The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

Urban hosts the second annual Mixed Conference

Bringing mixed affinity to high school students across the Bay Area
Mixed Conference attendees sign a poster with words to describe what being mixed means to them. Photo credit: Daphne Yeh Gilman.

SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2024 —— Twenty-one students from independent schools across the Bay Area who identify as multi-racial and multi-ethnic gathered in Urban’s Salkind Center to learn more about their own and others’ cultural identities. It was the second annual Mixed Conference, and the first time the event was hosted at Urban.

“I thought [the conference] would be a really good opportunity to explore my mixed identity and meet new people who have similar identities to me,” said Deja Barth-Ramos ‘26, who attended the conference for the first time this year.

“I wanted to be able to interact and talk about being mixed and share experiences with mixed students across other schools,” said Charlotte Fassnacht ‘26, who was also a first-time attendee.

The conference lasted three hours, beginning with a full-group silent-movement activity — similar to Urban’s Cross the Line event for Month of Understanding (MOU) — where attendees stepped forward and backward to share and connect through mutual experiences. Afterwards, attendees could choose to participate in a range of 40-minute breakout sessions in the span of two rounds, with topics spanning from food and culture to the multiple-minority experience.

For many attendees, the breakout rooms were a highlight of the conference. With different guiding topics and discussion prompts, each room gave participants the chance to dive into a specific aspect of their identity.

The conference also gave many students a chance to reflect on how they present themselves toward others. “As a mixed person … you have to present [yourself as] who you want other people to see, but sometimes that’s not who you actually are,” said Pablo Zhang, The Nueva School ‘27, who attended the conference this year for the second time.

Arien Frey, International High School ‘25, participated in a breakout room discussing families and belonging. “We talked about having siblings and looking different from them, and also feeling closer to one parent or the other based on how you look,” they said.

In addition to structured conversations, many attendees enjoyed being in a space full of other mixed-identifying students. “There aren’t that many mixed spaces at my school,” said Ellie Burkhardt, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School ‘25. “It’s nice to have a space [that’s] about being mixed.”

The event closed with a faculty panel featuring Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Jason Ernest Feldman, History Teacher Kristjiana Gong, and Nick Andino ‘18, staff member of the equity, inclusion and belonging office.

“I think the panel was a good break to let folks take a breath,” said Andino. “It was cool connecting with kids who also had similar experiences [to me] … and trying to give some advice now that I’m an adult — but also let the kids lead the conversation.”

Urban’s Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic Affinity Space (MESH) Co-Leader Anushka Chandran ‘25 led and organized the conference this year, hoping to provide mixed students with community spaces after helping with the conference at The Nueva School last year. “It’s about getting together and recognizing that we have this shared experience that often feels so isolating,” she said. 

Chandran completed many tasks to prepare for the event, from writing prompts for faculty panelists to sending emails advertising the event. “She did a lot of work trying to look at other schools’ spring break schedules, figuring out when it could fit and when we would have the most opportunity to bring people together,” said Feldman. 

Feldman observed that the event helped a diverse group of mixed-identifying students connect with one another, a goal that guided much of the event planning. “I saw kids from different schools interact with each other, share their experiences and find commonalities and differences — it felt like a form of solidarity-building,” he said.

Chandran reflected on her takeaways from organizing and attending the Mixed Conference. “It really highlighted why I’m so invested in MESH,” she said. “It’s about other people feeling like they belong in a place, and that reaffirms to me the reason I do it. It’s not about anything else.”