December 10, 2019
By Hannah Brauer (she/her/hers), Photographer/Writer Student Lead
Cindy Lin (she/her/hers) is a senior studying Political Science and Asian Studies. In her first year working for MESA, she became part of the pilot program for the Anti-Racism and Coalition Building Teach-Ins. Since then, her team has developed into the Peer Inclusive Educators (PIE) Team.
Interested in learning about or getting involved with the team? Hear from Cindy and learn about her experiences to get some of your questions answered!
Can you describe what PIE is and does?
PIE stands for Peer Inclusive Educator. Our team has developed a 90-minute interactive workshop, or as we call them, "teach-ins" focused on anti-racism and coalition building. Our main focus as the PIE Team is to educate students and student groups on campus to raise awareness on these important topics. We hope that we can empower individuals to identify how racism plays into their everyday lives, recognize their own individual participation in a racist system, develop personal action steps to combat racism, and more.
Can you tell me about the partnership with the Michigan Housing Diversity Peer Educators (DPEs) and the Global Scholars Program (GSP)?
Even though our PIE Team is only in its second year, we have already developed a partnership with the DPEs and with GSP. We couldn't be more excited to be working with these organizations, especially because they both share such similar goals as we do [to make our campus and our world better than we left it]. At the end of the day, we are all just students collectively trying to educate and empower others, and we all choose to do this in different ways.
With our partnership with the DPEs, we are hoping to schedule at least one Anti-Racism Teach-In for every residential dorm on campus. This way, we are taking the message straight to [residents], and we are hoping that this can encourage a higher attendance rate for the Teach-Ins. Our partnership is still fairly new so we are still trying to work out the logistics, but I'm excited for this to continue and grow into a fully developed partnership! Our partnership with GSP involves going to North Quad, where GSP students live and host an Anti-Racism teach-in for their students. First-year students in GSP need to attend at least three 90-minute dialogues as part of their program requirements so we felt that this was a perfect opportunity to create a partnership where the PIE Team can come in and facilitate one of those dialogues.
What is your specific role as a Peer Inclusive Educator entail?
As a PIE Team member, we are offered a large amount of autonomy. There are only four of us on the team, including our direct supervisor, Krishna Han. My role as a Peer Inclusive Educator involves a lot of building and sustaining professional relationships (such as DPEs and GSP), as well as communicating and outreaching with students and organizations to understand their needs and advertise our resources. This role involves a lot of leadership skills, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills.
How has your experience been? Do you have any specific moments you remember that impacted you while in this role?
I transferred here last fall in 2018 and working with MESA was one of the first things I got involved with on campus. I knew that I wanted to be involved in something related to social justice, and when I saw this job opening, I knew that I had to apply. I'm so happy that I did, and I'm even happier that I continued into a second year because of the amazing friends and support system I have gained through this job.
Krishna is the best supervisor that I could have ever asked for. He is one of the most supportive people I've ever met and he makes working for MESA such a joy. One moment that I remember was last March when we met for our weekly 1:1 meeting. He asked me how I was doing as he always does and I told him that I was feeling homesick and really missed my mom and her home-cooking. He immediately said that we should move this meeting over lunch. We met up with our other team member, Saida, and within 20 minutes, we were sitting at Asian Legend, eating Chinese food, hanging out, and talking about work too! I will remember this moment forever because it meant so much to me and showed me that Krishna not only cares about me as an employee but also as a person. Moments like these are exactly why I love MESA so much. Everyone here is so welcoming, empowering, supportive, and warm. It is so refreshing to interact with these people and I'm so grateful to be working here.
What have you learned through this work?
Through this work, I've learned how important the role of facilitation is. It's a lot more difficult than it sounds but it's also way more meaningful than it sounds too. Facilitating involves intention. You need to be intentional about everything you do. Are you creating a safe campus environment for the participants? Did you welcome them with a smile and a warm greeting? Did you create guidelines for this teach-in? How are you presenting yourself to them? Are you using inclusive language?
I've learned that good facilitation can change the world. I used to think that facilitation was just something that people do on college campuses, but I've learned that it stems far beyond college. The knowledge you share and the empowerment you strive to give through your facilitation can impact individuals in a way that can last a lifetime. This work is so meaningful and I'm so proud to be part of something that is greater than myself.