Thank you to Dr. Liza Talusan whose REENTRY: A Love Letter from the National Association of Independent Schools and the People of Color Conference was the influence behind this letter to participants who attended the AIELOC Conference 2024.

Dear Colleagues,

We hope this letter finds you well and is filled with inspiration from our first ever in-person AIELOC Conference at the United Nations International School of Hanoi. It was an honor to have such a diverse and passionate group of educators come together to engage in meaningful conversations and share insights on fostering learning environments that are diverse, equitable, inclusive, welcoming, and affirming for all our students. In three short days, we laughed together, cried together, emoted together, consoled each other, and most importantly, we learned and listened to each other. 

Your active participation and thoughtful contributions made this conference a success, and we are truly grateful for your commitment to help us advance the work of AIELOC. 

As we transition back to our respective countries and international schools, we must shift our focus back to our students and begin the process of upholding the commitments we’ve made to them during our time together.  We know that you’ve acquired a plethora of knowledge and resources from the amazing workshops you attended and, understandably so, you’re still processing this information along with all of the emotions you experienced throughout the conference.

To help simplify things for you, we invite you to embrace the following mantra:  “Start Small, Dream Big”.  As we individually reflect on what that radical dream looks like for each of us, here are three guiding questions that you should consider:

  • What is one small thing that I can do immediately to work towards that radical dream?
  • How can I include my students in the process of radical dreaming? What active roles can they play?
  • How will I prioritize my self care as I’m doing this important work? What boundaries will I put in place to protect myself from harm?     

To continue the momentum and translate the valuable insights gained at the conference into actionable steps within your respective schools, here are a few recommended next steps from the article, “Embracing Uncomfortability In Support of Marginalized Students” that you can take right now:  

  • Interrogation of Personal Biases: We are all prejudiced and biased by human nature, so we need to conduct a personal audit of our feelings and behaviors around the issues of race, class, language, gender, sexual orientation, and other identity markers.
  • Agency Building: Educate yourself on the diverse perspectives of a specific issue so that you can develop your own informed perspective on the matter.  That can be reading books, listening to podcasts, learning from verified subject matter experts, etc.
  • Community Building: Surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals who are just as determined to disrupt, learn, unlearn, relearn, and grow as you are.
  • Critical Humility: Decenter yourself and create space for your historically marginalized students.  That means recognizing your power and positionality to know that you can’t fully speak about oppressive acts against historically marginalized people without having the lived experience. Educate yourself to understand.
  • Mistakes are Inevitable, So Give Yourself Grace: Understand that mistakes will happen along the way.  That’s expected when you’re truly engaging in deep (un)learning and relearning.  Perfectionism has no place here.  Understand that call-ins are not condemnations but rather opportunities for growth.
  • Critical Empathy: Decenter yourself and take a step back to understand and educate yourself on the emotional impact that acts of oppression and discrimination have on historically marginalized people.  

Remember that fostering a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice is an ongoing process that requires dedication and collective effort. Your commitment to these principles is instrumental in creating positive and lasting change in our international schools.

Once again, thank you for your participation in the conference. We look forward to witnessing the transformative impact of your efforts in your respective schools and communities.

See you in Accra!

Warm regards,