BC Students Take SDLC By Storm


Monique Tinglin, Staff Wrtier

Josiah:  What is SDLC, Peer Facilitator, Guest Speakers:

SDLC is a unique experience. Rarely would you have the opportunity to  witness such an amazing collection of human beings in one place for the purpose of discussing issues of diversity. The Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a chance for high school students to meet with other students who are inspired and energized to share their experiences with diversity, and in some cases, figure out exactly who they are.

This year, I had the opportunity to attend SDLC for a second time. Because I was the only student  from our group who had gone to SDLC before, I took on the role as a Peer Facilitator. The first night, after we got assimilated to our hotel rooms, I went to a Peer Facilitator training session. During this session, I was taught how to facilitate a conversation. A large part of facilitating a conversation is being able to listen to what the people in your group have to say. By listening to what they say and asking questions based on what they say to you, your conversation can move in a direction that you didn’t expect and can make the topic more interesting than you anticipated. One fear that all of the Peer Facilitators had was sounding as though we were in a position of authority. This was a challenge, for me personally, because most of the time, I was referred to as by my title, “Peer Facilitator” by my peers and by the faculty there. However, by allowing my group’s conversations to flow naturally  our discussions  became  more interesting. The conversational tools that I gained during my experience as a facilitator will help me with any future discussion I have and in college. I cannot thank Ms. Prescott enough for pushing me to become a Peer Facilitator.


An important part of our experience was listening to the visiting speaker, StaceyAnn Chin. Chin is a Jamaican, lesbian, spoken word poet who graced us with her presence the second and final morning of the conference. Before splitting up into our family groups, StaceyAnn Chin performed some pieces for us. Being that it was early in the morning, some of us were taken aback by the abundance of energy she seemed to have. Like moths, we fed off her energy, hanging on every word of each poem as she painted a picture for us of her life experiences. My friends in my family group afterwards said that she was the most electric performer they have seen, and they have seen some pretty famous artists in concert. What an amazing way to start our last day of the conference!

Chelsea:  Family Groups:

When I got accepted to SDLC this year, I didn’t know how it would change me. I’m a compassionate and outgoing person, but it usually takes a while for me to get close with people. From the moment I stepped into the room, I instantly bonded with my family group. At SDLC, family groups were places where we discussed the eight social identifiers and were able to create strong connections. In our family groups, the peer facilitators were encouraging and made sure all discussions ran smoothly. Although there was an educational aspect to family groups, many friendships were formed and lives were changed. The reason why family groups were such positive and safe spaces was because of how open and respectful everyone was with one another.

The best moment in my family group was at our last meeting. We were sitting in a circle, sharing our thoughts on the conference. So many people who hadn’t spoken a lot or at all during group activities really opened up and shared personal stories. Their stories touched my heart. In that moment, I felt this energy in the room. It wasn’t the place that made SDLC so energetic and special; it was the people. The time spent in my family group helped me open up. I began to think more deeply about all aspects of diversity and myself. When I shared something personal with my group whom I’d only known for a few days, I realized how much of a difference sharing these stories made. I’d felt closer to these people than  some of the people I’ve known for years.

Watching people open up, hearing their stories, and then sharing more about myself to a room of over eighty people was a crazy, but wonderful experience. When I spent time with any of those people or anyone at all at the conference, I was myself. I wasn’t contemplating what to say or how to act; I had no filter. I acted the way I would if I were at home with my sisters and it felt great. One person in particular from my family group who made me feel comfortable and more of myself was Quintin. He’s a white, devout Catholic from the South whose stories and jokes always made me smile. He became the closest person to me at SDLC and despite the distance, I know that our friendship will continue and only grow stronger. Family groups were an amazing part of SDLC and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about diversity and create long-lasting friendships. It was an extraordinary experience.


