POCA Tech is happening. I know it’s for real, because I’ve started having anxiety dreams about it.
In the first dream I had, I arrived at school to find out that POCA Tech had been moved. It was no longer in a classroom at St. Charles, it was in the old OCOM facility out on Cherry Blossom Drive. And — OCOM was still there. And — we had been assigned to a room in the middle of the building, so that OCOM was happening all around us. And — the room was arranged like a misshapen Z, so that no matter where they sat, most of the students couldn’t see or hear me trying to teach at the front of the room. So people kept wandering away because they were bored and I kept trying to get them back, which meant I wasn’t actually teaching and so even more of them wandered away. And then Skip appeared and reminded me that the curriculum had all changed, and the only thing we could teach, ever, was Zang-Fu diagnosis.
The second dream wasn’t quite as bad; it had something to do with a surprise microbiology exam that all of us had to take.
When something has been this long in the works, with so many tiny incremental steps, it is hard to believe that it’s finally taken form and is generally visible. When I was a kid, I had a lot of imaginary friends. (Not surprised, are you?) I always wondered what it would be like if one day, other people could see them. POCA Tech opening this week is kind of like that.
This past Saturday was one of those magical clinic days at Cully (in the morning, at least). Everything went smoothly; lots of families came in together; everyone was sweet. Towards the end of my shift, I was treating a person who was asking me about POCA Tech. This happens a lot: people want to know how it’s going, where the classes are going to be held, how many students we have, if I’m excited. (If I could fully believe it, I would be excited.) Anyway, we were talking about all of it, and then my patient said, “What a loving thing to do, to make an affordable acupuncture school.”
I said, “Wow. Thanks.”
I’ve thought about her statement ever since. Who but a community acupuncture regular would say something like that? And also, hell yes.
After I put up this blog post about student loan debt versus expected earnings, POCA super-volunteer Gloria J reminded me that the only reason that POCA Tech is able to offer its tuition at a price that lines up with what acupuncturists actually earn is because a) about 90% of the work it took to set up POCA Tech was done by people volunteering their time, and b) cash donations covered the things we had to pay for. In other words, if we were trying to do this thing in the context of capitalism, we wouldn’t be doing it at all. It simply wouldn’t happen. The only thing that makes the math work out is love.
Muhammad Yunus was right: the desire for profit is not the only reason people do things. Being surrounded by capitalism, it can be hard to remember that. It can be hard to believe that collective love is real and makes things happen. But starting this Friday, POCA will have an ongoing reminder. What a loving thing we’ve done.