Six students and 10 faculty and staff members attended the Student Diversity & Leadership Conference (SDLC) and the People of Color Conference (PoCC) in Seattle last week. According to its mission statement, PoCC provides a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking opportunities for people of color and allies of all backgrounds from independent schools. Its goal is to equip attendees with skills to improve the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate at their schools as well as the learning, social-emotional, and work outcomes for students and adults. It was an inspiring experience for all the participants who returned to Westridge energized and empowered to lead some very meaningful conversations on diversity, equity, and justice.
SDLC, the PoCC’s student corollary, celebrated its 26th year with 1,800 student participants. Students who attended the conference for the first time participated in sessions focused on exploring their own identity through the “big eight” core cultural identifiers: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. “Our students came back totally excited and fired up,” said Regina Wei, human development teacher. “And most importantly, they came back with the language, the vocabulary, and the framework for how to talk about their experiences. They’re also empowered to lead discussions on these topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.” Westridge brought six students, the maximum number the conference allowed.
Junior Danielle D. attended SDLC for the second time this year and explained that return attendees take part in Diversity 201, which focuses on action steps to bringing knowledge and conversation back to schools. “Three other delegates and I went to the peer facilitator training where you learn how to ask questions to further the conversation in smaller groups. I found that really beneficial to see how you can take basic open-ended questions and make it into a deeply meaningful conversation,” said Danielle. “I think a lot of white people aren’t educated about these things, and we need to have a space to educate them on how people of color and minorities at Westridge feel. Having a dialogue about it is really important.”
Westridge faculty and staff joined 7,000 PoCC attendees from every state and nine countries to attend workshops, keynote speeches, and sessions focused on reframing class curriculums to be more inclusive of LatinX history and culture, setting up affinity groups, reframing Black History Month, activating Asian Americans to combat anti-blackness, and much more.