CISL Conference Makes a Cultural Splash

Annual CISL event takes students on a cultural adventure



CISL Student Committee Officers alongside CISL Coordinator Betsy Campagna and PWCS Superintendent Steve Walts

Every year in March, the CISL Program hosts a CISL conference at the school that seeks to engage CISL students and the Hylton community in an immersive, cultural environment. This year, it was held on Saturday, March 7 from 9:00 AM to 2:50 PM and housed a total of 18 possible sessions for a person to choose from. The CISL conference is structured so as to take every individual through four unique sessions of different cultural relevance, presented by different members of the Hylton community ranging from parents to teachers and even students.

Hylton junior and CISL Committee Project Director for In-Country Events Nina Stolmeier said, “I enjoyed planning the conference and producing an event for the Hylton community,”

Before sessions began, attendees were welcomed in the auditorium and introduced to the CISL committee who assisted in planning the event. After the initial remarks, CISL Coordinator Mrs. Betsy Campagna welcomed the keynote speaker: Senior Civil Society Advisor in the Civil Society and Media Division at USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Mariam Afrasiabi.

The conference pulled food from different places around the world for attendees to enjoy. They catered food from Petra Grill, which was Halal, Taste of Tandoor (Indian), Empanadas de Mendoza (Argentinian), and Lil Bowl Thai and Japanese Cuisine. Lunch was served in the commons, and in the background, Puerto Rican musician Jeffra Montañez played music inspired by his country and the current issues existing there.

There were 18 total sessions available, of which people could attend four total.

One popular session was Monsters Around the World, presented by Hylton social studies teacher Jason Fox. The session focused on the cultural implications of different monster stories; it attracted a significant presence for the interesting subject matter. When asked about his motivation to present this session, Fox said “I saw a lot of anxiety this year in a way I’ve never seen at a school before. I thought it would be interesting to study about what the collective fears of different cultures are. Monster stories are scarier to people with bright minds and sound imaginations, the same demographic that feels anxiety the strongest.”

Students also had the opportunity to attend a German Glass Etching class called Glasätzen, where they were able to make small candle glasses using a method of glass etching called acid etching, with which they etched simple flower patterns onto the glass. This session was hosted by Brentsville High School Spanish teacher Victoria Sampedro and was widely enjoyed by many students. “It was a great hands-on activity to connect with a different culture in a way many of us can understand – art. I loved having something to bring home!” said Junior Hannah Palmer.

The conference is one of the biggest events hosted by the CISL Program, and this year, overall, most seemed to enjoy it and its wide variety of presentations. “Planning the CISL Conference takes a lot of time and effort from many people, but in the end it’s worth it to see everyone come together and to celebrate how diverse our community is,” said CISL President Emily McPike.