Student Diversity Leadership Conference: a reflection

The 2019 SDLC group in Seattle, Washington – courtesy of Mr. Brendon Jobs

Six Upper School students and nine Haverford School faculty and staff across divisions attended the concurrent Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) and the People of Color Conference (POCC) in Seattle, Washington. 

     More than 7,000 educators and 1,600 students gathered from December 4-7, a three-day conference to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. The school has been sending a delegation since 2006.

     Mr. Brendon Jobs came teaching at Haverford in 2016 and brought students and faculty to SDLC ever since. 

     “I’ve found a community of friends, and for me, being able to see those folks sustains me in this work,” said Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mr. Jobs.

     In order to qualify, prospect delegates must complete an application to qualify for the six spots allocated every year. Applications for the 2020 cohort come out in late April and are given two weeks to submit by early May. 

     Mr. Jobs gives advice for prospective students who wish to apply this upcoming May. 

     “Half the battle is just showing up. When the opportunity falls, you’ll be ready for it. If you’re interested in becoming an SDLC fellow in St. Louis next year, just show up to the conferences and events where work is happening.”

     The SDLC sessions focus on self-reflection, forming allies, and building community. Through my family groups, I developed meaningful friendships with the people who cared to listen to my story and views. It’s still hard for me to comprehend such an accepting atmosphere with amazing people.

No matter what you identified as, there was always a place for you at SDLC.

     No matter what you identified as, there was always a place for you at SDLC. This warm and loving community solidified the openness of conversation and deeper dive into what our personal identities meant. 

     For example, I have always been insecure about the common stereotypes and misconceptions associated with being Asian, which is something I am learning to embrace. 

     SDLC has first introduced me to more Asian students in one affinity group I have ever seen in my life. This group taught me that I am not alone with my experiences, as commonly, Asians have tried to escape from these harmful presumptions and become more assimilated within our majority-white culture. 

     The most meaningful aspect of these sessions is the understanding of love.

     School communities today often discourage discussion about embracing our cultures. 

     A prime example of amplifying my voice for once was the talent show. I had so many of my friends supporting me. Honestly, it was the best experience of my life.

Quinn Luong ’22

      My spoken word “To Be Asian” was moving to perform as everybody in the audience gave me a standing ovation, and afterwards my family group gave me a warm embrace. 

     I am still in awe of the people who went up to me and said my poem inspired them. Even though I performed in front of 1,600 people, I have never felt as confident and strong like that. I am currently thinking of how different it would be if I performed my poem here at school. 

     Many participants plan to take the knowledge and empowerment from SDLC and use it to better Haverford.

     “My goal is to energize these spaces as much as I can and make sure people show up to those with as much purpose and passion to student government and sport fields,” Mr. Jobs said. 

     Closed communities can form harmful views about one’s identity. We must start there to help empower others.

Author: Quinn Luong '22

Quinn Luong has contributed to The Index since 2019. He currently serves as News Editor, and he has also written features and campus opinions. Quinn won the Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) Philadelphia-area Student Journalism Competition for Newspaper News Story Writing and will compete for the state title in the Spring of 2020. His article "Teachers prepare for Virtue Villagers" earned a Silver Key from the Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing competition. Outside of The Index, Quinn is a member of the Diversity Alliance, the Pan-Asian Alliance, debate and speech, and Model UN. His favorite classes are English, Spanish, and Chinese.