Welcome Home: The SDLC Experience

Rufino Cacho “And in this house, we shall love. In this house we shall seek justice. In this house who you are, is okay with us, and who you will be is even better. In this house you will find comfort. In this house you will find soul food. In this house you are safe. Welcome home SDLC. Welcome home.”   That was the start of a life-changing experience.   I do not think that many people can say that they have become friends with over 1400 people within the instant of time of entering a space, sacred in feeling, and even more so in love. The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Washington D.C. was those 1400 people, whom I didn’t know, but instantly had such devotion for. During SDLC I understood a multitude of things about others, about the world, but more importantly about myself. It was, as the cliché says, one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done. SDLC, for me, taught me to be strong and independent, to be caring and helpful, to be insightful and generous, to be myself – to be human. In this little conference of children from all over the country, peoples of different colors, religions, socioeconomic statuses, places, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, genders but all from independent schools, I came to understand the complexities of what to be human was. That it was not my position to determine who or what you are, but to do so for myself, and to support you in your beliefs, no matter what they may be. This union of different peoples had me snapping to give compliments, put me in groups with people that I had absolutely no affiliation with, in affinity groups that reflected my color and sexual orientation, for I am a Bisexual Hispanic/Latino American. Here in this space of soul, of passion, and knowledge I grew, for it nourished me. Together we cried, and hugged, and clapped, and stood, and raised ourselves, raised to a position that we never dreamed possible. There I was educated to know that oppression is oppression and no oppression should be diluted to a scale, which determines which one is more prominent to look at, because in terms of the damage it causes and the pain it gives, they are equal in measure. I was cultured in the idea of blindness. How being gender blind, color blind, etc. does not help you to see the issue but to be blinded from it, which leads you on a path of tolerance, and not of acceptance of a people. There I was not alone, and although I was, for the most part, not with the people I came to SDLC with, I was never lonely, never on my own. My coordinators were as honest and as loving as parents are to their children, and were more understanding than the animals humans have as their best friends; they were magnificent. As in another cliché, to say that I enjoyed SDLC is an understatement, to the point where if I did so I would forever tarnish the importance it has to children from all over the nation. I am lucky to be part of the 20th year of SDLC, and even prouder to have been part of it. Thanks to the people that introduced me to it and came with me for showing me a phenomenal time. To those who are on the border line of deciding whether or not you should do this, I say go, take a leap of faith, because you will be welcomed to SDLC, you will be welcomed home.    ]]>