"We are still learning this": Education Committee Year in Review 2021

“Education Committee” is a heavy phrase. Maybe it feels like we’re meant to impose a curriculum, or that as members of such a committee we’re meant to hold sacred knowledge we then sing from mountaintops. But I think what actually makes us educators is our willingness to name the things we do not know. We are educators because of our desire to work together to fill in blank space, and to do so in a way that makes that journey accessible to others. We are also educators because we hold dear the idea that blank spaces can never and should never be filled: There is always more to learn.

As a new committee for 2021, I think we felt these blank spaces keenly. We are finding our relationship to Tsuru for Solidarity’s mission:

  • educate, advocate, and protest to close all U.S. concentration camps;
  • build solidarity with other communities of color that have experienced forced removal, detention, deportation, separation of families, and other forms of racial and state violence;
  • coordinate intergenerational, cross-community healing circles addressing the trauma of our shared histories.

And, the ways we might serve it, and finding partnership with our fellow committees.

This December, we partnered with the Policy Advocacy Committee to host a Detention 101 teach-in with Dr. Naomi Paik, who offered a historical primer on U.S. immigration policy and the ways that the contemporary manifestations of the United States’ weaponization of bans, walls, and raids goes deeper than any one administration. The depth and entrenchment of this history makes clear that the liberation we are fighting for has been denied for a long time–and if we are to beat our wings against these structures, we will need to do so for everyone, everywhere. And we will need to do it together, or else be exhausted by the struggle.

This is as true at the scale of our committee as it is at the scale of the world. No one person among us has all the answers, or all the time. But if we each take a piece of the work (is it a burden? an invitation? an opportunity? all of the above?) we can see it from more perspectives than we imagined, and see how much easier it can be to raise a large stone with many hands.

We are still learning this.

It is hard to know the appropriate size of a project, and what tasks exist within it. It can be hard to communicate our needs, actions, and ideas. It can be hard to know how hard these things can be! Sometimes I think, my gosh, we were only able to put on two events in a year? Is it enough? Are we doing good enough work, at a volume that can be heard? Are we featuring enough voices? Are they the most critical ones? Is the work reciprocal?

 

But we are learning. We are learning each other, and learning our practice. We are laying groundwork, writing templates for future use, banking ideas, reflecting on what we have achieved and what we want to build toward. We have contributed to Tsuru’s video archive, we’ve created a robust resource document for further engagement, created space for interactive discussion, formed a community in virtual space, and even supported a Japanese American-owned independent bookstore, which was kind enough to furnish us with copies of Dr. Paik’s new book.

 

The other day, I interviewed for a job, and the interviewer asked me, “How do you define impact?” I told her, impact is a measure of that which is done, but also that which comes next. We know work takes energy. How can our work also create it? How does it carry the seeds of more to come?

 

These questions drove our approach to the Education Committee and we tried to define it in our first few meetings together, and they will carry us into 2022. In many ways, the Education Committee feels fledgling. But maybe we will always feel fledgling–because if we are making an impact, then our worlds will grow larger, and our horizons broader.

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