On Saturday, January 20, 2018 Pan Valley Institute convened a group of community allies, members of its different committees and alumni of the Tamejavi Cultural Organizing Fellowship Program (TCOFP) with the goal of examining what the focus of PVI’s work should be during the current socio-political landscape and after 20 years since the program first opened its doors in 1998.
Other main objectives for this meeting were to review the lessons learned, the challenges that were faced and ultimately, define if the Tamejavi Cultural Organizing Fellowship Program (TCOFP) continues to be the best strategy for strengthening Central Valley Immigrant leadership. Launched in the fall of 2011, the Tamejavi Cultural Organizing Fellowship Program (TCOFP) is an 18-month program designed to strengthen the cultural organizing and advocacy skills of Central Valley’s immigrant emerging leaders.
The discussion was framed in the context of the high xenophobia and racism revitalized by the current White House Administration that is also leading the enactment of new exclusionary laws aimed at keeping immigrants of color out. The dialogue was facilitated by key leading questions: How can we see the current political climate as a time of opportunity? How do we make Pan Valley Institute work more politically and socially relevant than ever before? After a 4 hour long discussion at Fresno’s beautiful San Joaquin River Parkway, participants of the meeting walked away with a clearer sense of direction for the work to be done but also with the realization that developing a new framework for the work ahead will require more than just one meeting.
This meeting was necessary to mark the beginning of a two-year strategic process aiming to position the work of PVI in the current socio-political context informed through the lessons we have learned after almost twenty years of practicing popular education, participatory action research and cultural organizing.