Recently POCA Tech has been tasked with a Self Study for ACAOM, where we analyze the effectiveness of our school. Student circle was asked to contribute a paragraph or two on how we “see student organizing efforts benefiting [us] as individuals, as cohorts, and also the school itself.” This is pretty much what we wrote and when we finished we thought to ourselves, hot damn, we ought to share this. So please enjoy our passion translated into academic wonky jargon.
How do we benefit from our student circle work? Let us count the ways:
By tending to the needs of our school and our community, we as individuals, are becoming more organized, empathetic, and flexible. We are increasing our capacity to think creatively and resolve conflict. “Practitioner cultivation” is one of the focuses at some acupuncture schools, for example developing values such as humility and compassion. One of the expressed values of liberation acupuncture is solidarity and accompaniment. If we as students have our education handed to us in one easy package, we can more easily lose the perspective of others who are struggling to get an education, let alone struggling for basic survival. If the work of creating and maintaining this school was solely performed by volunteers or paid staff, either less would get accomplished, or the cost of tuition would go up. Some of us wouldn't be able to attend this school if it were more expensive, so we like to think that our involvement helps us to pay our way and keep the costs down. We like to remember that we are all here on scholarship and will pay back what was so generously given to us by paying it forward and practicing community acupuncture. When we interact with faculty and administrators in a work based setting, rather than a class setting we get opportunities that wouldn't otherwise arise, which prepare us to work cooperatively and manage our own community clinics. Additionally, while working together, we get a sense of who we might work best with in the future. Lastly, this work is fun! We enjoy doing meaningful work that supports our school, while getting to see and interact with each other outside of class.
As cohorts we learn collectively so we act interdependently, we share information, notes, resources, etc. We quiz, encourage and tutor each other, we support each other both academically and personally. The POCA and POCA Tech community values transparency and as a result, we as a cohort can make fully informed decisions. We have access to power because we have agency, information, and ability to collectively make decisions that will benefit ourselves and future cohorts.
The school as an organism benefits from student involvement because weight is taken from the shoulders of faculty and administrators. When students see a need we are encouraged to find a solution and through this, many proposals have been drafted by students and passed onto General Circle to be approved by faculty and administrators.This has saved the POCA Tech staff time and effort. When the implementation of these policies is left to us, we get the excitement of seeing a need a project come full circle. So many times, when something is unfair or unjust or wrong, we have had little ability or resources to do anything about it. So it is truly gratifying and healing to see that we can in fact be useful and effective agents of change.
Direct student involvement in the governing and implementation process contributes significantly to a sense of ownership, pride, and gratitude for the work of all others involved. Gratitude goes a long way in keeping a school together and functioning. We have seen that academic privilege is diminished when student involvement increases. The disillusionment and burnout of faculty that comes from entitled students is a dynamic we want to avoid. This dynamic also leads to faculty distancing themselves from a demanding student body, and we want to remember that our faculty are our comrades too, not Gods or limitless ATM’s of attention and information.
All of you donors, staff and volunteers who make POCA Tech possible are contributing precious time and money – you want to see that we are engaged participants seeking to enrich our communities and not just looking for a cheap education. We appreciate that you expect so much of us.
We are grateful to be trusted to manage such a big undertaking and we take it seriously and are committed to seeing it thrive. Due to our work in Student Circle we are benefiting from our awesome DIY, organizing-based, version of practitioner cultivation, and we can’t wait to take our punkling skills out into the world.
In Love and Solidarity,
Sonya & Shelby