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AMAZEworks Newsletter | SPECIAL EDITION | March 2020
Hope, Connection & Belonging

For over 20 years AMAZEworks has believed in the power of belonging, of creating spaces for all to flourish and thrive - not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences. As the world socially distances, we are here to provide support and resources for finding connection and belonging - with hope that together we will emerge from this with a deeper sense of belonging and equity for all. 

THE MISSION OF AMAZEWORKS IS TO CHAMPION EQUITY AND BELONGING FOR ALL.

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A Message from our Executive Director...

On behalf of all the staff and board at AMAZEworks, we hope this newsletter finds each of you safe and healthy. As we all try to navigate a new norm, we wish you grace, hope, and many, many moments of joy and laughter. Though the AMAZEworks office is currently closed, the staff is continuing to work at home, while also balancing our own family obligations and needs, self-care, and emotional regulation in this uncertain time.
We are taking this time to focus internally on refining our systems and processes and delving deeply into curriculum writing with our Elementary Curriculum update (to be released for the 2020-2021 school year) and our new Secondary Curriculum. 

We are also looking into ways to stay connected with you through sharing of resources and potential online workshop offerings. Stay tuned for more on that!

So, what can belonging look like while we #flattenthecurve? How do we tap into resiliency skills for ourselves and the children in our lives and use this time to practice those precious social-emotional learning skills of self- and social awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and relationship-building (albeit remotely)?

In this special edition, AMAZEworks is hoping to provide for you some reflections on the current state of our world through an anti-bias mindset, as well as tools, resources, and helpful hints for navigating our personal, emotional, and social well-being during these strange and complicated times. We hope you find yourself connected and healthy!

Rebecca Slaby
AMAZEworks Executive Director

Countering Us vs. Them
by Rebecca Slaby

“How can you see if your eyes are so small? How can you breathe if your nose is so flat?” I distinctly remember being on the playground at recess when I was in third grade and hearing a few older boys tease me with those taunts as they pulled the corners of their outer eyelids flat. I also remember a time in college when I went canoeing with a friend and having kids call out, “Ching chong chang…” while we passed them under a bridge. I can still feel the shame creeping up from my stomach and coloring my cheeks, and the burning desire to disappear in those moments.

As an adult, I am grateful that I have had fewer encounters with such overt negative bias and racism. Instead the bias has come in more subtler forms - jokes about being a Geisha girl or an Asian fetish, assumptions that I am good at math and science, being told that I speak good English. And yet, in a time when Asian Americans and Asian bodies are experiencing xenophobic, racist comments and attacks because of the false and dangerous characterization of Covid-19 as a “Chinese virus”, I can’t help but brace myself for being a possible target. (I also recognize and acknowledge that this is an every day experience for so many people from various marginalized communities - people of color, indigenous people, LGBTQ, Muslim and Jewish, immigrant communities.)

Because this is how bias works. When we are triggered by fear, our brains enter into an “Us vs. Them” mode. We no longer see people as individuals but put them into a generalized group, often along racial or ethnic lines. To use the words of Shakil Choudhury in Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs.Them, we tilt towards those who are most like us and tilt away from those who we deem different. Additionally, we tend to have a stronger inclination for negative bias and tilting away from difference when we are afraid. And who, frankly, isn’t afraid right now?

So what does that mean from an Anti-Bias Education perspective?

Read more...

Leaning Into Empathy
by Leanne Cheong in collaboration with Rebecca Slaby

As an Asian person from Malaysia, I’ve been following news updates in regards to COVID-19 in other countries outside of the United States for months. Since the outbreak began in the US, I have encountered microaggressions and vitriol on public transit and in other public places. Historically, marginalized groups have been associated with diseases and targeted as a response to the general public’s fear. In the midst of this global pandemic, I worry about others who are also being targeted at the moment through microaggressions, boycotts, physical violence, or other institutional decisions that are affecting their access to resources.

In times of challenges and uncertainties, while we think about our loved ones, we should also have EMPATHY towards others who have different identities and lived experiences. While some of us are working from home, let us remember the people who are on the front lines such as the health care workers and folks who are working to ensure our necessary infrastructures remain open. Let us also remember the most vulnerable among us, not just in health, but those who suffer the most under our systems of oppression and who have even less of a buffer when those systems break down - those who are incarcerated, food or shelter insecure, those who have lost jobs or child care, as well as the disabled community who have long been neglected by the our existing structures that are inaccessible. And finally let us honor educators who are navigating a new frontier of education through online teaching while still remaining committed and connected to their students.

Read more...

AMAZEworks welcomes a new team member! 

Leanne Chong joins the AMAZEworks team as part of her fellowship with Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS). A graduate from Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana with a degree in Sociology/Anthropology, she was involved with the International Student Coalition as well as Multicultural Resource Center that helped coordinate events focused on racial justice and intersectionality. She is invested in exploring ways to navigate the complexities of our identities in different places. Currently, she finds joy and healing through journaling, cooking, and taking long walks. 

See below for AMAZEworks list of resources to help guide your anti-bias and SEL work through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Comics by Madeleine Jubilee Saito
https://madeleinejubileesaito.net/
Instagram @madeleine_jubilee_saito
| COVID-19 Anti-Bias Resources |

| COVID-19 Resources on Personal, Social & Emotional Well-Being |

Garfield by Jim Davis
 
| COVID-19 Resources for working with kids at home|

If you are interested in being an AMAZEworks team member, please contact our Executive Director, Rebecca Slaby. You can reach her at rebecca@amazeworks.org.

AMAZEworks is on Instagram! Follow us to see images of what is inspiring us, making us think, and driving us to create the conditions of belonging for all.
What is AMAZEworks? If you'd like more information or would like to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to see how AMAZEworks can support your school, organization, or community in creating brave spaces where everyone belongs, call us at 651-493-8702 or email info@amazeworks.org

AMAZEworks training is going online!

Stay tuned for opportunities to join us virtually.

Support AMAZEworks and turn your Amazon purchases into a force for good. With every eligible purchase, AmazonSmile donates 0.5% to the charity of your choice. This includes all Charity List purchases as well as millions of everyday items at smile.amazon.com.
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275 East 4th Street, Suite 420, St. Paul, MN 55101

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