The Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference (BSDLC) is a wonderful gathering of students and teachers from schools across Maryland and one school from New Jersey. This year’s 11th conference offered many discussions about the topic of diversity as it relates to society and its relation to independent schools. The conference was held at Glenelg Country School with a theme of Masks Off: A Cultural Revolution.
This conference is unique in its creation because it is all student-led from the opening convocation to the workshops. This idea of student-led interactions allows participants to feel more comfortable in a safe place to discuss each topic because the participants are speaking with a peer experiencing similar interactions. These student facilitators understand how important their role is as they are to “inform anyone who comes to the conference in hopes that they’ll spread it throughout their community,” Carlos Davis, a student facilitator for two years, stated.
Every workshop created in this year’s conference dealt with the theme Masks Off and pretending to be someone else or “putting on a mask” in a certain way for a specific purpose or code-switching. Each participant that comes to this conference understands that it is a brave space where they do not need to be afraid to speak their mind and also to listen to others respectfully. The greatest challenge for a facilitator is to find a topic that their students want to speak about as some participants do not want to openly talk about certain subjects.
The students who attended were not only satisfied with their experience, but their expectations were exceeded. Most of the students came in hopes to educate themselves more about the world they live in as an American, as a teen student, and as a human being to be able to take this information back to their schools and implicate change within their own communities. Reward Odilatu, a student participant, said “loved the workshops” as they “had deep meaningful conversations about how social issues were displayed on social media” and “how to identify and deal with the different hate groups in society.”
The students that come each year fall in love with the conference and want a chance to leave the role as a participant and become a facilitator the following year. Both experiences are both crucial roles that express leadership in this conference as well as fostering connections. These connections are so strong that this conference will soon be replicated in New Jersey and hopefully continue to spread in other states.
At the end of each conference, there is an open mic where students may express themselves in any way. Many students are able to get out of their comfort zones and display their great talents, from inspirational raps to original choreographies to everyone. This conference is able to reach everyone on an individual level while making sure to focus on the big picture of diversity.
Categories: BL Spotlight