First of all, expressing gratitude for extending my fellowship until end of 2022, it's been a fellowship full of uncertainty and reward. No one could have expected the turbulence of Covid-19, nationwide racial reckoning, and overall political/economic turmoil. This convergence of social and political unrest threw off logistics, strategy, and philosophical focus. Recognizing my fortunate extension, I will repurpose this learning log as a key check point rather than final reflection. In so many ways, even as my two-year mark arrives, I feel an acute combination of takeoff and arrival in my fellowship journey. These past two years have been rich and full of deep introspection, consultation, and conversation with elders and battle tested advocates. On one hand, it feels like a long dialogue with myself and those I admire and can learn from and yet because of the pandemic and delay in my travels to Laos...it also has been a deferred odyssey of the heart and mind. The ambiguity and angst of not knowing if, when, and how to return to Laos has clouded so much of my fellowship. Now that Covid-19 has become manageable and phased into endemic phases, I'm able to sketch out real plans to visit Laos. My parents, uncle, auntie, and close cousin have committed to joining me on this adventure. My good friend, Tuchi Yang, who's done extensive travel and study on Hmong ancestry has agreed to accompany me to Laos. Finally, I feel key safe and healthy conditions combined with dedicated people create prime conditions for my travels. Although understanding and patient about the pandemic and global ripples, I definitely feel my fellowship clock ticking. I've done the mental, emotional, and cultural preparation about what and why this return trip is necessary for my leadership fulfillment. I've imagined the people, places, and promises to be met along the way. From the Mississippi to the Mekong, I'm done dreaming about the moral and creative pathway home. I'm ready for the pragmatic, existential, and real experience ...to touch the waters of my people's crossing, to grab the soil above my grandfathers' graves, to be where I was born, and transform these imaginations into memories. That is what I'm finally preparing for and ready to receive.
Again, although, I'm far from finished and am just beginning in my physical and cultural journey (Laos trip in November) ...I can't help but wish I knew and lived the principle of self-care = movement care. Perhaps, intellectually I grasped this but took it as cliche and also luxury. The ability to see and act upon self-care always seemed western and individualistic to me, but as I've interpreted it for myself...self-care has become a political exercise and philosophical commitment to actualizing one's necessity. As I've owned and embraced my struggles and suffering, this accountability shifted from resentment to pride...from acceptance to necessity of purpose.
As I peer backwards and presently into the distance, I don't see a distinct peak or valley. Rather, the range with all its texture, depth, and collective majesty stand out to me. Weeping, asking, and claiming my fellowships (Sandy Vargas and Mother Atum) to be my cultural mothers and experiencing their warm embrace will always remain with me. The sorrow of cosmic and filial abandonment at times was never expected and even through contemplation and grace...I don't know if I'll ever fully heal from understanding my displacement in my family/among my own people. But I know I'm still very much in process and in the heart of the current. The joys and heartaches I've experienced through self-interrogation are gifts and very much in just launching. Now that my travels to my birthplace are nearly set, my origin story and my life arc is finally being reset and authored by me.