BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — High school students from across northeast Pennsylvania gathered at a local university to learn about diversity and inclusion.

The program has been going on for years and aims to educate youth through a series of activities.

Bloomsburg University welcomed back its annual high school diversity conference. Nearly 100 students came to celebrate our differences and promote equality for all.

Students from 10 area high schools came to Bloomsburg University for their 20th high school diversity conference.

“We have five sessions and they repeat three times in the day and students get to attend at least three of the five. And then they also have lunch here at the Scranton commons,” said Christina Francis, an organizer of the event.

These workshops included topics like leading with diversity and LGBTQIA+ conclave.

This year’s topic is “Our past, our future, and the road ahead.”

“Whether it’s neurodiversity, or sexual orientation, or whether it’s your class status or your race identity, whatever it might be. The students need to come and know that they’re not the only ones that are experiencing those things,” Francis told Eyewitness News.

“Organized exercises about diversity in various spaces and self-reflection,” said Angela Montaño, a middle school teacher and Bloomsburg University graduate.

She believes the only way to respect others is by respecting ourselves.

“Yes, it’s about race, it’s about religion and yes, it’s about accepting everyone that comes creed and color, but if you cannot respect yourself you will never respect others. And I feel like that’s where like everything happens,” Montaño explained.

“It’s inspiring to learn about others’ experiences and hopes programs like this will create a world with more inclusion,” said Jaden Nguyen, a 10th-grade student at Bloomsburg Area High School.

“A sense of safety with like people who you can connect with, like with all different races, and all different sexualities, especially today. I just think it’s important that we can come together and like connect with each other,” Nguyen told Eyewitness News.

The college hopes the students walk away with a new level of understanding and compassion for our differences.

Reporter Jazzmyn Allen will have more on this story in later editions of Eyewitness News.