Students and Faculty Reflect at SDLC

Lawrenceville students and faculty members attended the Student Diversity and Leadership Conference (SDLC) and the People of Color Conference (PoCC), respectively, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle last week, from December 4 to December 7.

Lawrenceville students and faculty members attended the Student Diversity and Leadership Conference (SDLC) and the People of Color Conference (PoCC), respectively, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle last week, from December 4 to December 7. SDLC is led by the organization National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), with this year’s theme stating: “1954. 2019. With All Deliberate Speed. Integrating Schools, Minds, and Hearts With the Fierce Urgency of Now.”

The theme of this year’s PoCC, the flagship of NAIS, is: “1619. 2019. Before. Beyond. Amplifying Our Intelligence to Liberate, Co-Create, and Thrive.” The conference, led by trained adults and facilitators, aims to equip students with cross-cultural communication skills.

Featuring discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the conference focuses on “self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community,” according to its website. In addition to hosting large group sessions, family groups and affinity groups allow for dialogue and sharing in more intimate settings. This year’s focus was reflecting on and reckoning with the past to move forward, specifically considering major events in black history. The conference launched with a speech by professor and author Joy DeGruy who described “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” a term she coined referring to posttraumatic stress disorder in enslaved Africans and their descendants. “The effects and terrors of slavery have followed African-Americans even into the present day, and I think that her speech… can enlighten a lot of people,” attendee Gabby Medina ’21 said.

Other invited speakers included scholars Cinnamon Spear, Wayne Au, and Anthony Ocampo, whose speeches focused on issues of ethnicity, race, and immigration. Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender athlete who swam for Harvard University, also spoke about his own experience. Attending students particularly enjoyed learning about diverse stories and identities at the conference. “It was incredible to be in a room with people who were vulnerable and willing to share,” Cate Levy ’20 said.

Similarly, Danica Bajaj ’21 said, “The fact that we got so close to the people there in such a short period of time shows that there is so much unfulfilled potential within our community. It is a beautiful thing to be vulnerable,”

Upon returning, many students found themselves more self-aware and cognizant of ways in which they may be empowered to strengthen the School’s community: “I came to a newfound recognition of my privilege,” Medina said. “Being at the conference put it into perspective.”

Levy’s experiences at the conference further fueled her desire to promote inclusivity at Lawrenceville. “It’s about recognizing that everyone has dignity. [The School] should be a place where people can be themselves without fear of judgment,” Levy said.

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