Matt’s NCORE Reflection

I would first like to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to attend the 27th Annual NCORE. Although I was somewhat disappointed to hear the present location of this years conference was at Indianapolis while previous years have been in much more renowned cities, that did not diminish the experience at all. Never have I attended a conference teeming with people of similar but yet different backgrounds striving for the same goal of diversity. It was my honor to be there as a representative for Notre Dame, and next year and in future years, I am sure that others will be able to gain as much as Ihave from NCORE.

Considering this was my first ever NCORE, I was coming in somewhat blind. Although I did try to use the website in order to gain a clearer layout of the conference, I found it nearly impossible to navigate a whole weeks worth of author signings, events, conferences, and caucuses. As someone who likes to plan out events to make the most out of his time, would it be possible for us to be provided the Program and Resource Guide earlier to our arrival? If not, a condensed list of workshops sorted by interest (Asian, Black, Latino, Multiracial or LGBTQ interests) would be appreciated. In addition, a brief highlight on the different caucuses held during the conference would help understand what else NCORE may offer. In understanding the diverse options offered by NCORE, I believe it would give participants a goal in mind. It’s hard to accomplish everything I wanted to in just five days, but once I understood the setup, I was able to divide the workshops I wanted to attend evenly. How I tried to arrange my schedule was to divide the conference into three parts: further reflections of self, understanding of other cultures and mindsets, and to have some fun as well. Other will perhaps have a different agenda in mind coming into NCORE, but I think it would be great to at least give next year attendees a better picture of what to possibly expect at NCORE.

In my attempts to understand self, I decided to attend the Asian American Pre-
Conference for the first part of NCORE. It was here that I was introduced to ProfessorMatthew R. Mock of John F. Kennedy University. I would highly recommend him as a potential Asian/Asian American speaker at Notre Dame. His quirky behavior along with his deep insights of the Asian/Asian American psyche would make him an instant hitwith students. He constantly jokes that he is a “passionate Asian”, and his passion iseasily seen and readily accepted.

The greatest aspects of NCORE are the networking opportunities. Beyond finding potential speakers, this was a great time to meet new people, make new friends, and have deep, meaningful conversations. I would encourage everyone who attends NCORE to purposely seek these types of interactions, as I have found this to be the most enlightening aspect of NCORE for me. You begin to learn things that would not necessarily be taught in a classroom. I met a student who was adopted and learned the struggles she faced as an Asian American adoptee. I heard the amazing story of a woman chased away from her country, and I had a more than 4-hour conversation with a gentleman concerning the crossroads of race and sexuality (he actually sent me his thesis NCORE about this topic). Even though I will probably never encounter these unique individuals again, their stories will have affected the lens in which I view the world. In my opinion, that is exactly the whole purpose of NCORE. I not only had the fortune of meeting faculty, administration, and students from various other colleges, but I also had the fortune of meeting many Notre Dame faculty and administration I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet. I had a great lunch discussion with Dr. Christine Caron Gebhardt concerning the GRC’s role on campus and what can be improved. I also had the great opportunity to talk and connect with Kim Pho about the Asian American experience particularly at Notre Dame. Looking back, I wish I were able to meet the other individuals from Notre Dame prior to going to NCORE. I believe this will help us students put a face to a name for faculty and administration that are fighting the same fight we as students of color are facing.

