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Annual Gala 2017: An Excerpt from Charlene Jin Lee’s Talk

January 5, 2018

“My experience of ISAAC is this space for mutual inquiry, formal and informal conversations about belonging among people who traverse in existential and concrete experiences of embrace and exclusion, among people whose identity as Asian and North
American and Christian present complexities of allegiances, privileges, wisdoms, limitations, and pains. ISAAC for me, personally and in my observations, has been a space for exploring our roots: Cultural roots—sometimes nourishing and life-giving, sometimes rotted; religious roots—sometimes nourishing and life-giving, sometime rotted.

The space to see, lift up, observe, understand, negotiate, discuss, and debate—
both with rigor, grace, and sometimes humor—the messy and tangled roots of our cultural and faith identities together is the gift that ISAAC offers.

Deep roots grant stability. Stability to withstand the gusty winds of indifference, injustice, deafened ears, ugly shouts, pointed fingers. Roots, however, are essential for movement forward towards the future, for it provides a steady footing that grants courage to venture into unknown territories. To move into uncomfortable spaces, ask hard questions, listen to hard answers, to encounter heretical ideas, and to dream radical, unspeakable hopes. Digging into one’s roots, I’ve found, actually propels a kind of strange freedom.”

Charlene Jin Lee
9 December 2017