Legacies and Layers of Love

Photo of a card with a vase of flowers and a polaroid picture of two Asian American women standing in front of a door

The gifts of femtoring

I am still carrying a lot.

It’s been one of the hardest Mays on record (which is saying something since I didn’t even run a half marathon or birth a child this May). For the last two weeks, I’ve woken up on Monday & Tuesday convinced that it’s the start of a weekend and disappointed that, in fact, I’m only at the start of a full work day. We’re only a little more than halfway through this seemingly endless month.

In spite of this, there have been beautiful bright spots, and today, I want to take a moment to give thanks, and to remind myself that there are legacies beyond loss. There are ways to transform what we didn’t have, but most needed, into contributions to others.

This semester has been a particularly affirming femtoring (mentoring) season.

Dear friend and colleague, Erika, who I have known and walked alongside since I was a Graduate Student Instructor and she was an undergraduate, was offered multiple tenure track positions, a dream of hers that we’ve been working towards collectively for the last 3 years. She has worked so hard to write, publish, think through her important work, develop her teaching while raising her little boy and being a devoted mother, wife, and daughter.

Dear Grace, pictured above, completed her Masters thesis for which I was a lead adviser, alongside an incredible team of women who all deeply love her. In the card pictured above, she called our meeting a turning point. We fought for her to be able to complete a thesis project; we navigated multiple challenges in finding a third member (and a committee chair when I left the program for a year) of her thesis committee; we held space for her during a deep personal loss. She graduated yesterday having been awarded Outstanding Graduate Student in Research, Scholarly & Creative Activities from the university and Outstanding thesis by our college. In a few days, she will cross a good part of the country to start her academic journey towards her PhD. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Finally, in my EDSE 457 course, sweet and brilliant Joey wrote me a beautiful thank you card that she handed to me at our last session. What a gift to hold space for this lovely future educator in office hours, to help her see herself, and to make space for her family’s Vietnamese refugee histories and stories of resilience within curriculum, stories that she didn’t have access to in her own history courses. In her thank you card at the end of the semester, she said, “As an Asian American woman, I feel an indescribable sense of pride in seeing you be so successful in what you do and claiming space in such an important role at a university.” More importantly, she thanked me for giving her space to feel all the emotions, to be seen and understood.

These women are my heart. They are my community and my reminders that layers and legacies of love are healing.

I am far from perfect. I hold many emotions in and let many more out. I am carrying a lot.

But transforming legacies of loss and isolation, in whatever degree I can, into legacies of love and contribution, are my most powerful form of resistance.

We continue to move forward in community and solidarity.

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