Dedicated to the YES and WE -- Bob Flor, Martha Choe, Marcine Anderson, Peggy Nagae, Bob Shimabukuro, Chisao Hata, Michael Kan, Alan Osaki, Lynn Osaki, Lori Osaki Wahl, Joe Wahl, Debbie McDaniels, Debbie Abe, Hugo Kurose, Stan Shikuma, Tracy Lai, Russell Baba, Jeanie Mercer, Bill Blauveldt, Nobuko Miyamoto, Peter Kwang, Janice Mirikitani, Sharon Hashimoto, Debbie Osato, Wendy Ng, Bettie Sing Luke, Anselmo Villanueva, Susana Wong, Carole Iwamoto, Lawson Inada, Frank Abe, Frank Chin, Curtis Choy, Shizue Shikuma, Lois Yoshishige, Remie Calalang, Iwalani Raes, Barbara Date, Steve Morozumi, Lynn Fujiwara, Bobby Lee, Bob Santos, Yuri Kochiyama and Rest in Peace, Al Robles, Philip Vera Cruz
This was the first UO Multicultural Alumni Reunion I've gone to since it began five years ago. For me, it was like Medicine!
The experience began when APASU students asked me to speak on the "old days" which I did. It was great fun to meet up with the energetic, dynamic, fun-loving, articulate, talented APASU members and the other APIA students they were trying to recruit into the club. And it was nice to be able to talk about the Seventies and Eighties and how AASU and what is now PACAlliance did together to change the landscape of the campus and of this city, wherever we worked, and always together across ethnic, racial, sexual orientation and economic lines.
The next day was Homecoming Friday, and Twila Souers, Anselmo Villanueva, Marshall Sauceda and I were visiting the basement of the EMU where all our student unions are located. I stepped into APASU to say hi, and there was Alan Osaki, Seattle, second APASU director 30 some years ago! And with him, of course, Mike Kan, Los Angeles, third APASU director. They were visiting UO for Alan's daughter, Alexa, who is choosing a college and with their wives, Gigi Kan and Alan's wife, Phyllis Verzosa. It was great!!! Alan posed at his old desk. I teased him he needed to take off his shirt because he always worked in that cramped space in his undershirt. BTW, the cramped office is gone. They had posed in the part of the old EMU where the office once was right next to the bowling alley. Both had totally disappeared with reconstruction! Mike was going through the files, pulling stuff out "I did this!" When Alan observed there wasn't much in the file cabinet, Elizabeth, APASU leader whose energy is so much like yours, Martha, laughed and said "we have computer files now!!" Alan's daughter was holding a East West Players flyer saying, "Dad? Is this thing . . . typed?!??" Elizabeth said, she had picked up a layout original, and parts of it had fallen off. They put it in a file thinking, if they touched it it would destroy it, and as Elizabeth described, " like it was a sacred object or something. " It was fun.
All the way back up I-5 to Portland where they were going to have a family thing with the Osaki's, the two, Alan and Mike, could not stop brainstorming. Mike emailed me the next day, Saturday and between Saturday and today, Tuesday, he has sent me no less than 15 emails:
Mike wrote, "Yes, today was truly an unexpected blessing. You look great, sound great and haven't lost any of that infectious energy. After today, my wife Gigi has been encouraging that Alan and I make a return to Eugene and offer to the students a "success workshop" or "Be victorious or be a victim, but you cannot be both."Both Gigi and I are passionate about exposing young adults w the things they don't teach in school, real life stuff. The reality that you can become "successful" w/o compromising ones core values. We were discussing how many from our group have gone on to achieve success & have remained grounded, evolved and still realize we are all part of a larger community.As for me, I know now that I may not alone change the whole world, but I can have a tremendous influence on my world, then allow the ripple affect to take its course.