I have learned a little something with all the different workshops and caucuses Iattended, but probably the most revealing to me was attending the white caucus. It does sound strange for me, an Asian American, to attend a caucus with the purpose of helping people who classify themselves as white to network, but that’s exactly why I went: to get out of my comfort zone and help myself understand the majority experience. It was surprising to say the least to hear what the members of the caucus had to share and their insights on NCORE and their work back on campus. Too many times do we focus on the minority experience that we forget the majority is also affected in this “raced” world. I heard stories of various University’s Diversity Programs and Services, and how they are usually the only white person there. How people of color would look at them with caution wondering, “Why is he/she here?” or “I am not here to absolve your white guilt”. In these stories, I discovered that the same experiences we as minorities face are as real and harmful in the white world as well.  My other intention in the white caucus was to hear their views on white privilege and how to navigate this touchy subject. Given the amount of controversy going on at Notre Dame and the particular views held by certain students, I wanted to understand how present the minority’s view of white privilege that could lead to constructive questioning rather than an argument with no real goals accomplished. Much of the advice and insight I did receive was rather disheartening in my opinion, but it has definitely helped. Many of them admitted to rejecting the existence of white privilege in the past before they finally understood what it truly was. In their advice as white people and as someone who struggled with that concept, they told me it ultimately was themselves who had to make that change, but my voice could have some swaying power in their understanding of white privilege.

Just a small recommendation would be to slightly change the business cards given to us to hand out to others. With permission, I think it would be great to have our cell phone numbers included on the business cards. Many times I found myself having to write down my cell phone number to people interested in talking or meeting up later that week. Including any other pertinent information on the business cards would be great as well.

As for suggestions on topics that should be expanded or included in next years NCORE, there should be more discussions on the crossroads of different identities. There were many workshops on being Asian, Asian American, Black, or Latino, but there were few in discussing being Asian and gay, mixed races, or being Latino and appearing white. I understand that the complex nature of diversity sometimes has to be boiled down to a one-dimensional view in order to simplify it, but we cannot neglect the other facets of diversity as well. Other possible topics for discussions are the less known parts of the LGBTQ community: the B and the T. In going to some of the LGBTQ workshops, I noticed how the research or lectures tended to disregard the other groups entirely.


Matt Wong2014-05-29 17.51.29 (1)2014-06-30 19.42.01

De’Lana’s NCORE Reflection


NCORE Conference 2014

On May 26th I flew to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the 27th Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education with fellow University of Notre Dame students and faculty. This was my first time attending NCORE and hopefully not my last.I was approached by Notre Dame Faculty to attend NCORE as a representative of our Native American Student Association. As the current co-president of NASA I thought this would be a great opportunity to become more involved in campus affairs and educate myself on current issues. As the date approached, I was in contact with past NCORE student attendees and asked their opinion about the conference. Their reviews of the conference set a high bar and made me skeptical of how true their memory was. When I arrived at the JW Marriot Hotel I was welcomed by very friendly staff who gave me my nametag along with my Program & Resource Guide. The weekend was already off to a great start and I thought maybe the past NCORE students did remember correctly.

I had shared a room with a fellow Notre Dame student for the duration of the conference. I had never met her before that day and by the end of the week I was able to have the pleasure of calling her my friend. We flipped through our programs together circling which sessions we wanted to attend throughout the week and had to make the hard decisions when we were stuck choosing between two or more options during one slot time. I was impressed with the amount of information in our programs. Any question either of us had was answered in our neatly bound programs.

When I agreed to go to NCORE I signed up for a Pre-Conference Institute session called Social Justice Training Module for American Indian Students: A View from the Inside. I expected the room to fill up and to only be a face that my neighbor would remember. My expectation was wrong; the room had only fifteen people in attendance and by the end of the two day session I knew everyone and everyone knew me. We became so close and supportive of each other that we decided we wanted to continue our discussions even after the conference. The first half of the conference was focused on our own selves and reflecting on who exactly we are. We can’t help others find themselves and become strong if we ourselves don’t know ourselves. The second half of the session was about sharing our personal hardships of social injustice on our campuses, work offices and in everyday life. I was able to give advice about how I handle it and I also received great advice on how I could handle situations better. There is certainly a lot of information that I want to tell NASA at Notre Dame members about. Some of these experiences were very emotional and personal to each person and they gave me permission to share their stories but out of respect I don’t want to put them down on paper. At my discretion I’ll verbally share our stories at the appropriate time.