Jimmy: Affinity Groups:

An important part of diversity is your race, and which race you identify with. At SDLC, the students branched out into numerous affinity groups depending on what they identified as. There were groups such as African-American/Caribbean, European/Caucasian, Middle-Eastern, and many more. The group that I took part in was the Multiracial Affinity group. It was while I was in this environment that I realized I am not alone. I talked to many people in this group, and all of our stories were so similar. It was honestly amazing to see how someone who lives across the United States can experience the same thing that I had experienced as well. For instance, our facilitator identified as White and Korean. While growing up, he often experienced this duality, and had not really fit in with either group; he was in the middle. After hearing this, a comforting feeling stirred up inside me due to the fact that I too had experienced the feeling of not fitting in with either side and just residing in the center. Other people must have felt the same way, because they started sharing their stories too! It actually came to a point where we had to talk to the person next to us because so many people wanted to share. What was truly amazing about these affinity groups was that people from different places in the world came together, and were so similar. It was while I was in that room when I realized that we all share a connection with each other and that connection, that bond, should always be embraced.



Kirsten: New Experience:

The students and faculty of Berkeley Carroll are a part of a small community. Bringing ourselves to a space which is diverse, innovative and transformative changed the way we view our day-to-day lives. At SDLC, the atmosphere was unlike any that I had experienced. It was a place of unconditional acceptance and immediate friendships. At the start of the conference, Rodney, the chair of the conference asked the adults to leave the auditorium we were in, and had students sit next to someone they didn’t know. I ended up sitting next to a Junior from California who was born in Belgium. Later in my family group, I met a Pakistani girl who was born in Switzerland, had English parents and had traveled to 35 different countries; she was just a senior. Nowhere else could I have found such contrasting lives and experiences. When all the students were in the same space, it felt as though the whole world had congregated at SDLC. There was great beauty in knowing that strangers, people who had different views and lives, respected me. When our time at SDLC was coming to an end, Rodney said, “You, as an individual are profound”. These words allowed me realize that we are all human and yearn for the same intangible feelings of love and affirmation. SDLC was an extremely wholesome experience because I met wonderfully different people and heard the most impactful words from my facilitators. Ultimately, the students and faculty proved that the conference was a place of change, and place so resilient, that it was in fact– spectacular!

Nicole: Adult/Student Affinity Group Session:


Besides being a part of the Latino/a Affinity group I would say the student and teacher affinity groups by gender was the most memorable part of the SDLC Conference 2013. Even though we were in need of more time on the last day I think the small amount of time we had made a great impact on me. I spoke to female teachers of all age groups and from different parts of the country. I even got to speak to a Latina teacher who teaches abroad in London, UK. She shared something with the group along the lines of, ‘ In London my students don’t speak of race the way we do here in the United States’. This got me thinking about why race is such an important in this country, but only talked about in small groups like POC here at Berkeley Carroll. I think people are hesitant to speak about race because it’s a touchy topic where feelings can get hurt and misunderstandings can arise. At SDLC I felt free to say almost anything I wanted because we all agreed on the first day that it was a safe space where we wouldn’t be judged. If Berkeley Carroll worked towards being a safer place for students to share their thoughts I wouldn’t be as hesitant to speak about race and other topics prevalent today. I’m sure others would feel same way as well. I realized I am not alone and that even teachers that are so ahead of me in life are trying to make the same impacts on society that I am. We shared similar struggles and frustrations that come along with being Latinas. However, we were excited to speak about how things are gradually changing for both Latinos and Latinas in the United States.


Joseph: Networking:

       Being at a conference with over 1,400 individuals was somewhat intimidating yet extremely eye-opening. At first I was a bit shy because there were so many students and adults from all over the country, however those two days were extremely worthwhile and life changing. I made great friendships with people from all fifty states, especially Massachusetts, California, and even London! Knowing that there were people with various intense stories was truly enlightening to the fact that no one is alone. In the conferences, each family group incorporates time for the students to get to know each other, and for the students to exchange numbers, and  our names on social networks. For instance, a Facebook group was created for my family group, and it’s great because you are able to stay in touch with all of your friends. Staying with this group for two days created a second family for me. I know it sounds weird that two days is enough for people to bond, yet I really became close to them. Getting the chance to experience something such as this was a life changing experience because I was able to explore diversity more. I will never forget this experience, and hopefully I will stay in touch with my remarkable friends, and the SDLC.