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Asian American Studies 197A
Winter Quarter 2002

Raymond Ramirez, "Immigrant Workers and 'Shared Leadership'" Hyun Ja Pak, "What UCLA Students Can Learn from Immigrant Workers"

Gillian Claycomb, "Developing Worker Leadership at the Garment Workers Center"

 

Reflection Journal 2

This assignment is due by Monday, Feb. 18 by e-mail to Glenn Omatsu and Erin O'Brien. This assignment will help students reflect on what they are learning from their research and their conversations with immigrant workers and community-based labor organizers.

The late Filipino immigrant labor leader Philip Vera Cruz once wrote:

"Leadership, I feel, is only incidental to the movement. The movement should be the most important thing. If the leader becomes the most important part of the movement, then you won't have a movement after the leader is gone. The movement must go beyond its leaders. It must be something that is continuous, with goals and ideals that the leadership can build upon."

Philip Vera Cruz's vision of leadership is rooted in the concept of shared leadership that has long characterized the movements of Asian immigrant workers. Historically and today, one of the greatest contributions of Asian immigrant workers to our community is to expand thinking about leadership. (For a further elaboration of Philip Vera Cruz's vision of shared leadership, refer to the one-page document called "Leadership Training Workshop" in our Class Reader in the back section on resources for student activist training. I developed this workshop to help students retrieve the vision of shared leadership of past generations of immigrant labor leaders and other community-based leaders.)

Philip Vera Cruz's vision of leadership stands in contrast to the prevailing concept of leadership in U.S. society that emphasizes command and management functions, charisma, power over others, and personality qualities relating to individualist advancement such as assertiveness. Thus, in the minds of most Americans, a leader is like a general in the military, a CEO in a corporation, or the U.S. President. From the prevailing framework, Philip Vera Cruz and Asian immigrant workers are not leaders.

For this Reflection Journal, write an essay of at least 500 words responding to the following two questions:

1. Based so far on your research and your conversations with immigrant workers and community-based organizers, what have you learned about their conception of leadership of the campaigns they are involved in? Mention specifically those you have talked to so far. How does their approach compare to the thinking about leadership of most UCLA students you encounter? How does their approach compare to your own approach, such as in student groups, church groups, on the job, etc.? Are there things that you and other UCLA students can learn from the approach to leadership of immigrant workers and community-based organizers? If so, what specifically? If not, why not?

2. For your committee work for our class project and for your work in our class as a whole, evaluate how well you are contributing based on a "shared leadership" approach. Note: remember that shared leadership does not mean the absence of leadership but rather a willingness to follow in the tradition of immigrant workers by contributing one's talents and energies to advance the work of all. In other words, shared leadership also means shared responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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