Question #2: How do you see your unique identities intersecting with Open?
I’d like to focus on my identities in the context of my nationality, my socioeconomic status, and my educational background. I was born in Indonesia and I came to the United States when I was only one year old because my father was accepted into graduate school at the University of Maryland. We lived in this neighborhood called Langley Park mainly because it was close to the university but also because it was affordable for my father, the graduate student. We had very little money at the time. Now, what you need to know about Langley Park is that it’s in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It is very much a working-class neighborhood where it was very common to see police cars parked in front of my apartment building every day. I saw a lot of things that you often see on television shows or the 11 o’clock nightly news. Growing up as a kid I had this perspective that my friends, my classmates, and my neighbors were experiencing circumstances that were largely not entirely controlled by them. In fact, I witnessed with my own eyes the discrimination they experienced on a regular basis. So here I was, growing up in a resourceful family where education was a top priority, but here I also was seeing my friends’ lives going in a downward spiral. Their parents were barely high school graduates, some were refugees, and some engaged in criminal activities.
Several years later, my father graduated from the University of Maryland, got a better job, and we moved to Montgomery County, one of the more affluent counties in the nation. This is where I spent the rest of my childhood and I live here now. Montgomery College, where I work, is located in Montgomery County. I share this to showcase that I experienced, throughout my childhood, a world that was night and day between Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. It was because of what I saw on a daily basis in Prince George’s County that I knew since elementary school that I wanted to fight for those who had access to fewer resources, and were more disadvantaged.
As I was growing up, I realized that the experiences of those who lived in Prince George’s County and even some who live in Montgomery County was largely because of systemic discrimination or an intersection of inequities. Now fast forward to today. I’ve been at Montgomery College for fourteen years. During my whole time here, I have worked tirelessly to advance efforts in the areas of Open Educational Resources, Open Pedagogy, social justice, racial equity, inclusive and decolonized curriculum, faculty professional development in this OER space, international partnerships and collaborations, and even online education because I think all of these are important pieces of the puzzle that I strongly believe can help increase accessibility, increase affordability, provide a comprehensive holistic opportunity for our students, and ultimately provide or improve equity for all of our students.