More than 600 high school students from Greater Rochester recently gathered at Nazareth College for the ninth annual Global Citizenship Conference. Among them were 40 Wheatland-Chili students, but they were there for a different kind of experience.
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.
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,” English teacher Rob Schneider said. “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 on the board for the conference. Nazareth students volunteered for the first years; 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,” he said. “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.”