Earlier this year I blogged a lot about the APALI program I was in at DeAnza college. Tonight I gave this speech at the APALI 10th anniversary dinner.
I am sure no one in this room knows what it is like to feel like the “other.” To look different, speak differently and feel differently than, say, all the people at your job or the store. To be different in your culture and your values, all these components can make us feel alone and isolated.
What do we want, what do we need for the feeding our souls and spirit? Of course, it is community. Having people we can call with good news and bad, laughter and tears, gives us a sense of belonging, being part of community.
When Evan Low invited me to join the APALI program I had no idea I was in for a life changing experience. I had the opportunity to be in a classroom with my colleagues for months, to share laughter and tears, shared wisdom, caring and food for the soul. Through the shared vision of Dr. Chang and Ruben Abrica, we have created a new community for ourselves in the Santa Clara Valley. We are the face of this Valley. We are the face of a new vision of hope.
Daily we are faced with the realities of different cultures, different ways of expressing ourselves (and is that ever different!), the different stories of our lives and the need to strengthen our relationships and shared values to make the Santa Clara Valley the model for this country. We know how to get along, we know how to support each other, we want to see our communities in elected positions, on committees, providing a voice for those who have been quiet.
APALI has given me that and more. Today I feel part of the APA community as a trusted friend. Today I feel honored and respected as part of two communities working together to make our little part of the world a lot better.
Today I addressed envelopes for Gilbert Wong’s campaign because he is my brother. I talked today with Anne Im, Linda Leu and Winnie Lee because they are my sisters. I have been hugged and loved, able to share love, compassion and a vision as a family to change the hate and prejudice to love and acceptance. Our shared humanity gives us a chance to walk this path together.
I would just like to share one last thing, a vision from a Hopi elder.
To my fellow swimmers-
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid, who will try to hold on to the shore; they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river and keep our heads above the water.
And I say “See who is there with you to celebrate. At this time in history we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. For we are the ones we have been waiting for.