This past weekend (March 1st & 2nd) the Pacific Islander Student Alliance (PISA) hosted its annual PISACON (Conference) at the University of Washington. Housed in the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center. 10 universities/colleges joined in solidarity to celebrate, assess, critique and honor our Pacific Islander people and experiences. Over 100 Pacific Islander students in higher education from Oregon and Washington gathered with over 30 community and professionals of Oceania. Making this annual event the only multi-state, multi-university/college, student founded and centered Pacific Islander Conference running in the US.
Over the years we have grown into a very large family. Starting off with just three schools, we now have over 15 college/universities in our networks. The amount of time, energy and sacrifices that are needed to make this gathering possible are beyond words and action. Family also takes time, energy and sacrifice to grow and as we grow as an organization, it will be our family structure that helps us navigate this journey. So to all our family, please accept these words of gratitude as we reflect on another great year of PISACON
- To all our students who attended physically and in spirit, we are blown away by your knowledge, wisdom and commitment. The unity in our many experiences and willingness to share openly, provided us the energy we needed to grow. Our future as a family is in great hands.
- Staff, faculty and community members. Once again, we have modeled what sacrifice looks like and what fruits it harbors for our future. One day we’ll all have statues 😛
- To the University of Washington (ECC Staff, PSA, MIC & Intellectual House), we are grateful for your leadership and hospitality. Each year we try and grow more and more. This year was a great year for our growth.
- Toka Valu, thank you for taking the lead on this project. I hope your students, co-workers and family members know how much your time and efforts changed the lives of our Pacific Islander students and leaders. We are indebted to you for everything you’ve provided.
- Presenters and Keynotes: We are grateful for your knowledge and willingness to share. Your research, programming, organizing and efforts were on full display this weekend. We are excited to see what happens when that knowledge you shared and knowing that it lives throughout our students. You have planted majors seeds for our future and we grateful for that.
- Planning Committee: So many people who helped plan PISACON19 were not even available to make it this year. Our work for Oceania spreads out so far and wide, we are just not able to be everywhere at one time. To all the invisible hands and those “on deck” we thank you for your commitment throughout the year and appreciate the support as we work towards next year.
- To all our sponsors: To the long list of sponsors who made this possible. From university offices, community organizations & programs, personal donations and facilities; your major contributions were felt throughout PISACON19 and we hope there are ways for us to reciprocate our appreciation in the future.
Words are always hard to express and fulfill our gratitude. I remember this quote, “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words” being thrown around a lot when I was a “younger” organizer. I think the same could be said for how we show our appreciation for PISACON19. This letter is necessary to show our gratitude , as well as our commitment to our work after conference. As we start the process for PISACON20 & PISACON21, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that the end product of these conferences offers a great amount of gratification.
Our commitment to PISA is the best way we know how to say thank you to all our sponsors, elders and students alike. As we approach 10 years of conference (the first conference was in 2010), we are hoping to share our work and endeavors to allow more people to say “thank you” through service.
Lastly, remember always that we do this work out of love, because we love you. We love your ocean, your mountains, lagoons, your struggle and perseverance, your identities and discoveries. We love your commitment to each other, ancestors and the future. Please remember this special moment in time and think of each other always.
With all the love an ocean can carry,