“Listen for the Grace Notes”: Conference Experience Rooted in Love

Dear Bosque Community,

On Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at approximately 4:30 am, a groggy group of eleven dedicated Bobcats gathered at the Albuquerque International Sunport to embark on what would be a transformative four-day journey to Nashville, TN. Our group was comprised of five faculty members and six students.

A wave of excitement rolled over us in Nashville as we filled the convention center to attend opening ceremonies with a moving presentation from journalist and host of This Is Life on CNN, Lisa Ling. Ling encouraged us to move forward in what would be a challenging experience, to slow down and reflect on the moments that shape us. Our weekend would be filled with such moments. Perhaps too many to recount in this post. But, rest assured that our experiences were impactful and rooted in love for one another on an essential level. We took care of one another and nurtured our shared truths to offer dignity to each other during vulnerable times.

Talking about race is difficult, but it is not impossible. We learned that nothing is too difficult when you are supported and in community with people who recognize your challenges, and offer to help you bear the load. We learned to identify the differences between being actors, allies, or accomplices in the face of racism. We accepted the things that left us feeling unsure or confused with the intention of working toward solutions in community with one another.

Every person, organization and institution has a story. The SDLC and POCC conferences challenged us to consider our own cultural narratives, as they have been conventionally conceived, as an overarching or culturally central story that we have told ourselves, about ourselves, in order to help define our place in the world. In doing so, students and faculty members were given space to seek self-love and identify a sense of belonging within their affinity groups and school cohorts. Marc Lamont Hill's closing speech gave a stirring invitation to become more than students and educators, but scholars, by interrogating the cultural narratives of our institution in an effort to identify spaces where often marginalized minority groups see themselves as being loved and belonging to their respective institutions. For our group, that meant we would return to Bosque School prepared to engage in the often difficult work of loving one another through difficult situations. Hill's closing remarks offered a teary benediction - a message to seek love within ourselves first, and then to go one step further to identify ways to express that love within our community, thereby preparing us to change our world.

These experiences have returned us to Bosque more present, aware, and encouraged to see one another, to interact and listen for the grace notes in the cacophony of conflict. Find the grace. Rest in that, and reflect. What a perfect meditation.

It was an honor to have led this cohort of amazing humans to Nashville, TN. I am so excited to continue this imperative Bosque tradition on next year’s trip to Seattle, WA.

Always forward,

Ebony Booth
Director of Diversity
Bosque School

Notes from the Cohort:

“SDLC gave me the tools to take back to my community and further the education of my peers regarding issues of race. I am grateful to have shared such a unique experience with such great people. I will continue to use the skills I learned both on and off campus to further the understanding of racial injustice for myself and my peers.”
~Eyob ’21

“I am grateful my colleagues of color invited me to join Bosque's cohort at the 2018 People of Color Conference. My work as an anti-racist teacher is to subordinate privilege and to deconstruct white supremacy. This work may sound intellectual, but it is bound with emotions. Being at POCC, among 6,500 independent school personnel gathered to cultivate racial equity and justice, opened my heart.”
~Kevin Cummins Upper School English

“SDLC really enabled, motivated, and gave me the tools to become a better person as well as be an ally for myself and those marginalized. I am extremely grateful to have been a part of such a life-changing opportunity and to have represented the school at SDLC. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.”
~Arielle ’21

“The POCC/SDLC conference is an amazing and empowering experience. To see over 6,500 educators and students of color uniting under the common goal of social justice and equal access to fair and equitable education for all was nothing short of inspiring. I come back to my Bosque community ready to engage, organize, and act on comprehensive solutions to help make Bosque the archetype of what a diverse and inclusive campus and educational experience should be. I can’t wait until next year!”
~Tim Green Upper School International Relations & Modern History

“POCC was a great opportunity for me to learn about ways to make my teaching more just and equitable for all students. It gave me food for thought also about how to help create more equitable schools. And importantly it was a wonderful opportunity to bond with fellow teachers and students who also traveled to Nashville for POCC.”
~Leslie O’Hanlon Interim Head of Middle School

Conference Attendees
Leslie O’Hanlon (Interim Head of MS), Kevin Cummins (US English), Tim Green (US History), J’Shon Lee (MS Social Studies), and Ebony Booth (Director of Diversity) participated in the 31st People of Color Conference (POCC), which runs concurrently with the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). POCC offered a vast array of workshops and seminars centered on inclusion and equity as verbs in education and dignity as a fundamental human right.

Atlanta ’21, Arielle ’21, Eyob ’21, Eden ’20, Dante ’19, and Mia  ’19 were spirited away to begin the work of learning how to use one’s individuality to create communities that will shape the world!

The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.” - pocc.nais.org

“2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference, 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. In addition to large group sessions, SDLC "family groups" and "home groups" allow for dialogue and sharing in smaller units.” - pocc.nais.org