Throughout the week I attended other great sessions that if I wrote about all of them I’ll be writing all day but one I have to mention was Exploring the Intersection: American Indians and African Americans. This was a short session that by the end was decided that it definitely needs to be at least a half a day session. Thirty to forty people showed up for this session and by the time we went around with introductions and were asked a few questions the time was up. This again was an emotional session because you could hear the confusion and hurt in their voices when answering the posed questions. I myself was very moved by stories that rang true for me too and I was surprised by how many I was able to relate to. The two women leading the discussion were prepared to give us a history of important events such as the Trail of Tears and about people like President Jackson and the Buffalo soldiers. This tragic time in our past influences us still today because the voices in that room were cracking. I would like to bring this to the attention to our campus. A lot of people in that room were nervous to claim their Native American heritage because of the hype around Native Americans today. They didn’t want to offend and they were given positive feedback that I’d like to share. I know there is not a lot of people on campus who claim being Native American or if they do they claim “a drop” but there are those who like the people in that room who were confused on how to go about exploring another side of their heritage. There may be some on our campus who need a little encouraging. I’m looking forward to more members in NASA at Notre Dame,

While I going to the sessions and activities throughout the week I tried to create contacts and to see who I would like to see on our campus. People who I thought were good speakers or who had a great message would get filed away in my head for later. The people on that list I made is Heather Kind-Keppel from the University of Wisconsin. She is passionately involved with spreading the word of social injustice and works to end it one talk at a time. She is very personable and easy to feel comfortable around given the weight of the issues she talks about. The second person I want to mention is Keynote Speaker Vandana Shiva, Philosopher, Environmental Activist, Eco-femist. I loved her speech. She had a great message and after she stepped off the stage I sent a reminder to myself that I have to tell my family about her. The third person I recommend is Sedelta Oosahwee, Med, Associate Director, White house initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native education Office-Washington, DC. Sedelta Oosahwee helped lead the Exploring the Intersections: American Indians and African Americans session and I was so impressed by her. If I were to answer the question of who my role model is, family members aside, I would say Sedelta. I have no higher recommendation than that.

In conclusion, I want to say thank you for the opportunity to send me to this conference. I would never have believed that I would one day be attending such a conference. Enjoy the rest of the summer and I look forward to seeing you in the fall!



De’Lana Northbird

Sharing Reflection from the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity

by Alexandria Moore


NCORE Reflection

At the beginning of the summer I had the opportunity to partake in the NCORE Conference with the MSPS Office. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was eager to be in New York City and be amidst people that shared interests of race and equality. I was also very excited that I had been chosen to go out of so many students that could have gone. There were so many other great seminar topics and opportunities that I felt overwhelmed with choices! I did have to decide on a schedule and if something didn’t partially keep my interest, I would quickly move to my next option. I was able to attend movie screenings, small group discussions, group planning, a pow wow, and large keynote speaker addresses. I felt as though I got quite a bit out of all the interactions and talks with groups there.

In the month prior to going, I signed up for the Pre-Conference Institute of “The Illusion of Inclusion: Straight Talk for People of Color Attempting to Navigate the Troubled Waters of Predominately White Institutions in Higher Education”. I thought that this seminar in particular would be extremely beneficial to me being a student at a predominately white institution. Based on those assumptions, I was completely wrong. This seminar was very informative, but I was under the impression that it was going to reflect on an undergraduate lifestyle, but it only pertained to PhD students and those that are currently seeking higher level degrees and want to work in college administration. Needless to say, I was one of the youngest of the bunch and felt as though the conversation was a bit out of my league. I did, however, get a lot of information and insight on those people who have gone through the process of attaining their higher level degrees and work in administration roles. There were so many people who had similar issues and could relate to one another based on prejudices and injustices they had faced within their careers despite their racial background. I enjoyed hearing the candid conversations about race and career paths, and though I don’t plan on being in higher education, some of the pointers and insights were still applicable for my aspiring future in business and Corporate America. Because everyone was so much older and had accomplished so much, it was great to engage them and network. I didn’t feel as though this was as beneficial to me as some of the other seminars could be so I left this after just a day and a half.

