"The world does not turn without moments of grace.
Who cares how small."
Activism and social justice are at the core of any true artist or educator. It is our great privilege and responsibility to establish and foster a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world through communication, curriculum and acts of service.
Maria Paz Alegre - Pictured with students from the Dalton School Human Rights Club. Keynote speakers for KivaNYC with PayPal CEO Dan Shulman and President Bill Clinton. Photo by Getty Images
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
Presentations & Speeches
NAIS (National Association of Public Schools):
PoCC (People of Color Conference) Affinity Group Presenter:
Since 2017 I have had the honor of working for NAIS as a facilitator of the Asian American and Pacific Island Affinity group. Over the course of several months, I work closely with a small team AAPI educators from around the country to create and curate a three day program which aims to enrich and engage AAPI attendees. To date, we have helped create and present programs to over 2000 AAPI educators.
Kiva NYC Trustee and Keynote Speaker:
I have long been involved with Kiva - an international micro-finance organization that raises funds to loan to small businesses in developing countries at a zero interest rate. The CEO of Kiva, Premal Shah heard about me bringing Kiva to my schools and asked me to be a Keynote speaker during the NYC Kiva launch, alongside PayPal CEO Dan Shulman and President Bill Clinton. I insisted my students come with me, and together we spoke about the power of giving back to your community and your world. Later, I was invited to become a trustee of Kiva and to date the contributions of myself and my students have helped over 150 people in 29 different countries.
FADE: Filipina American Decolonization Experience Freedom: A Journey of Power, Actualization, and Solidarity
Since 2019, I have had the privilege of teaming up with several other Filipina American educator colleagues from around the country. Together, we have created our own national affinity group and have presented as a team at PoCC three times and opened the 2022 AsEA Conference for Asian Educators. We focus on decolonizing colonial narratives to tell our stories and to encourage other critical narratives.
Indian Mountain School: APISA Keynote Speaker
I presented to the Middle and Upper School students at the Indian Mountain School on May 4, 2021 to begin celebrations for Asian, Pacific Island , South Asian Heritage Month. "To highlight the many contributions of the APISA people in American society, Ms. Alegre walked the group through the long history of Asians in America, demonstrating their perseverance and resilience through many challenges and much vilification. She also pointed out that the history of the APISA people in America is barely touched on in school lessons, and she hopes this will change. One of the key reasons for her talk was to address the rise in attacks on APISA individuals across America since the pandemic, emphasizing that words have power. Many hate crimes can be attributed to COVID being described as the Chinese virus, the China plague or the Kung Flu.
As a gesture to the struggling Asian restaurants because of these stereotypes, Ms. Alegre donated her speaking fee to the Welcome to Chinatown Sik Faan Fund, which supports struggling Chinatown eateries in New York City, delivering the meals they make to low income, senior residents, food insecure neighbors and essential workers. Upon learning this, her donation was immediately matched by the Indian Mountain School.
In the summer of 2017, I was approached by playwright Ray Yamanouchi. Ray was impressed by my work on stage, as well as my theatre criticism for Theatre Is Easy. While Ray and I were both thrilled to see more and more theatre featuring diverse artists, we also expressed frustration and helplessness with the lack of diverse theatre critics of color. We had both witnessed countless criticisms that were out of touch, ignorant, or simply racist. He proposed we take action to rectify this issue, and thus re: (pronounced "regarding" ) was born. We pride ourselves on being two POC recommending the most lit theatre in NYC. Broadway already has its fanbase so we stick to theatre that you might not have heard of, but are definitely worth watching.
Chinatown NYC Historical Walking Tour for Schools:
The best way to learn about any city is to walk through it! After learning about a need for student-friendly tours through historic ethnic neighborhoods in New York, I created my own walking tour through Chinatown - my beloved home neighborhood. To date, I have toured dozens of classes and families from schools like the Dalton School in NYC and the Andover School from MA. Students learn the history behind street names, landmarks, businesses and buildings throughout the neighborhood leaving with the most important message of all - Asian American's have not been in this country for decades, but for centuries! They are (and have always been) an important and vital part of the beautifully diverse fabric of New York City.