December 12, 2019

Lasting Impressions from the Student Diversity Leadership Conference

For this week’s edition of DEI Beats, the Parent Org Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee presents a look back at Oakwood students’ recent trip to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference

The NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of secondary school student leaders (grades 9-12). For the past 26 years, Oakwood has proudly sent student delegates to the SDLC. This year’s conference was held early in December at the Seattle Convention Center.

Our student delegates joined 1,600 other independent school students from around the country and internationally for 3 days of intensive identity-focused diversity, equity and inclusion skills and leadership building. A cohort of 14 Oakwood fac/staff/admin attended the parallel NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC) for adults.

Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, our students developed cross-cultural communication skills, designed effective strategies for social justice practice, and learned the foundations of allyship and networking principles.

"Now is the time to wake UP"—Oakwood SDLC delegates speaking at town meeting.

Over the years, previous SDLC delegates have returned to campus with practical tools and strategies to create and implement effective DEI initiatives at Oakwood. In fact, Diversity Week was created by Oakwood student leaders who attended SDLC, as well as the proposal and installment of Everyone bathrooms on campus.

Listen to some of the ways the conference impacted this year’s student delegates Caleb ’22, Emilee ’21, Teva ’21, Kiana ’21, Galit ’21, and Henry ’22:

“SDLC was unforgettable and overall, life changing. The influence and mentality of the other students was so inspirational and I’ll never forget that or them. SDLC is something I would definitely attend again because simply, I’m a changed person that can do better for my school.”

 “I was part of a community that I’ve never experienced before.  Everyone was constantly lifting each other up in a positive way, which created space to be vulnerable and grow.”

“I think that Oakwood has a lot of work to do, but I’m so optimistic because I know I have the tools to help shift our perspective more positively.”

“We were able to listen and suspend judgment.”

“It’s all about having uncomfortable interactions and digging deep past a comfort zone.”

“This was an experience that opened my eyes and turned my world around, through exploring parts of myself I never saw before.”

“I’m eternally grateful to have a space where I can unapologetically express who I am and finally be proud of it.”

“It was amazing to get a sense of a HUGE community that cares about Diversity.  We can work on that at Oakwood to create the space that we felt at SDLC!”

“ After hearing other students talk about the lack of this work at their schools, I am extremely grateful to be at Oakwood where students are given the time, space, and are encouraged to have these difficult conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice issues.”

“We highly encourage more students to attend each year!  Talk to Linda!”

Enjoy the video at the bottom of this page, from last year’s 25th anniversary SDLC to get a better idea of what happens when schools come together!