The Real Me…
All too often we hide behind our professional masks afraid to show the real me. The “me” that’s just one side of the professional me. It’s as though we can’t really be ourselves. When I turned 55 in 2017, I realized even more strongly how important it is to not hide behind my professional mask. I’m learning to connect that mask with my true identity, the Joanna who loves to live, love, and laugh. Besides my prestigious degrees and well-educated life, I’ve been even more fortunate to experience other cultures through food, language, clothes, and traditions. I’ve also been fortunate to have many jobs and have met many wonderful people who helped me grow. I’ve learned to bloom where I am planted so that no matter where I lived and worked, I was able to thrive and blossom. I’m grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had.
My greatest achievements in life are as a mother, community activist, and educator. I’ve been blessed with two amazing children: Jonathan and Faith. From them, I’ve learned the importance of patience and the value of unconditional love. I’ve learned to enjoy life and focus on the present. We’ve shared many good times together and made many good memories.
My work as a community activist includes community organizing at multiple levels of society, but it’s my work with Indigenous community residents that brings me the greatest joy. Unfortunately, western society has created a class-based system that marginalizes and silences the voice of those most in need, the truly disadvantaged. This has to change and since I’ve been working since I was fourteen, I’ve learned that even the smallest sign of progress is huge. When people feel empowered and begin to create the changes we need, we have the kind of synergy that will lead to transformation.
As an educator, I rely heavily on the work of Paulo Friere who understood the importance and power of treating people like they matter. Education is not a process of memorizing facts and figures. Instead, it’s a way for us to use one of our greatest gifts: our intellect. We must learn to think critically and always be prepared to ask the question “why?” which brings me full circle to The Real Me. I like to have the kind of conversations that require a shift in thinking. The Real Me does more than talk about the problems; I want to be part of the solution.