Kaira Espinoza, educator and poet, wrote a love letter to herself when she turned twenty as she entered a new phase of her life. It is a poem that looks at risks that come with exploring the wrong caves with the right map and an inspiration to hold on to reality in an insane world of rapid change. We are faced with more sensory overload, more information and living at a breakneck pace in an overcrowded and increasingly competitive world.
We finally take as our civil rights things that were not permitted only a few shameful decades ago and are horrified, as we should be, at some of the things that recently passed as acceptable. Our very laws have changed in response to a more enlightened awareness. But, what about education?
Do we need to change the way we approach students today? History, art, music, literature, and science have all been influenced by people from a variety of cultures. Including everyone so that no one suffers the shame of going unnoticed is critical. Can children who feel invisible contribute their best in life? How do we best meet the needs of those who are not as interested in what was as what will be? Kaira is a strong voice for changing the way we educate children and embracing everyone with the cultural respect they deserve.
Kaira comes to this point in her life from her own experience as a child born in San Francisco to parents who fled El Salvador’s civil war. Growing up in the Mission during the 80s and early 90s she felt her environment was normal but as a teen saw that her reality differed and started to question the disparities. Kaira has the good fortune to have a mother, whom she lovingly and respectfully calls “fierce”, who made it clear that the key to a good life was education, education, education. When Kaira saw some of her peers, friends and family coalesce into gangs, and despite some of her some of her own demonstrably naughty behavior, she kept her eye on getting good grades.
How can our educational system be improved? Kaira would like to see technology used to capacity and connecting history more effectively to the present for the power of how it can shape our future. How do we prioritize? What about after school clubs for sharing cultural differences so we don’t have to do it just in history classes. How do we teach personal responsibility? Listening to Kaira, it all seems a reachable goal, but formalizing it is a tall order. Kaira, in her work with E3, approaches it fearlessly and with confidence in her own power.
Seems she comes by being fierce honestly and is not faint-hearted about focusing her passion. To hear Kaira talk about life and her poetry that helped balance her life is an education in itself.
From me to you with love in the air,
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