substantial difference and it matters.”

The African Diaspora Scholarship/Bursary provides $1,000 to students who attend the African Diaspora Youth Conference and apply and are accepted to any program of study at the University of Windsor. Learn more on the conference website.

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