On May 4th, I gave a presentation and a reading from my novel, A Village in the Fields, for City College of San Francisco’s East Meets West program at the Rosenberg Library. Two classes and their professors were in attendance, and many of the students were Filipino American. My PPT presentation focused on my journey to learn more about the Filipino American contributions to California’s farm labor movement, dating back to 1994, before all of the students were even born.
As is usually the case, most of the students didn’t know about the significant role Filipino Americans played when the farm workers walked out of the vineyards in Delano, Calif., more than 50 years ago. My presentation was supposed to be 20 minutes long, but I excitedly went off on relevant tangents. Also, the professors asked me to provide more backstory for the students, as well as for one of the professors, who brought her English class to the event. What was gratifying for me was that after the presentation and before my reading, three students came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story and our history. All three Filipino-American students were taking classes in Asian-American Studies and aspire to be in academia teaching AAS history, which was really wonderful for me to hear. At a time when enrollment of Filipino-students in colleges and universities is falling, their dedication and passion uplift me.
I never tire of the opportunity to speak to college students. They have a great thirst for knowledge, especially when it is of their own history. Remember Jose Rizal’s words: “No history, no self; know history, know self.”