Day in the Life of a SDLC conference goer

Six students travel to Anaheim with chaperones Virgil Campbell and Jamie Kim for the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.

Andrew Herman

Six students travel to Anaheim with chaperones Virgil Campbell and Jamie Kim for the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.

Shani Israel, Staff Writer

Junior Shani Israel talks about attending the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.


6:15 a.m.: I hear the faint sound of an alarm going off and quiet groans from my roommates, juniors Jackie Ferrufino and Julia Hoff. I fall back asleep.

6:17 a.m.: Julia turns on the table lamp, and its brightness intensely burns my eyes.

6:20 a.m.: I get out of bed and draw the curtains open as Anaheim sunshine floods the room. I see the Disney castle from my hotel window, and I remember our Disney outing the night before. I dread the start of conference, but I still stumble into the shower and get ready to go.

7:00 a.m.: I indulge in a breakfast croissant and coffee. (Shoutout to Coach Campbell for getting in the Starbucks line for us at 5:45 a.m.)

7:40 a.m.: We head over to the convention center, where we meet our chaperones, Ms. Kim and Coach Campbell, and fellow attendees and seniors Cameryn Burnette, Kali Tindell and Andrew Wan. I am amazed (and stressed out) by the number of people here.

8:15 a.m.: The program starts with keynote speaker Kimberlé Crenshaw, a UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School professor who specializes in race and gender issues. She discusses “intersectionality,” a term that she coined. The focus of Crenshaw’s keynote presentation is the intersectionality of black women in America and how the overlap of these two traits creates more oppression.

9:45 a.m.: Opening ceremonies begin. Speakers and conference leaders explain the focus of the conference. They discuss the concept of oppression in addition to the eight identifiers.

10:45 a.m.: We begin a silent movement. Characteristics from the identifiers are called out, and if they apply to an individual, they stand in silence. I am struck by the incredible range of people here, and my nervousness turns to comfort because I know that I am safe within this unique community.

12:00 p.m.: Lunch begins. I panic as I am swept up in a crowd of strangers and cannot find anyone from SJS. After what feels like an eternity, Julia and I finally find each other.

1:15 p.m.: The conference splits into “family groups,” which are randomly assigned. The theme of the conference is Disney, so my family group is Cinderella. We talk about the silent movement and self-care. We split up into home groups and explore various racism-related terms. I bond with my group and have a great time.

5:30 p.m.: Dinner time. I sit with friends I made in my home group.

6:45 p.m.: We meet in family groups again. I really enjoy bonding with my group, and we keep exploring the identifiers and “what it means to be [insert your race here].”

8:15 p.m.: As the conference meets in affinity groups, Julia and I find each other at the white affinity group. We begin with a lighthearted icebreaker. We then moved into deeper discussions and explored the prompts “I’m white, and…” and “I’m white, but…”

9:45 p.m.: We meet in regional groups, and I find the other SJS kids. Since we only have 15 minutes, we just talk about our day instead of the prompt.

10:00 p.m.: Coach Campbell picks us up, and we head to our rooms. We decide to walk to IHOP for a second (much better) dinner, and it is a great opportunity to bond with SJS students that I barely know. We get back to the hotel and discuss the racial issues at SJS and possible solutions.

1:00 a.m.: We head back to our rooms.


8:30 a.m.: The keynote presenter is DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter organizer and activist. DeRay speaks out about police and other violence against African-Americans and how to approach and move on from these issues. He emphasizes the need to stay in close proximity to people that you serve and the importance of managing (as opposed to eliminating) anger. I am extremely moved by his speech.

9:45 a.m.: We meet in our family groups again. We talk about identifiers. We create a spectrum for a variety of political and social opinions and place ourselves on the spectrum. Some comparisons that incited debate and excitement are about pro-life vs. pro-choice and black lives matter vs. blue lives matter.

12:30 p.m.: Lunch begins. We watch an extremely entertaining talent show. Attendees sang, rapped, read poems and danced as I watched with extreme enthusiasm.

2:00 p.m.: We meet in affinity groups again. We split into groups. My group talks about how to support the black community at our schools and how to speak up with targeted minorities rather than for them.

3:45 p.m.: We meet in regional groups again, but this time we are more productive. I sit in a circle with kids from Episcopal, Kinkaid, John Cooper and Awty to discuss which solutions to racial slurs we currently have implemented in our schools and what we hope to implement.

5:00 p.m.: We meet in family groups and continue our discussions that become increasingly serious and moving.

6:00 p.m.: Dinner time. I sit with friends from my home group, and the talent show continues.

7:15 p.m.: Conversations continue in our family groups.

10:15 p.m.: We have an ice cream social. We jump and chant so hard that adults warn us to stop because it looks like we are going to break through the floor.

10:30 p.m.: The chaperones pick us up, and we go to the hotel rooms. We meet in one room to give Ms. Kim and Coach Campbell a Build-a-Bear from Disney. After they leave, we order pizza and continue our conversation from the night before.

2:30 a.m.: After talking with my roommates for a few hours, we finally fall asleep. I don’t know how we stayed awake so late.