Intermittent snow storms were not the only factor making this week unlike most others at South Puget Sound Community College. After months of preparation, Martin Luther King week’s various educational and celebratory events are underway.
“The planning started way back in fall quarter!” said SPSCC Diversity Coordinator Geomarc Panelo.
When asked what the process leading up to the festivities entailed, Panelo replied, “At first it was hard because it was my first time planning this kind of event. We had a lot of meetings just to make sure we’re on the right track: Who needs what, who needs who; all that kind of stuff.”
He added that MLK planning was in every aspect a “group effort” on the part of this year’s MLK planning committee which was made up largely of Office of Student Life employees.
According to Eileen Yoshina, Director of Diversity and Equity, the committee was led by dedicated students.
The inter-connectedness of this group effort has left Panelo with a fresh dose of appreciation not only for the place where he learns and works, but for humanity as a whole.
“What I really learned about this whole process is that you are never alone. No matter how alone you think you are, you never are! There will always be people willing and happy to help you! People are great!”
The cooperation among members of the MLK planning committee seems to exemplify the ideals of the celebrated civil rights figure in whose memory this week’s events are being performed.
Panelo offers advice to anyone involved in planning or carrying out campus activities.
“Time is important. You have to plan ahead of time, but not too much because you don’t want to leave so much time on your hands that you forget about it,” said Panelo. “Also, if it’s a group effort, it’s always nice to check up on each other just to make sure everything is good on their part.”
Panelo had help along the way, however.
“Stress management? Talk to Eileen [Yoshina]! . . . I had to talk to her a lot during this whole process. She’s like my personal psychiatrist!”
According to Yoshina, the planned events kicked off Jan. 10, with a student panel titled “How Far Have We Come?” held in the Student Union Building from 11 A. M. to noon.
Later on that day on the Student Union Building’s stage, members of the Asian-Pacific Islander Club practiced their STOMP routine for next Tuesday’s Identity Appreciation Celebration.
Led by choreographer and SPSCC student Rebekah Hutson, performers Yvonne Umu, Vaoiva Misi, Melanie Penitusi, He’lene Buckner, and Brandee Medeiros polished the moves they have been working on since the first week of winter break.
Yoshina, Panelo, and others observed the entire practice. Eileen called Club and Organization Program Coordinator Daniella Martin down from her office, along with ASB President Derek Fletcher and Student Outreach Coordinator Deangela Brown, to watch the afternoon’s final run-through of the STOMP routine.
According to Yoshina, Martin will be on maternity leave soon and will not be present for Tuesday’s celebration.
Although there will be no classes on Monday, according to mlkday.gov, the King estate is encouraging people to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by spending this day in service of their community.
According to a school-wide email on MLK week sent out by Yoshina, the Diversity and Equity Center will offer an opportunity for students to put together care packages of donated goods for soldiers deployed overseas.
School staff will be volunteering at Madison Elementary, “teaching social justice activities to local elementary students,” according to the email.
Local collective organization POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights) invites students to participate in their Peoples Summit and March on the Capitol, as well, according to the email.
Panelo advises anyone who would like to sign up to contact Liz Ball at email@example.com or to come see him in the Office of Student Life upstairs in building 27.
Panelo added that “on Tuesday [from 11 A. M. to 1 P. M.] we are having the Marting Luther King Celebration at the SUB. I encourage all students, staff, and faculty to attend!”