Good Hope Seminary High School hosted its first inclusivity summit of the year on Saturday, March 2.
The summit is an initiative started by City Bowl high schools in 2016.
It aims to build a society that is inclusive of everyone.
The school hosts these summits once every term and has since covered pertinent issues such as race, sexual orientation, gender, mass hyper-masculinity, albinism, and spatial injustices within the city since its inception.
Acting principal, Leon Linz, said they had invited seven schools from across the peninsula and community organisations from Hout Bay to Kensington.
He said the aim was to get people to think about the things that divide and connect us.
“We live in a society where there’s a lot of division, a lot of people playing on identity politics and trying to divide people and through this summit, we’re looking at how we can bring everyone together and show how common humanity and bringing people from different areas with different experiences to share under one roof, can have a positive impact,” he said.
“This term’s summit focused on inclusively exploring ourselves and diversity while appreciating others and understanding the connection between us.”
The guest speaker was Melanie Burke, the chairperson of the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards who also serves as board chairperson of organisations Partners for Possibility and Streetwise.
The school described Ms Burke as an accomplished business person, lecturer, trainer and a remarkably wise, authentic and gracious human being.
Ms Burke challenged the young minds to come out of their shells and connect with each other through conversation and listening to each other’s stories. Everyone participated in multi-cultural and other assessments where they explored themselves and the people around them.
The participants learnt that we all have different stories and different experiences but society is constantly putting everyone in the same box.
She encouraged the pupils to always be curious about each other and listen with compassion for understanding.
“We’ve been denied each other, we don’t know each other, we’ve been told things about each other, but we have no ability to test those things for truth, we’re so scared of each other,” she said.
She encouraged the pupils to check themselves and not follow everything on social media. “Aim to inspire and not aspire, don’t aspire to be anyone else, be your inspiration and the best version of yourself,” she said.
Cape Town High School pupil, Bathande Nhlapho, said this was the 11th summit he attended and that the summits had changed the way he views life.
He said he struggled to come out of his shell and express his views but the summits had taught him these skills.
First-timer, Asemanhle Malgas, from Gardens Commercial High said she had not had high expectations for the summit but they were blown away. “It was amazing and I learnt a lot about myself. Thank you ma’am (Ms Burke), we learnt a lot from this summit and I’ll be coming back next term,” she said.
Ms Burke said spaces for people to remember and tap into their knowledge needed to be created.
“It’s a privilege to be in the room, I had to do this work through hard life experiences and it took many traumatic things to help me realise that I’m the only one that can do what I need to do for me and choose how to respond to the world,” she said.
She said the country didn’t know itself well enough. She said she was worried about it because we lived with the shame of the shared story of our past.
She said the country needs to find a way to deal with the pain which was one of the reasons we couldn’t find ourselves.
“We bought into the story of the rainbow nation and didn’t create spaces to find each other in enough ways and the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) had a role to play and didn’t. We were too quick to forgive without going to the places that created the wounds,” she said.