By Simon M.
SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades nine – 12) from across the U.S. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. We develop effective cross-cultural communication skills, better understand the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice, practice expression through the arts, and learn networking principles and strategies.
These are the two most accurate words to describe how I felt during and after my time at SDLC. I have never been so excited to wake up after getting three to five hours of sleep every night. As a group we didn’t even want to go to sleep most nights. We just felt that we needed to go to bed out of principle, not tiredness. The day was split into multiple sections; homegroups, affinity groups, regional groups (the 2nd day), keynote speaker, and a talent show mixed in there.
Guilt. Although told otherwise by my homegroup, I felt guilty for multiple reasons in my past. Although my homegroup told me I shouldn’t feel this way, I felt guilty for multiple reasons about making making blindly and unintentionally harmful, racist, sexist, and homophobic insults to friends and justifying these “jokes” by saying “just-kidding.” I have laughed at these type of jokes, too. At night while debriefing with the other people who attending SDLC and they agreed that they too have been guilty of participating in said “jokes.” That being said, there is no excuse for inappropriate jokes. Consider this email and apology to anyone I may have offended in being insensitive in this way.
Realization. At SDLC we had the opportunity to split up into regional groups. This is where we met up with students from Catlin Gabel and the adults. We participated in an activity where students and faculty members alike had the opportunity to share their ideas. A question that was brought up was “Do you think you school is actively attempting to include minorities (race ,sexual orientation, etc.) or do you think your school just likes to state that they do?” The general response from the teachers was that we agreed that our school liked to claim that they are an inclusive community. The Head of Upper School from Catlin, Dan Griffiths, mentioned that there is a fear that exists around handling topics that might strike up controversy and many people who work there are scared to say the wrong thing. The Director of Equity and Outreach at Catlin, Jasmine Love, stated as a teacher that you shouldn’t feel scared for your job security if a student gets offended, instead use it as a tool to gain knowledge on how to better have handled the situation.
The experience shaped how I plan to interact in our community and showed me how much more work there is to be done not only in our community but the world.