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NAIS People of Color Conference - Student Diversity Leadership Conference Review

Jaime Roberge
In November 2020, students and faculty/staff attended the virtual New England Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC). The students who attended participated in the Online Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).
As stated on their website, “The NAIS Online Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles.” See below for student reflections on their time at the conference. 

“SDLC was honestly a life-changing experience. Spending most of my life in New England, it blew me away to see such diversity, even though it was only virtual. Everyone was there to learn and grow. They spoke what was on their minds and managed to make the awkwardness of Zoom nonexistent. It was amazing to be able to share my experiences with the group and have people relate. I have never made such a strong bond with a group of people in that short of a time, let alone the fact that we were all in different parts of the country (and the world). Hearing what students have done to encourage DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) work within their schools was inspiring and motivating. I came out of SDLC armed with a group of supportive people to turn to and the skills and ideas needed to make Berwick a more diverse and equitable environment for all students.” - Alexandra Brown ‘24

“SDLC this year was life changing for me. Whenever I would log onto Zoom, it felt like home, and I was able to be myself without the fear of judgement. I got to go into affinity groups with people who looked like me and had the same experiences as me. Being submerged in my culture was incredible. It was also very eye-opening in the sense that I learned so much about other cultures and ethnicities that I haven't been exposed to. It was not only a great chance for me to share my passion and ideas, but it was a space where I was able to listen to others and adopt some of the awareness and views of the people around me.” - Amaya Moore ‘24

“I went into the Student Diversity Leadership Conference feeling excited to learn and listen. What I was not expecting was to come out of the week feeling like I had just experienced one of the greatest events of my life. Many people shared deeply personal stories about their lives that completely opened my eyes to how much of a ‘bubble’ I live in. Many people shared stories of racism they had faced or seen in their private schools and communities. Combined with deep and productive group conversations, we learned about concrete steps that each of us could take within our schools to create a space of acceptance and equal representation. Having the opportunity to hear from my peers about their work in transforming their schools gave me tangible ways I could begin to create change gave me motivation. The element that stood out to me most during this conference was the feeling of acceptance and love that I felt from my peers and faculty, even virtually. Especially in my LGBTQIA+ affinity group there was an atmosphere of genuine support for one another. It was an extremely unique experience. I am so grateful for this unforgettable occasion, and I feel ready to bring my school closer to the wonderful feelings I felt during this week.” - Ellie Crigler ‘23

Berwick Academy

Berwick Academy, situated on an 80-acre campus just over one hour north of Boston, serves 600 students, Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Deeply committed to its mission of promoting virtue and useful knowledge, Berwick Academy empowers students to be creative and bold. Berwick strives to graduate alumni who shape their own learning, take risks, ask thoughtful questions, and come to understand and celebrate their authentic selves. Founded in 1791 and rooted in a tradition of college preparation, our culture of innovation prepares students for a complex and dynamic world.