Every year, students and faculty from independent schools gather together for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC). This year, over 5,000 people, from all different backgrounds, connected in Atlanta to engage in critical conversations about diversity. We heard from powerful speakers (Bryan Stevenson, Rinku Sen and Richard Blanco were just a few!), enjoyed each other’s company, some good southern cooking, and left feeling a sense a unity that has come to seem disparate in recent months.
This was my first time attending PoCC and I was absolutely enthralled the entire time! Equal Justice Initiative founder and author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson’s opening remarks challenged us to change the world by becoming proximate and involved in the hard issues present in our world. His anecdotes and stories brought tears to our eyes and evoked an urgency in our hearts. He reminded us that, as humans, we are all broken and that should be the guiding force in how we live out our purpose and calling as educators.
I love the community at White Mountain, and the values and beliefs that guide our School. Be kind, while seeking truth. Avoid hurtful language. (Check out Head of School Tim Breen’s remarks on our values as a community here!) We are a community that ‘strives for justice and peace among all people, and respects the dignity of all human beings’ (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer). We believe in the power of diversity and a cross-cultural existence.
But, I am reminded daily that we have to do our part. I took what I saw at PoCC, and I’ve been challenging myself to reach out to those on the other side of the aisle and resist the paralyzing fear that stops me sometimes. This is the only way that we can achieve the world we all need now and for future generations. I appreciated PoCC, not only because of the conversations and the camaraderie, but because I was a part of a world where we were all working to live among each other, and that has inspired me to work towards making that a reality everyday.
By: Sarah Wilfred, Director of Communications
Photo by nais.org