From Our 2021 Program Chair

by Dr. Tammy Chang, Passion Talks 2021 Program Chair

This past year, we have seen our world greatly impacted by the pandemic. Despite the resilience of local communities and workplaces to adapt to the need for social distancing with virtual gatherings, remote work, telemedicine, and restricted campus access— this has not changed the fact that our lives have been interrupted in ways we could not have imagined, that the gap in education and income inequality has grown, or that there are lasting mental and emotional health impacts due to prolonged social distancing. Not only that, we have viscerally seen a disturbing amount of continued racial injustice towards Black and Brown Americans, as well as heightened acts of violence towards Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. 

Yet now, as the state of the United States improves, there is a growing sense of hopefulness as families gather again, schools and restaurants reopen, and many companies reconsider the value and possibility of in-person work. I am personally grateful for both what I am seeing and what I have not yet seen but believe will come, as the vaccines becomes more available not only to our country but to the world, and the state of the pandemic improves.  However, I also cannot forget what I have seen. I cannot unsee the depth of the racist undertones of the country my parents immigrated to, the inherent and generational privilege that certain demographics in our society have, or the difference in how the pandemic has impacted communities of different economic status. And as many in our country begin to plan or take vacation trips again, it provides for me a stark contrast between countries of wealth and those countries that are still reeling from the rapid spread of COVID-19 and overloaded hospital systems.  

In reflecting upon the duality of these things, I have increasingly felt that there are two dimensions of hope: joyful hope (as we see circumstances improving) and resilient hope (in the face of problems that feel impossible). This year, our Passion Talks conference theme is “Compelled by Hope,” and we would love to hear about your passions, your visions, and your work that is a manifestation of your hopefulness for a better society and world.

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