You, Martha, Peggy, Kim & Chisao were and have been an influence on me, my global decisions and how I choose to influence others, I want you to know that and know that the work you do matters. Alan and I, along with many others are evidence that you and your efforts matter. Please continue, we are your ripple affect. With warm regards, love and gratitude
Then Mike wrote, As we drove back to Seattle, Alan, Phyliss & Gigi and I were discussing this project. Of course this was a 3 hour brainstorming session discussing many "what ifs" on many levels. We thought it appropiate to do something within this academic year, if possiible. With so much on the line in this current election, the impact of which, will affect the future of young people today for many years. They need to vote! so many are not registered, have no knowledge of the "issues" and the affect on their future, the place they take in their community, having an opinion, voicing their opinion, taking action, leaving a legacy, not just being a benefactor of the work of those that came before. I am looking at the need young AA people today need to realize the impact they have on a broad scale.
What programs and/or professional organizations exist and their purpose
Networking (with other university AA organizations. The seed of networking for career nd more)
Mentoring (never stops)
Success development and how to use it
AO was looking at the "after college" networking benefits for the students and community; (this could have far reaching impact, of course, you'd want to get AO's direct input of ideas and vision).
There will always be the need of developing leaders in worlds of community (politics), academics and business. As you appreciate; "Leadership is everything".
UO APASU could host something, keeping it local or invite OSU, UW, Portland & CA schools.
The financial impact could be minimized to the APASU budget (speaking for AO & I; we'd cover our costs).
Let's keep talking
Then Alan weighs in: hey guys, sometimes it just feels right. One of the things that alot of us have to offer are "leadership development lessons." I look at what you, Mike, Gary, Martha, Peggy have done, and currently do, and it seems a shame to waste all that knowledge and networking experience without imparting it to the next new generation of APA leaders-to-be (generation Y?). There were some sharp kids in that group who could, and I think would, soak up and use alot of what exists is our professional and community oriented histories. I think alot of us have come across that same openess to want to understand the "lessons-learned" from politically and community aware friends of our own kids.
Some other related thoughts: Whatever is done will create the right perception with the current UofO adminstration and will help provide a foundation argument of support for future campaigns and initiatives. Whatever is done will be relevant to the thoughts and needs of other similar APA student orgnanizatons in the region. Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, etc. (and of course that creates the right kind of attention to the community). Last, parts of whatever is done can be tailored (and packaged) in the "language" of today's generation, i.e. use of video, music, visual and performing arts, etc.
Of course, I responded. We brainstormed this and we brainstormed that, who, what, when, where. Alan Osaki starting emailing, then Mike talked with Peggy and she entered the email conversation. Then Mike sends out no less than 5 sample colorful leaflets, with the concept of a Youth Leadership Conference. He says Alan's son, Troy, (google Troy Osaki's poetry) started working on these leaflets amping it up for the youth. Troy is now joining in the idea: The first annual APASU Youth Leadership Conference is now on paper.
We start throwing out names. I volunteer PACA. Alan writes: It looks like quite a group. One of the things I always liked about Eugene, was that you had to either hang together or you would end up hanging separately! Unlike other large west coast urban areas w large Asian populations like L.A., S.F. or even Seattle, in Eugene you couldn't afford to "do your own thing" or not be involved. In that context, I agree involvement with the PAC Alliance would be essential and logical.
The outrageous working title asks WHEN WILL WE HAVE AN ASIAN OR PACIFIC ISLANDER PRESIDENT?
I'm thinking, perhaps, we should write a proposal to APASU framing what we are willing to do. I email Robbie, APASU Director first to give him a head's up. He goes to a meeting, and the energetic group ok's it just.like.that. That is amazing to me. I tell him, since he's virtually just going on faith, that I will have a proposal in to him. I get up this morning and write it, the question spreading across the page in bright red WHEN WILL WE HAVE AN ASIAN OR PACIFIC ISLANDER PRESIDENT? I sent the proposal to everyone inviting edits, expecting them to have lots of changes. Then the responses came in.
Peggy says: This is turning into a family reunion! It's wonderful and powerful.
Bobby says: Wow.
Looks like a fantastic idea! It's an honor to be part of this event and
to working with all of you. Please mark me on board!!
Here's where it starts inside to out with me. The proposal I wrote starts getting read.
Mike says, "Misa, when I think about you, I see love."
Peggy says, "After all these years, you have been there for ALL of us...Thank you so much!
Alan says, "Wow! That took some work - great proposal! I forgot when you decide to do something, you "really decide" to do it!"
