On Saturday, March 1st, I attended Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing’s (PARCEO) Symposium. The theme for the event was: Sharing Principles and Practices of PAR. As a community-based, non-profit organization PARCEO brought together a collective of empowered community groups and advocates to discuss how they are currently infusing PAR into their work and to network amongst each other.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a research and learning method that empowers community members to take collective action to address their concerns and recognize their own expertise. (I will write a separate post on PAR soon.)
The full-day event was held at El Museo del Barrio. The symposium was in the youth activities and educational space of El Museo, which definitely helped to set the tone for the learning, sharing, and reflecting that took place in all the sessions.
For me the day served as an informal conversation about what community engagement and advocacy looks like from the perspective of parents, teachers, and students. The underlining thread of all the groups in attendance was education. I would venture to say it was educational justice and the roles of key (students, teachers, parents) stakeholders in education.
I attended sessions on community organizing challenges, the partnership between parents and teachers in a child’s education, and youth-led organizing. Each session was led by a specific community group(s) and a discussion on their work with PAR in the local community. Throughout the day I was constantly reflecting on the discussions and furiously writing down my lingering questions.
I love to learn from others and to hear about their direct experience on a subject, so the symposium was my classroom for the day! By the end of the day I was feeling reinvigorated and inspired. Overall, it was a great event and I look forward to the next PARCEO symposium.
Here’s what I do know: community collaboration is essential and necessary for community empowerment and transformation.