By Judie Wexler December 17, 2018
It is with enthusiasm and appreciation that I write this final message of 2018. There is at once a sense of celebration in the air: projects finished; finals complete; a well-earned break on the horizon; and time for family, friends, fun, and reflection. And yet it is difficult to look back on the year without considering the significant, and often unsettling, events that occurred both nationally and internationally.
Words and Deeds
Oxford Dictionaries named "toxic" its word of the year. Indeed, at times, I think it's safe to say, we've all felt caught in a social and political maelstrom. Interestingly, Webster's selected "justice" as its word of the year — perhaps, in part, due to the seeming lack of it.
As I contemplate all that has passed in 2018, another word comes to mind: "Resilience" — that is, the ability to overcome adversity, having being strengthened by the experience, and more able to live fully, connect deeply, and weather future crises with peace.
At its heart, resilience is about transforming conflict into something better. And this goes to the heart of CIIS.
CIIS has never been afraid to face difficult, even toxic realities about individual and community life. We stand in the tradition of justice in action. And we know well that doing so requires a spirit of resilience.
It is embedded in our philosophy and teaching. It manifests in our six award-winning psychotherapy and acupuncture clinics that serve more than over 6,000 people each year. It can be witnessed in roughly 150 Public Programs that are offered annually, as well as those sponsored by our academic departments, e.g., Drama Therapy's Theatre for Change, and in the wonderful work being done by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
It can also be seen in our commitment to international study and learning that has become even more deeply connected to these things over time. With initial connections to India, we've stretched our focus and outreach to other areas of the globe.
Take for instance the work that Charlotte Sáenz, faculty in the School of Undergraduate Studies, is doing in bringing CIIS students, alumni, and faculty to Chiapas, Mexico.
Beginning in December 2012, Charlotte and others from CIIS have visited autonomous zones in Chiapas to live with and learn from Zapatista communities. In March, Charlotte plans to return to Caracol de Morelia to attend the Second International Political, Arts, Sports, and Cultural Encounter of Women Who Struggle, a gathering of women from around the world. The first meeting brought together an estimated 9,000 women engaged in political struggle.
Opportunities such as these pull us from our comfort zones and break down boundaries between ourselves, others, and the world, opening us up to new insights, understandings, and connections.
Making Meaning, Our CIIS Mission
I am proud of all the work that has been done this year by the entire CIIS community to forward the values and mission we've always espoused. I am also excited about new opportunities in 2019 to support action for justice and building resilience, both within the University and beyond.
Thank you all for your part in making CIIS the meaningful place it is.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year,