The Bulosan Center's Filipino Policy Symposium took place on February 1st, 2020, and was orchestrated by the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. It focused on an issue that continues to plague the Filipino American community: the erasure of its existence from both the history and the present. It brought the community together, which was evident with the attendance of many organizations who proudly support the center. Events such as the symposium are very important. They remind the community that our stories and our culture matter.
Alexandra Slusser-Banh, a policy intern for the Center’s Steering Committee, felt this sentiment when she attended. She states, "We watched a beautiful opening ceremony dance that was conducted to honor our ancestors and set the tone for the day. There was also an opening meditation that moved the crowd and allowed us to feel open and ready for the community building of the day."
Banh facilitated the ethnic studies breakout group discussions between educators, students, and administrators. The group discussions passionately called for ethnic studies from K-12 setting and other pressing concerns that gravely plague the community, such as the quiet and intentional erasure of our community from history. She states, "This symposium was important for me to attend and contribute to because it represents activism in action. The first step is getting bodies within the same room and encouraging connection.
I was so grateful to have met people from aspects of the community I would never otherwise meet, such as East Bay Students, nurses, elementary school teachers, and many more. I left the symposium with so much energy and inspiration knowing that none of our efforts are isolated, and that there is so much passion in the hearts of community leaders and members."
Because Banh is a product of ethnic studies herself, she proudly claims that she is an ardent supporter of the state of California teaching ethnic studies in all stages of academic life. She shares, "It was inspiring to hear students speak of their experiences. Many [spoke] of their college ethnic studies courses but some [shared their experiences of] ethnic studies within their high schools. One specific detail I found touching was [that] the group was so diverse in opinion and rich in experience. Each person there wanted to give what they had to push [for] the common goal, which is the first step for organization. Both sessions had a good turn out and consisted of passionate individuals that wanted to work to improve the education of our youth."
Look out for more news regarding the Bulosan Center's effort to affect policy change on our official website.