Students attend Student Diversity Leadership Conference

Cybele Zhang December 10, 2015 Comments Off on Students attend Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Students attend Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Archer attendees of the Student Diversity Conference, Isabella Simanowitz '18, Anika Bhavnani '17, and Cydney Davis '18, upon arrival. The conference was in Tampa, Florida. Photographer: Kristin Taylor.

Three students attended the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Tampa, Florida from Dec. 3 – 5.

The yearly conference is held in early December. This year’s theme was “Learning to Listen and Listening to Learn: The Art of Dialogue and The Science of Living Justly.”

Bhavnani, Davis, and Simanowitz on the plane before the conference. "My favorite part of the conference was the affinity groups," said Bhavnani.

Bhavnani, Davis, and Simanowitz smile on the plane before the conference. “My favorite part of the conference was the affinity groups,” Bhavnani said. Photographer: Anika Bhavnani ’17

SDLC is a gathering of high school students of various cultures and races from across the nation. Anika Bhavnani ’17, Cydney Davis ’18 and Isabella Simanowitz ’18 represented Archer.

The conference began with a keynote speech by Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space.

“Listening to Mae Jemison speak was phenomenal,” Simanowitz said.

“I’ll have lifelong friends and the relationships I built are indestructible. It’s something I’ll never forget,” she said.

“SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participants will 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,” the Student Diversity Leadership Conference website says.

“It was the most amazing experience of my entire life,” Bhavnani ’17 said. “Going to the conference and witnessing everything, seeing the trust people had with one another and hearing their personal stories was really inspiring. It changed my life for the better.”

The conference consisted of large group sessions, smaller family groups of roughly 60 students and affinity groups divided by race, all in order to foster in-depth sharing and dialogue amongst students.

Davis' all

Davis’ affinity group. Davis called the trip the “best experience of [her] life,” Davis said. Used with permission from Cydney Davis ’18.

Davis called the trip the highlight of her year.

“I’ve never felt more comfortable with a group of people I didn’t know,” Davis said.

While the students were at SDLC, three faculty members, History Teacher and Diversity Coordinator Beth Gold, Dean of Students Travis Nesbitt and English Teacher Kristin Taylor attended the 28th annual NAIS People of Color Conference also in Tampa. The conference’s mission is to provide a safe space for members of independent schools with leadership and professional development and to facilitate networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds.

The faculty members attended various workshops that interested them and shared notes. The conference introduced many new ideas that they hope to bring back to the Archer community.

“I want to figure out how social justice and multiculturalism can be integrated across the curriculum. I’ll be meeting with department chairs later this year to help support them [in teaching about diversity].” Gold said.

She also hopes to add diversity to the Archer mission statement and diversify the faculty more to be reflective of the student body.

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