Hackneyed Schmackneyed: 'Holistic Empowerment' and PTSP Bayanihan

(Sorry, Brian for the delay in posting and thanks, Andrew for the invite)

Hello, all. My name's JP Bareng Schumacher. Here's the obligatory (leadership) resume ala Theresa and Dom:
-Education: El Camino College, AA Psych (c/o Fall 2002); UCLA, BA Psych (c/o 2005)
-Samahang: SPEAR Staff Assistant (Spring 03); SPEAR Peer Counselor (03-04); SPEAR Peer Counseling Coordinator (04-05)
-PTSP: Academics Coordinator (03-05), PTSP Bayanihan Co-Founder and Peer Advising Dev't Coordinator; Co-Alumni Advisor (05-06)

I'm currently working full time for Samahang Pilipino / UCLA Community Programs Office (CPO) as the Director for the SPACE (Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment) Project. From SPEAR to SPACE- who knew?

As the much anticipated focus group at El Camino College nears, I can't help but feel genuinely excited. This event is the result of a determined Bayanihan Coordinator and El Co Site Coordinator (Mr. Andrew Hambre and Mr. Marc Barlis respectively), dedicated PTSP general members, and an exciting collaboration between a PTSP and Samahang Pilipino. Outside of the focus group, the scope and scale of the PTSP / SP collaboration is simply amazing. 4 years ago, such teamwork would have blown my mind (and the mind of my lovely partner in crime, Ms. Theresa Toledo). Come to think of it, it blows my mind now considering just how difficult it was to get PTSP Bayanihan off the ground as a student.

SPEAR and the CPO changed my life- as dramatic a pronouncement as this is, it's absolute truth. In relevance to PTSP, SPEAR training equipped me with the confidence and skills to invest (although, quite painstakingly) the PTSP Executive Board and my Pilipino transfer friends in taking up the cause of Pilipino transfer access to the University. We knew that there was a dearth of data about these access issues, but we also knew anecdotally that our folks were falling through the cracks at the community college. Like Brian said in a prior entry, in those early days (Winter 04), because of the lack of info, 'student driven knowledge creation' was what we worked with and, at the time, epitomized an organization coming into its own to address Pilipino transfer access issues.

As most of you know, PTSP used to be SPTSP- as in SAMAHANG Pilipino Transfer Student Partnership. For my fellow Boardies (shout out to EB 04-05, hahaha) an important document we utilized to shift PTSP back into a progressive direction was the original SPTSP Brochure drafted in 1997. Back then, SPTSP promoted the three R's (Retention, Recruitment, and Research) and according to the brochure, held amazing workshops that promoted academic and holistic empowerment.

Now, Dom is right on when he says that the term 'empowerment' and 'holistic' have become taboo because it's slightly hackneyed now. And let me tell you, some folks (full time staff AND students) that I work with choose not to use this word anymore for that precise reason. But more importantly, Dom is dead on when he talks about just how essential holistic empowerment is regardless if the word is taboo. It's a core outcome for PTSP and Samahang Pilipino, striving to facilitate this amongst its members via general meetings and various other programming and amongst UCLA / CC students via SPEAR, SPACE, and PTSP Bayanihan services and programs.

Holistic empowerment as a means to community empowerment is exactly why PTSP Bayanihan was created. Through working toward your own holistic empowerment, you approach your education very differently. Your education doesn't just live in the classroom- it's in the streets, it's volunteering at a nonprofit, it's what you get out of sharing what you learn with your friends, family, and peers. Further, you realize your education doesn't just belong to you anymore- it's for the betterment of your family AND complete strangers who comprise the nebulous term of 'community'.

When Theresa and I were at El Camino, there was no Pilipino organization to facilitate our Pilipino consciousness, nor was there a Pilipino mentor to engage us in critical thought, Pilipino peer counselors to help us plan out our academic and personal goals, or Pilipino(-American) studies classes. Having transferred and gotten involved in SPEAR and PTSP, we thought it was unacceptable that at the community college, Pilipino 'holistic development' was hinged upon either intrinsic motivation to seek out that self-knowledge at the CC or transferring to a University, possibly deferring critical discussion about identity and education for 2+ years. PTSP Bayanihan was created to do something about that. We modeled PTSP Bayanihan after SPACE and anchored training to what we learned in the CPO through SPEAR and SPACE.

[RANDOM SIDENOTE: I have to applaud the first year staff of PTSP Bayanihan- mostly for undertaking the enormous effort of running a project, the rest for dealing with a recently-graduated, idealistic bugaboo of an Alum Advisor- me. <-- That was for Brian =)]

4 years later, I can't help but feel y'all (PTSP and SP) are right where you need to be. With the current fiscal crisis, classes being cut left and right, student resources diminishing, and the bevy of other access issues, Pilipinos effectively transferring to a 4-year institution is under threat. This focus group will get to the heart of El Camino student needs and will begin anew what Theresa, myself, and so many others have been waiting for- critical dialogue as a means to, say it with me,

"holistic empowerment".

Unapologetically verbose,


PS. Current PTSPers, if you're down for tea and chatting it up with this old fogy about anything from PTSP to post grad life, come visit the SPACE cubicle in Suite 106, Student Activities Center. We'll set up a time to talk.

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