This year has passed by in a whirlwind of emails and events, planning sessions, meetings, and conferences, interviews, sudden trips, and all of those big and small life moments in between. Still, with summer right around the corner and the promise of lazy beach days to come, I want to press pause to reflect and take in what this year, what being a part of this program, has meant. I’ve already written my letters to CUNY and FSU but this one needs its own space in part to recognize the importance of the space you’ve given me.
The opportunity to join the Futures Initiative came just at the right moment when I was nearing the end of an exhilarating and exhausting year teaching at Fordham, wondering what my next step should be. The idea of taking a breather from the classroom to take on a leadership role in running and building a program was daunting and unfamiliar but also exciting, challenging, and, if I’m honest, a relief after a long year of too much teaching and grading and not enough time to think and do my own research. You caught me, in short, at a moment of awkward and uncertain transition and for that I need to say thank you, even though this year has felt like a long drawn-out series of thank you’s that can never possibly capture the complicated emotions and depths of my appreciation. But let me try anyway.
I could list the big public-facing events that you gave me space to organize, including that one in September on “Pedagogies of Dissent for Asian American Studies” that allowed me to bring my questions, work, and myself into the program. This and the other events we organized this year created room for ongoing conversations about the stakes of higher education, pedagogy, politics, aesthetics, and what we as scholars, teachers, and students could do to materialize a university worth fighting for. But while these were occasions to assemble the different publics and communities we serve, to clear space for precisely those vital, timely dialogues, I am perhaps most grateful for the internal, invisible things that this program accomplishes that do not fit neatly into event recaps.
So, let me say thanks by bringing to light some of this invisible stuff that too often escapes notice because it happens during quiet meetings, on frantic phone calls, endless email loops, and–perhaps unique to this program–on giant post-it notes and in ever-expanding collections of collaborative Google Docs. Thank you for teaching me about the tremendous amount of labor involved in running a vibrant, multi-faceted program that cuts across CUNY, New York City, and beyond. I had a small taste of this behind-the-scenes work this year; the relentless energy it takes to track down answers and resources, to wrestle with fickle budgets and deal with inevitable technical glitches, to lay the groundwork, devise back-up plans, and carve out spaces and opportunities for creativity, mentorship, community, and conversation that are so vital–in short, the work that Lauren, Celi, Cathy, and Katina model daily with grace, passion, and dedication. I have learned from all of you what it means to be a fierce administrator and leader, to embody a willingness to listen, learn, stand up, give time, fight for, and defend, all at once, a practice of inhabiting institutions that I take with me.
Read the full post on the Futures Initiative blog.