One of the most memorable moments for me at the conference were the two keynote addresses by Van Jones, “Rebuild the Dream: The Next American Movement” and Tim Wise They “Want Their Country Back”: Racial Nostalgia and White Anxiety in an Era of Change. I absolutely loved these two speakers and their messages. It was extremely moving for me, particularly in Tim Wise’s address when he discussed issues of racial tensions and how it has led to more white anxiety. I love all of his examples and anecdotes, but furthermore it made me reflect on my experiences here at the University of Notre Dame. Though I have never had an encounter like this, it is very apparent that many majority students feel as though we minority students took their place here at school or that we are only simply fulfilling an ethnic population requirement. Essentially “they want their school back” and we have been reaping the benefits of affirmative action and unequal educational standards for far too long and it is no longer applicable. I can remember a heated discussion in my freshmen year Writing Composition class where we could write about any topic that we could create a thesis about, and three students chose to discuss affirmative action. I thought that this related a lot to this discussion was very inspiring and insightful. In addition, he spoke of issues regarding immigration where there are newly implemented laws that regulate people more harshly entering the U.S. There have been many instances throughout American history where the normalcy of the nation is challenged and there were new laws put in place to help return the country to that norm. This could be seen in Jim Crow Laws, Chinese Exclusion Act, and Red Scare just to name a few. I liked how he tied in the factor that American tries to have an identity and create a norm image, but we truly are a nation of collective cultures and backgrounds. The moment we can realize that we can truly be able to move forward and overcome racism and prejudice. I had heard great things about Tim Wise before, but hadn’t heard much about Van Jones and was pleasantly surprised by both of their messages and personable demeanors. I enjoyed these addresses very much.

Amongst my favorite seminars, were two in which I had little expectations for, but was extremely inspired and pleasantly surprised with how they helped me rethink things. The two seminars I attended were, “Unlikely Allies in the Academy: Women of Color and White Women in Conversation” and another on the intersectional analysis of race, gender, and class and how we can overcome those differences that have been set in place. The “unlikely allies” seminar was very informative and engaging because of the testimonies and personal encounters that the women on the panel shared with us. There was a wide range of ages and I was able to relate to quite a few of their experiences and outlooks they shared. I loved this seminars’ sense of optimism in how we can overcome racial adversity. The other seminar was great to me because it discussed issues of race, gender, and class which I think intersect frequently so I thought that this was a very strong discussion and was extremely insightful on how we can all be better in our assumptions of others.

Surprisingly enough a lot of my most intellectually stimulating conversation happened outside of the seminars when I was simply talking with the NCORE participants and my own classmates that attended. Rooming with Gabby and Edith while at the conference proved to be a really great experience because of our late night discussions. We discussed so much about our experiences with race growing up and how we have all worked towards bettering the atmosphere at Notre Dame. What was most interesting to me personally was that throughout the conference I constantly felt as though I lacked a connection to the other ethnic groups and could not relate fully to their issues and experiences. After talking with my roommates and taking an impromptu trip to Harlem’s Apollo, I started realizing that being African American is truly a complex issue and that my personal issue is that I feel disconnected from a true culture or country of origin like so many other minorities are able to participate in. I constantly felt that I needed to hear discussions on Black and White issues because they were most pressing. I felt as though so many Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans know of cultural practices, languages, and other things from their past, but I didn’t and caused me to think deeper than just surface level issues we encounter as a minority group. I believed that there were many systemic issues that arose from this very issue that I had problems putting my finger on and so it stopped me from being able to be empathetic toward other groups in their fight for racial equality. My Africana Studies class merely scratched the surface of this issue, but I look forward to studying it independently in the future.

Overall my NCORE Conference 2012 experience was very eye opening and insightful inside and outside the seminars. I really enjoyed the trip and walked away learning so much more about myself and everyone else I was surrounded by in regards to topics of race, gender, class, and equality.