On Thursday, Nov. 28, I joined five other Baylor students on a journey to Nashville, Tenn., to join a group of 6,400 student leaders and educators at a conference designed to expand our knowledge on the theme of "Equitable Schools and Inclusive Communities: Harmony, Discord, and the Notes in Between."
The NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference, or SDLC, serves as the core of the National Association of Independent Schools’ devotion to achieving equitable learning spaces for students and educators. The objective of SDLC is to provide a safe space for high school students of varying multiracial, and multicultural backgrounds to focus on self-development, forming allies, and establishing community with individuals from across the United States, as well as abroad.
With 2018 marking the 25th year of the conference, the goal still remains the same: each participant is to walk away with a greater understanding of self, as well as developed cross-cultural communication skills. In order to accomplish the goal, the 1,600 students in attendance were placed in SDLC “family groups,” with the 40-60 students in each group endeavoring to create effective strategies for social justice practice and even learning the principles of networking. The two days spent with my family group, also referred to as Jay Rapp, was both an enlightening and refreshing experience. I was unequivocally surrounded by driven students whose intentions are to create and sustain communities within independent schools where students of color and all other oppressed groups can flourish.
Whether it was leaning into the discomfort of the group discussions, reflecting on the insights made by my peers, bonding with a new friend over a shared experience, or even having a dance battle with a random stranger from my regional group, SDLC was nothing short of an exceptional experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. The gratitude that I cultivated over the two days spent in the presence of such well-informed individuals can only be accredited to the love and sense of belonging that I was dealt. The awareness that I gained from attending this conference has equipped me with the tools necessary to aid in leaving a lasting impression on my community, and the world, in the fight for equity and social justice for all oppressed people.