I hope everyone had an amazing winter break as we prepare for the stretch run to spring break and on to summer vacation! And no, it is not too early to start looking towards summer!
My first time back to the office after winter break was on a Tuesday evening. This was a particularly busy Tuesday, with multiple meetings taking place in different locations of the office. One room was holding a Social and Human Concerns meeting and another was holding a Political Action Work Group meeting, affectionately known as PAWG, a subcommittee for our Legislative Committee. Later that night there was a full meeting of the Legislative Committee, a Minority Organizing meeting, and also a Resolutions meeting.
Officers are usually assigned to a particular meeting or two on a Tuesday, and on this particular night I was able to spend a small bit of time in each meeting. This is one of my favorite things to do as NEOEA President. Each time I get that opportunity, I am reminded of the remarkably diverse group of educators that we have in NEOEA. Each room was different, each conversation was different, and the goal and direction of each meeting was different. The members themselves in each room were different. There were retired, active, men, women, newer, and more seasoned. It so reminded me of a mosaic, the different pieces that make up NEOEA.
I began writing this article by looking for metaphors about a mosaic. This led me to definitions for multi-culturalism contrasting with the definition of a melting pot. Melting pot was defined as a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogenous with the different elements “melting together” into a harmonious whole with a common culture. This was the term used to describe immigrants coming to our country back in the 1700s and 1800s. Contrast this with the definition for multi culturalism which is the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society.
NEOEA is not simply a melting pot of 31,686 members (active and retired) becoming a homogeneous group. What I love about NEOEA isn’t necessarily just what we have in common. The love for our students and public education is surely what brings us together. But the true celebration of what makes us great is our diversity. Diversity in experiences, in ideas, points of view, culture, etc.…. This diversity drives our committees and all of our events. This in turn helps us to better understand the diversity of the students we work with every day.
NEOEA is a cultural mosaic of many pieces that, when put together, form an incredible artwork. There is a place for everyone in NEOEA, and we have so many opportunities for everyone. Perhaps a New Year’s Resolution for all of us can be to find some way to add to our mosaic. Talk to one of your colleagues, perhaps a new educator, or perhaps just yourself, and find a way to get involved. Maybe it involves joining a committee or attending one of our events for the first time. Every one of us has a tile or piece to add to this incredible constantly-evolving mosaic we call NEOEA.
United we are stronger,
Published in our Spring 2020 issue of News & Views