09 October 2013

A couple weeks of dissertation in action

Last weekend was the Second International Babaylan Conference. After working with the marketing and organizing these last several months, and I am grateful to have enjoyed the fruit of the conference/retreat.  I came away with a ceremonial headband from the northern tribes of the Philippines as well as with a connection to a tribal dancing group being formed this next month.  YES! This is what I have been wanting. 

Moreover, I also was able to continue to work through issues I bring up in my dissertation while at the retreat: the desire to belong, alienation as a deep wound, and a language that includes the multiethnic. I’m still learning how to be proud of my Mestiza ethnicity and culture, and I was grateful for those Mestizas/os at the retreat who created safe space for me to process some of the grief. 

Thankfully, I was able to move into more of a leadership role with the next Babaylan event.  I coordinated the Filipina-American Ritual/Opening Ceremony at the Asian Art Museum.  It was much easier for me to feel like I belonged with a set role in the day’s activities.  And, it all turned out so well.   Our altar was covered with a diverse array of handwoven fabrics from the tribes in the Philippines.  Then, fruit of the Philippines (pineapples, bananas, etc) covered the fabric. Just gorgeous!!

And, the ritual itself, with gangsa, dancers, and babaylan-inspired procession leaders, was so transformative.  We chanted and prayed and carried baybayin banners with the words “creativity” and “renew” translated.   Altogether, there was about 30 of us including a Mestiza friend from school!  And, my dear friends from Kularts, CIIS and Bay Area, and the Farm came out!

Overall, I feel such a great sense of accomplishment and connection.  Grateful, also, to have a bit more space to write with these events done and done well.

Last, I want to note the power of vulnerability in my writing.  As I’ve been editing my writing, I’ve been editing a friend’s writing.  We've been sharing our work, and I've been so impressed by my friend's work in particular. She writes: 

“I am fortunate to have received an education that was both interdisciplinary and academically rigorous, where the classroom was the location where self-empowerment and agency were the byproduct of a shared commitment to excellence through learning.”  

With her “assets and strengths” as her “toolkit,” she writes that she carries “a sensitivity to cultural diversity, an inherent intellectual inquisitiveness combined with a critical lens” and also a “transformative pedagogical praxis.”

I am so inspired by this sister’s way of writing, and as I shared my work with her, she was inspired as well.  Now, that’s community.  

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Jay Hernandez said...
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