December 4, six Bosque representatives and I traveled to National Harbor, MD, to attend the 2013 People of Color Conference (PoCC) and Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools. We arrived in time to explore the harbor Wednesday night while preparing for our conference experience. The next few days were long but unforgettable.
Students attended the SDLC from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. each night. For more than 12 hours each day, they were engaged with other independent school students from around the nation. Our students examined identity, shared their personal stories, and were given an opportunity to see issues of diversity through the eyes of others. Each student had an opportunity to explore who they were as an individual in their school community. Our students treasured the fact that they were seen as a blank slate at this conference. From the moment they arrived, they were given an opportunity to share their stories. No assumptions were made about them. This freeing and welcoming environment allowed them to make connections throughout the conference with people, they admit, they may not have originally connected with. It was difficult for the students to leave and part from their new friends, but it was not difficult to see the spark that each of them had for wanting to bring back that feeling of openness and inclusiveness to our school community.
Jinni Durham and I attended the PoCC and connected with independent school administrators, teachers, and staff members from around the nation. We attended sessions that revolved around the following themes: Building Inclusive Communities for People of Color, Expanding Our Toolbox, Exploring Racial/Ethnic Identities for People of Color, and Nurturing Our Souls. It was exciting to share ideas with colleagues, explore new classroom/school programs for diversity initiatives, and find support from colleagues who may have been experiencing similar challenges in the work that we do. We also had the privilege of being in the presence of dynamic speakers, such as Staceyann Chin, a poet and activist (pictured), who shared with us her journey, and also prompted us to reflect on how the work we do can affect others in ways we never know. We've brought back more than just materials and ideas, but also a renewed sense of purpose for working with our students and a reminder of the importance of the roles that we play in our school communities.
It's truly hard to fully explain the joy, the growth, the excitement that is PoCC and SDLC. I hope that students and faculty members next year will apply to attend the 2014 conference in Indianapolis, IN, and experience this dynamic environment for themselves.
Rachel '14, Daisy '14, Galo '15, Samaria '16 and Adryana '16.