The West Coast USA Asian Liberation Workshop

Led by Jan Yoshiwara, March 2-4, 1996

Thoughts and notes from the weekend:

Co-Counselors came to the workshop from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, and throughout California. There were up to forty-five of us over the weekend.

Jan introduced the idea of having close relationships with people of our own heritage. She worked with a man originally from Thailand. He talked about how difficult it is to get close to Asian men. He described growing up in Thailand and how life-threatening young males were to each other, and how if you weren't being directly threatened, you were having to witness it.

A Japanese-American female shared how the effects of the Internment make it hard to have close relationships with Japanese-Americans. "It tore folks apart-we gave up on each other right and left-we thought we'd survive or get by this way." She mentioned the 442nd veterans and the No-No boys (the draft resisters).

Here are some of the topic groups that met during the workshop:

  • Post Beijingers and Allies
  • Vegetarians
  • Men
  • Self-Hatred
  • "Mental Health" Liberation
  • People from or raised in a Communist country
  • Internment
  • Interracial relations
  • Class
  • Family
  • Student Liberation
  • Graduate Students
  • Hair
  • Raised-Catholics
  • Mixed Heritage
  • Chinese
  • Japanese Heritage
  • Koreans
  • Early Sexual Memories
  • Young Adults

We discussed and discharged about: building a liberation movement for ourselves, being visible leaders, and attacks and criticism.

During creativity time, each person took the risk of participating and showing him or herself brilliantly. Many legends were acted out, songs in native languages were sung, stories and monologues were told, and dances were danced with great pride and discharge. It was moving to learn more about each other through our creativity and to experience our incredible diversity!

We had a panel report on the United Nations' World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. There were six or seven of us who had been to the conference. We were noticing that it has taken us longer to write reports for the journals, perhaps because it was such a profound experience for us being in an Asian country.

Jan boldly and lovingly modeled supporting leadership when she counseled the Asian International Reference Persons and our workshop organizer in front of the group. It was an opportunity for all of us to learn more details and think more accurately about our precious leaders. We saw Jan counsel them around their significance and visibility and their holding out high expectations for our support. It was a great opportunity to appreciate them and to get behind and support them.

We discussed the role of support groups. We go through life looking for the perfect person, but the reality is we can be close to any Asian person. If it doesn't feel like it, it's our distress. We must make a commitment to our relationships and our support groups. We broke into groupings by Region and discharged about forming and further committing to Asian support groups and their leaders. We were encouraged to set goals.

There were many highlights-all of the great information and demonstrations, the creativity, playing at the beach, the big waves, hanging out, hearing counselors originally from Beijing having sessions in Chinese, seeing us support each other, and Jan's powerful leadership.

Leslie Ishii
Los Angeles, California, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00