Navigate, educate and teach: Q&A with the Diversity Conference Leadership Team


Photo credit: archer-communications

Diversity Conference Leadership Team member, Layla Huber-Verjan (’22) presents during the Upper School Current Conversations meeting about linguistic appropriation and African American Vernacular English (AAVE). She has been a member on the DCLT since 2020 and she has been reinstated for the 2021-2022 school year.

By London Sinclair, Senior Reporter

How has being a member of the Diversity Conference Leadership Team (DCLT) impacted you?

Alejandra Ayala [AA]: “Being a member of the DCLT has made me more conscious of my own biases. I feel that through many of the discussions we have, my mind has been opened to so many different perspectives. Prior to DLCT I thought I knew a lot about diversity and society, but I’ve learned so much more, even just interacting with the other members on the board.”

Layla Huber-Verjan [LH-V]: “I’ve always been passionate about social justice, so having a place to voice my opinions and a place to foster my ideas is awesome and something that I really appreciate.”

Addison Lee [AL]: “DCLT has definitely affected me in learning about how to navigate teaching and really educating about diversity in a higher education environment, especially in a private education environment. You’re dealing with sometimes highly controversial, which they shouldn’t be, opinionated topics and you have to really approach it in a specific way. So learning how to do that, how to send emails and work with a team. Overall, I think that I have learned invaluable skills that I can apply to other projects throughout my life.”

What do you feel went well this school year, despite the challenges?

Lexi Tooley [LT]: “I think that we had an increased amount of outreach to the Archer community, and we were able to teach more people within our community about some of the ongoing problems that might not be as talked about as we would like.”

LH-V: “Definitely our presentations. I’m a big fan of the news anchor style that we have going on, so I was really happy with how they both turned out.”

Chidimma Nwafor [CN]: “Despite the challenges, I think that our turnout was significant. I know that everyone suffers from Zoom fatigue, so it was nice to see everyone come and show out for DCLT.”

What is one thing you learned this year and want to bring into next year?

AA: “I’ve learned that as a team,  our job is not to be the experts on everything diversity related. Also, our job is not to please others. Our job is to start the conversation and be willing to present our ideas and present to the entire student body, so that’s what I’ll be taking into next year.”

LT: “I think I’ve learned how to make space for certain issues that go under represented and that more people don’t talk about. Especially when planning the Diversity Conference, we usually talk about similar more widespread topics, but this year we focused on making space for other smaller problems that are still significant people in our own community, but just not as talked about. I would like to continue these conversations into the next school year.”

What is something you are looking forward to next year, coming back onto campus?

CN: “I’m excited to try to pursue an in person Diversity Conference day, since we weren’t able to do that this year. I already have workshops and other ideas in mind, so that’s something I’m excited to be able to plan since we weren’t able to do it with the pandemic going on.” 

AA: “You couldn’t really see this on the outside, but within our team, we really got to know each other and we got really close and tight-knit. I think this is important because we learned how to work with each other, whose strength is what, where our areas of growth are, et cetera. I think that because we were so successful at building trust via Zoom and I cannot wait to see how we interact on campus.”

Do you have any goals for the future of the DCLT?

LH-V: “I’ve been wanting to present on microaffirmations as a response to microaggressions. We weren’t able to do that this year because there were only two presentation slots, so I think that is something I want to bring to the table next year. Especially because microaggressions is becoming such a well known term.” 

AL: “I think it’s really invaluable for us to prioritize the student portion of the Diversity Conference. Being able to listen to your peers or other community members give presentations, I think was something that we really missed out on.”

LT: “Continuing to connect with the Archer student body. I think another goal contingent on this, is working with the affinity groups such as BSU (Black Student Union), AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) and Hermanas Unidas. The more we work together and create community, the more effective we will be at teaching the community.”