From Nov. 29 to Dec. 6, 2017, six students and four faculty members from Shady Side Academy Senior School embarked on a journey to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC) and Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Anaheim, Calif. Nearly 6,000 students, educators and civil rights activists attended the conferences, which ran concurrently and focused on "Voices for Equity and Justice Now and in Every Generation: Lead, Learn, Rededicate, and Deliver."
Students attending the SDLC were juniors Chayla Edwards, Shreya Gulati, Hank Lin, Brooklynne Lowry and Caitlin Mulvihill and sophomore Qingqing Zhao. Faculty members accompanying the students and attending the PoCC were Pam Boehm, Creighton Runnette, Amy Yam, Becci Carter and Judi Williams.
For the students, the SDLC conference was a once-in-a-lifetime experience of fulfillment, acceptance and complete vulnerability. In an effort to facilitate meaningful discussion, students were held to SDLC community norms such as leaning in to discomfort and speaking from the "I" perspective. The students were actively engaged in open discussions pertaining to the eight cultural identifiers: race, family structure, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion and ability. The students felt a unique sense of community among the 1,600 student participants, enabling them to have real and honest conversations about diversity.
The faculty and staff who attended participated in four or five workshops a day and had the privilege of hearing renowned scholars and civil rights activists discuss gender, racial, religious, sexual and ethnic equity and justice.The SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of high school student leaders from across the U.S. that focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participants develop effective cross-cultural communication skills, better understand the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice, practice expression through the arts, and learn networking principles and strategies. Learn more about the SDLC.
The PoCC equips educators at every level with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, inter-ethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike. Learn more about the PoCC.