I teared up with Alan's email. What the Hell? As I wiped my eyes, I realized these were healing words.
The words "Wow! That took some work. Great proposal! I forgot when you decide to do something, you really decide to do it" melted something frozen in me, a sentence which not only affirms something I did today, but affirms how I am remembered from the past. I am a member of a team. I am a member of a team who brainstorms with fervor and does not say no to anything and it flows and flows, and begins to gel, and when it gels, it's still elastic. I am loved back as I love. And if anything is done for fun, there's no one left out. I am part of a team which, by nature, is excited, energetic, passionate, happy, hardworking, sharing of skills, appreciative of each other and having fun. At the end of a long phone call, Mike said, "Hey, Misa. Are you feeling happy?" I could hear the smile in his voice and he laughed as I shrieked, "I am absolutely thrilled!" to which he said "I can tell!" That he was not put off with my happiness and that he was pleased I was happy was healing for me.
During the conversation, because I have issues, I said, "Hey Mike, did you know I'm tribal? I'm still Asian, just not Asian American. I'm Asian Winnemem." God knows why I would bring it up except for the hurt.
He said, "Yeah, of course. I heard about it. We keep track of each other, you know. You're all about love, Misa. I'm not surprised." To be seen as someone who loves, not someone who's less Asian was healing. Someone knows me.
When I get dreamy and miss the Seventies and Eighties, I now know this past weekend wasn't just a Duck homecoming but a real Coming Home. I know now that I'm not remembering through rose colored glasses, I'm not waxing elegiac. The Seventies and Eighties were real. Those were special days and, more important, these special days are ahead of us. We all feel it still. We all are in love with those days. It affected our whole lives. It transformed us. We tell each other, You Changed Me! It kept us hopeful, idealistic, loving and unafraid. It kept us a team. Like Mike said, "we just picked up from where we were." I've written your names, Friends of those beautiful times, and I know there are more of you. I miss you! And we're going to do our darnedest to make the reunions happen again!! Bring some love together!!
I'm not sad anymore because I know that whenever any group of us come together, even 30 years later, there is enough love to keep us for a long time, just like that, as if no time had passed. And that is enough. That is all I can ask for. I am blessed beyond measure!
Thank you, brothers and sisters AND APASU for some healing love.
Well, Martha just weighed in. " Hi Misa, just saw this and will reply. We are in Dubai right now and waiting to get on our NYC flight !!" and then "It is wonderful to get your and Misa's email. I am super excited to participate so count me in..We are currently in Dubai and tentatively scheduled to fly to NY if Sandy calms down enough to open the airport. I'm giving a speech to the Korean American foundation on Thursday and will be back in Seattle Sunday.Would love to talk with you and see what I can do to help. Thanks so much for the great idea for a reunion and excited to see the next generation in action!"
ONE HUNDRED PER CENT, YES! We're all "in" for the adventure, and calling it fun, calling it family, calling it love, calling it rabble rousing in just three days of an incredible flurry of emails, from Seattle through Portland, then Eugene to LA, east to Montana and around the globe to Dubai. Alan just wrote: Whew...! Finished reading. Re the dates, ditto Mike... Re. the keynote speaker, I think it also depends on who we are talking about and what the goals and intent will be. Possibly, someone who can tie things together and also be a segue to open the door to future strategies (we are thinking future, right?). Some other thoughts .... Mike talked about a goal of uniting generations to learn from each other. That is, with the experience learned over the last 40 years, it's almost criminal not to communicate certain lessons to the next crop of young leaders. And when you tie that in with the natural loyalty all folks of our generation have with their respective alma mater (Ducks, Huskies, Bruins etc) other possibilities arise. There are API alumni from the 60's & 70's throughout the west coast who I'm pretty sure feel the same way about their school, the way we all feel about Oregon .... Anyway, I can smell fun times ahead!
I'm going to bed now having read Alan's last email to us:
Unlike the Rightous Brothers .... We've got that lovin' feelin' back!
My heart feels so good, I got on my blog and cut all the hurt feelings out of this piece. They're gone. Those are the feelings in the past, waaaaay in the past, and I'm going to leave them there. The present is Love -- more grey in the hair, but excited, always, open always, and united.
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