On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, more than six hundred high school students from the Rochester area gathered at the Nazareth College Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies & Dialogue for the 9th Annual Global Citizenship conference. This conference is designed to create a safe space for high school students to learn about and discuss diverse religious and cultural traditions through a series of presentations and discussion sessions. Among the 600 were forty Wheatland-Chili students but, unlike the rest, they were there for a different kind of experience.
Each Wheatland-Chili student arrived in their purple and gray conference t-shirt ready to work. They directed groups of students from their buses, handed out conference packets and backpacks, greeted speakers and escorted them to the correct buildings, set up and served lunch, and answered participants’ questions.
“Our students are also welcome to attend any sessions that interest them, but by volunteering they take an active role in the conference,” said Wheatland-Chili English Teacher Rob Schneider. “In this capacity they interact with students from other districts, speakers, teachers, Nazareth students – they are exposed to a diverse community. Their world expands.”
Schneider is also on the board for the conference. The first years, Nazareth students volunteered. However, Schneider asked if his students could fill that role instead. He sees this volunteer experience as a glimpse into college life.
“Our volunteers are mostly seniors, though we do bring some juniors and sophomores,” added Schneider. “Spending a day on a college campus, outside of a traditional admissions tour, is not something a lot of high school students do. Having new experiences, networking, recognizing diversity, these are the first steps in becoming a global citizen.”