Exploring Identity and Belonging

Group Photo

After seven months in the program, the Tamejavi fellows spent May 25 through 27 at a retreat in Wonder Valley for the second of three residential gatherings they will participate during the two-year program. At the gathering, the fellows engaged in intensive popular education learning, decolonization analysis, storytelling, art making, and social media training.

The gathering also featured the Tamejavi Heritage Gallery, an exhibit of artifacts provided by the fellows, curated by Rebekah Gutierrez and Estela Galvan. The gallery was an excellent way for the fellows to share their history through meaningful cultural and artistic artifacts.

I learned so much at the gallery. I feel very proud and excited. It made me realize that when researchers come to our communities, they learn from secondhand or thirdhand accounts. The conversation we had at the gallery was coming from our own knowledge and our own experiences. This firsthand knowledge needs to be documented. –Bee Yang, Tamejavi Fellow

Tamejavi fellows also participated in a decolonization session facilitated by Gaspar Rivera Salgado, Ph.D. In this session, fellows engaged in a deep dialogue and explored issues of identity and belonging. They shared their own identities, analyzed the challenges faced within their communities, and examined power structures to address issues of gender, class, and race/ethnicity.

Rebecca Bauen facilitated art making and storytelling workshops that provided the fellows with an opportunity to discover their artistic talents. They also learned new techniques for engaging people in their communities through dialogue and storytelling.

This gathering ends the first phase of learning and exploring for the Tamejavi fellows. Now they will move to the next stage: applying what they have learned. They’ll be very busy in the next few months building stronger community relations and identifying ways cultural organization can add to the vitality of their communities.

If you attended the gathering, please tell us your thoughts in a comment. What was your favorite part? How can you use this new knowledge as you continue in the program?


9 thoughts on “Exploring Identity and Belonging

  1. It was great seen you all there. I had a wonderful time during the decolonization workshop, I learned so much about every single one of you. Thank you for sharing about your communities, culture and ideas.

  2. I enjoyed putting together the Tamejavi Gallery and learning from everyone although there are still questions pending regarding the objects. Therefore, I look forward to more learnng and sharing. This is all part of the journey!

  3. The second gathering was so rich all around about identity and belonging. One of the challenging that I keep thinking during our gathering was that, these were such great information, but how could we as cultural organizer bring these into others, especially in the mainstream society. I also learned so much about facilitation teachniques from our two very special speakers on the second day of the gathering. They showed and modeled us how facilitation role should be as a cultural ogranizer should be.


  4. The best part of the gathering was the Heritage Gallery. I learned the history and culture of Tamejavi fellows through artifacts. The felows were very comfortable sharing their culture and their identity. I learned so much about Hmong culture that I didn’t know before. I wish we have more of these Gallery to know more about my Tamejavi fellows culture, histoty and communities.

  5. yo creo que aprndi mucho pero la parte favorita fue trabajar en grupo porque estuvimos hablando sobre nuestro origen, raza, y clase yo recuerdo lo que dijo. Juan de que aqui la gente nos refiere de varias maneras de identificarnos tales como, inmigrante indigena o estudiante indigena.

    Puedo usar lo que aprendi con las personas platicandoles que yo tuve que hacerme un tiempo para ir a esas reuniones y poder tener mas imformacion de como trabajar con la comunidad.

    yo aprendi sobre lo que es una galeria porque fue la primera ves que yo he ido a una que puedo hacer preguntas antes yo tenia otra idea sobre una galeria, tambien aprendi como tener en orden mi folder, recuerdo que el profesor Gaspar nos dio saber que si le ponemos ganas para hacer nuestro trabajo podemos seguir adelante. La histora de Rebeca me sorprendio porque tuvimos hacer cada uno su carro como lo dijo ella y a me hiso recodar de cuando era nina. gracias

  6. I loved every part. I thank Rebecca for reminding me of the power of storytelling and how the use of art emphasize this power. I am talking about the power to touch, inspire, motivate, empower, and teach. Art is the source that keeps these vibrant cultures alive. Our heritage gallery showed me how art has been a big part of that from the beautiful designs of the different cultural outfits to exquisite shapes of the jewelry to the handmade tapetas and rugs. I plan on putting storytelling, how to explore identity issues and belonging, and art into the curriculum for my project.

  7. i had a great time at the gathering, thanks to everybody for showing up and sharing your life knowledge. I learned a great deal from Gaspar about the power structures that exist in our communities. I was also very inspired by Rebecca, and her art project/storytelling. I went home with the desire to continue with art, and have since painted a mural with my family.

  8. The second residential gathering at Wonder Valley was full of information, unique talks and time of reflections. We even went for a wagon ride!

    In this occasion, segment of the gathering was dedicated to unveil our community assessment. We shared about our community with other fellows and learned about other communities through the arts, series of working teams and by responding to some questionnaires related to our community assessment work. Furthermore, we also continued exploring the work around cultural organizing. Two very distinguished presenters came to help guide the conversation about cultural organizing. Dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado for example explained to us the difference between race and ethnicity terms that we oftentimes use as cultural organizer. From her part, Rebecca Bauen who made us to build a story telling wheel car. She emphasized how we could use the art to convey our stories and how we could use traditional artifacts from our communities to engage people for collective actions. I honestly loved this session especially because I got the opportunity to invent something- a story wheel car that tells the experiences of the indigenous immigrant community in the San Joaquin Valley.

    We were given the opportunity to provide an update of our working teams-members of our community recruited to help us with the project. It was very compelling to hear from other participants how they have approached popular education’s concepts with their working teams. It was clear to me that popular education are seen and been pursue differently. I shared that I convene my working team for the very first meeting but because I used some terms (the word meeting) that are not familiar to some community members or they know what to expect they did not came to the meeting. I emphasized how important it is for me to use words such as Fiesta, Convivio to successfully get members of my community to participate because my community are not used to meeting instead we gather for social gathering with food and music-Fiesta. We were given plenty of opportunity to share the challenges and the strengths in our effort to use popular education with our working teams.

    This out-of-town retreat is also designed to provide a space for the Tamejavi Fellowship participants to further their relationship and to have the opportunity to exchange conversations. This time instead of the traditional dancing and singing near the fire as happened during our first retreat we gathered for a team time. Some of the talking points were about our work in the community as cultural organizers while other was experience that we go through as people of many places. We shared about our experiences as people of Iran, Oaxaca, India and as residents of the San Joaquin Valley. The chats was accompany with loud laughs. All this personal time and reflections will stand out as long lasting memories.

    Saturday after a hard working day we all went for a wagon ride to enjoy the scenery of the foothills of the Sierra. The sunset was very calm in that part of the mountain. This ride brought memories. I share with Mirna that the wagon ride reminded those times when I was a kid that I would ride Carretas (wagon) in Coatecas. She added “the only means of transportation in remotes villages in Mexico”.

    The learning from the second residential gathering did not only equipped us with more knowledge about popular education and cultural organizing but it also gave us an opportunity to reflect of our works as community communicators. The fun activities such as the wagon ride took us away from our busy schedule to enjoy nature!

  9. What I enjoyed most from the second gathering that I attended was the story which Rebecca Bauen during the session that she facilitated. It was not just the story where her parents and siblings were affected by radiation that were dumped and tested in the town where they live but how she told it. She used a wagon to tell her story and conveyed her experiences through artwork on and inside the wagon. Not just the making of the wagon itself but the musical background which she used to set the mood and her story telling like voice of her experiences. It was very powerful and set the secenery where I can imagine what she was talking about and felt what she was feeling.

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