DB Forum strives toward truth

Vrinda+Chauhan

Vrinda Chauhan

Last Friday, DB Forum turned a regular school day into an experience of a lifetime., Held in the school gymnasium, Peer Counseling’s 15th annual DB Forum brought diverse groups of students together to discover the truth about various teen issues and featured many student-led activities and discussions..

“DB Forum seeks to acknowledge the different stereotypes and groups on campus and break the barriers they have formed among the students,” Peer Counseling advisor Sandy Davis said.

At the beginning of the conference, students were split up into different groups, led by different Peer Counselor facilitators for the duration of the conference. The groups had various discussions that recognized negative and positive stereotypes, developed anti-bullying strategies, and reduced social isolation.

The day began with introductions and mini icebreaker activities, which included acknowledging subconscious prejudices. Activities as simple as examining a lollipop with a wrapper of a certain color and opening it to find that it was a completely different color on the inside demonstrated the idea that people all subconsciously judge others by their appearance.

These opening ice breakers were followed by games that recognized stereotypes and their effects on students. One activity to exhibit this was “Stereotype Bingo,” which was a bingo game with boxes that had, instead of numbers, different stereotypical questions such as “Have you ever been called spoiled or rich?” or “Have you ever been called a drama queen?” This forced students to judge others based on their appearance, proving that all, even in the most minor way, take on presumptions from first glance (as they would only ask questions that they thought the person would say yes to).

“Crossing the Line” was another eye-opening activity that helped reveal that students are not alone in the way they think or feel. In “Crossing the Line,” Davis announced various generalizations, and if the students felt that they had experienced these statements or the statements applied to them, they stepped forward (or “crossed the line” marked on the floor). Many students commented that they were shocked to see some of their peers step forward for questions that concerned sensitive teen issues.

“I think DB Forum is amazing because you get to understand others more and you feel like you’re not alone… especially in the Cross the Line activity. It makes you realize that so many people are going through the same things that you are,” Peer Counselor facilitator Samantha Annamraju explained.

The event took a serious turn in “If You Knew Me Well,” an activity meant to show that everyone had a different story.  During this exercise, students revealed personal stories about themselves, private stories that few knew about, to their group.

To conclude the day, students planned and performed satirical skits about stereotypes on campus (such as UBS members being classified as snobby or brainy Asians as nerds). At the end of the skit, the group facilitators explained the stereotypes presented and the message that one’s group of friends or stereotypes did not necessarily reflect their genuine personalities.

“DB Forum was a really great experience because you got to know a lot of people and make new friends. You get to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through and I think everyone at Diamond Bar High School should attend DB Forum at least once,” junior attendee Fernanda Gonzalez said.

Initiated by Davis 15 years ago, DB Forum’s goal was to bring students from different cliques together to talk about universal yet significant teenage topics. Davis felt that high school students deserved an opportunity to express their opinions on controversial issues in an open and impartial environment.

DB Forum gave students that chance to relate different experiences at DBHS and connect to many people on that basis, creating friendships outside of their group of friends on campus. image002 image003

Students that participated had either been nominated by teachers or were among the first 100 students to submit their applications. Peer Counseling will hold another DB Forum event next semester on Feb. 21. “Our students are always cooperative and respectful. I think that’s because given the opportunity to talk about issues meaningful and relevant to teenagers, they do a really great job. It is my privilege to be able to do DB Forum twice a year,” Davis said.