October 3, 2015
Thank you to all our friends and supporters for joining us in this annual celebratory gathering. Here are some memories of the evening.
When the dust settles after an annual gathering like our 2015 Gala, there are moments that we collectively share in remembrance: the welcome of African dance and drumming, a 15-year-old soprano singing a Stravinski opera, Charlie Parker’s “Lullaby of Birdland” swung hard by a group of 16-year-olds, the reminiscence of a neuroscientist returning to her childhood community, the sense that something special is going to happen, and that we are all part of it.
Thank you for being part of this remarkable moment in time when we thank our supporters, revel in the accomplishments of our students, and dig in for the next year.
Here are some memories of the evening, including part of board member and alumna Mayra L. Padilla’s address.
“I came here from Mexico when I was about 5 years old, and our family moved down here to 23rd, about 15 blocks from here, not very far. My mother, to this day, cleans houses for a living and my father is now a retired construction worker. Very poor family, but very hard working. I went to local schools. After high school I attended Contra Costa Community College, and I moved on to UC Davis. I have a Bachelors’ Degree in Applied Physics. Then I went to UC Berkeley. I have a PhD from there in Neuroscience.
The goal of going through graduate school was to figure out what can I do to create an intervention in my community where there is tremendous trauma and chronic stress. What I learned was, the best way to help a young child develop fully is to give them an enriched environment. There’s not a whole lot we can do biologically. What matters, is to create a community that embraces each child as someone who can create, who has talent, and who can contribute meaningfully.
My career path took me very far – to learn what Jordan knew intuitively. We really need to make space in our communities for children to manifest, to create. To be leaders, and to have themselves seen by everyone. Because, once you are seen, you can move on to do anything in the world.
So, one of the things I want to share with, if you don’t know this already --- immigrant populations, when they come to the United States, the longer they are here, the more mental health issues they start to manifest.
In Mexico we have a saying, “la cultura cura.“ The culture cures.
And I think one of the things that is really the same in our community is the opportunity to learn about our culture, to learn our heritage, to learn where we come from, to be able to connect with our roots --- those deep, deep roots.”