Community Day 2021: What Does Love Look Like In a Time of Hate, was held Wednesday, April 21st, with much-anticipated workshops, affinity spaces, and sessions to inspire and educate not just our students but our broader UHS community.
This year's offerings included a keynote that our community will forever remember as impactful: "Chinatown Pretty: A Love Letter to Chinatown" by photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu, creators of Chinatown Pretty. This session was open to the broader UHS Community—parents/guardians/family members, trustees, and alumni.
Chinatown Pretty is a storytelling project founded by photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu that documents senior citizens' street style in Chinatowns. What qualifies as Chinatown Pretty? It combines urban utilitarianism with unexpected sartorial choices that reveal resilience, personal histories, and cultural values. Since 2014, they've photographed and interviewed hundreds of the seniors in historic Chinatowns across North America. The project is not only a celebration of this unique style but a way to share the seniors' immigration stories and life wisdom. Their first book was published in fall 2020 by Chronicle Books. Learn where to find the book at chinatownpretty.com/book and follow project updates on Instagram: @chinatownpretty.
This impactful session was followed by an AAPI affinity group meeting where we held space to discuss the Chinatown Pretty keynote presentation. This session was open to all AAPI-identifying students and faculty. There was also a white affinity space meeting titled: Truestory: Anti-Asian Sentiment, AAPI Resistance, and Being White Allies. This white affinity space meeting began with a brief overview of the history of anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. and ways different AAPI communities have mobilized to fight back against discrimination and violence. We linked this history to the recent attacks on the AAPI community and examined some themes and assumptions that have persisted throughout history, including some personal narratives. We saw this session as the first of many opportunities to deepen our understanding of the experiences of racialized communities and build ways to pivot away from hate & harm and toward healing. To dismantle the devastating effects of white body supremacy, we must support each other in speaking and reckoning with hard truths. Those that joined discussed, remembered and worked to build a culture of meaningful allyship.
The day also included a session with the Surfrider Foundation: Waves of Conservation and Justice at the Beach. This session, presented by Chad Nelsen of the Surfrider Foundation, opened with an overview of the history and mission of the organization, then explored topics of beach access, the history of racism at the beach, and recent efforts to bring greater justice to our ocean, waves, and beaches.
Dr. Chad Nelsen is the CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, where he leads the world's largest grassroots network dedicated to the project and the enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves, and beaches through approaches that turn a passion for the ocean into protection. At Surfrider, he leads a dynamic and committed team that oversees a national network of over 80 volunteer chapters and over 100 campaigns and programs that protect beach access and promote clean water, healthy ocean, and coasts.
Rounding out our incredible schedule for the day was Maya Herbsman with a session called: Reshaping Industry: Or Finding Your Power Within. Maya has spent her career working to change the theater industry for the better, and in doing so, found the key to embracing her inner power. This workshop explored how to change what seems unchangeable, how to work within systems to create a better world, and how to find your passion and wisdom along the way. This session utilized Maya's path as an intimacy director as a tool to explore how we can bring activism everywhere we go, as well as bring our unique selves to our work.
Maya Herbsman (she/her) is a certified intimacy director, director, arts administrator, and educator. She is queer, disabled, and Middle Eastern and seeks to foster authentic representations of those and other marginalized communities in her work. Favorite credits include "White Noise" at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, "Ripped" at Z Space, and "Women Laughing Alone with Salad" at Shotgun Players.
We also held a special breathwork meditation class with Chorus Meditation. The unique Chorus method combines active breathing techniques with meditation and music to help ease our bodies and strengthen our minds. Chorus is set to the beat of energizing music with supportive teacher guidance, helping you reach greater clarity and peace of mind more easily than with traditional meditation. During this session, participants learned to harness the power of their breath to engage their nervous systems in a profound and empowering way. This was not your typical meditation practice!
One of our final Community Day sessions was: Connecting with San Francisco's AAPI Community through Public Art. This workshop explored public art that celebrates and/or communicates the history and experience of different Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in San Francisco. UHS students in the elective San Francisco History and Art: A Field Study presented five different works that are significant to and reflect the history and experience of the AAPI community in San Francisco.
Closing out the day was UHS alumna Isabel King '09. Isabel is a professional cyclist who's competed virtually this past year to raise over $23,000 for UCLA Health through her Mountains for Medics Challenge. During her virtual races, she attained over a thousand Queen of the Mountain titles as the fastest woman that's ever gone up a climb. King invited American Basketball player Reggie Miller to join her cause, where they also promoted the Castelli "Say Their Names" Jersey to raise over $70,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative. King joined us in conversation with the Jim Tracy 5K leaders as they prepare for their annual race and fundraiser for the ALS Association in honor of former UHS coach Jim Tracy.