Janette Chien


I see you. I am with you.

These words took shape during my first experience with SEED, and they have ultimately transformed the way I experience and move in the world.

I am a first-generation Chinese American woman, born in New Orleans and raised in Hong Kong. My parents worked incredibly hard to make sure my brother and I had access to opportunities that were unavailable to them. They intentionally gave us “American” names, spoke to my brother in English only, and encouraged us to assimilate to Western culture, even though this process distanced ourselves from our rich heritage. Since I was young, I struggled with feelings that I would never quite belong anywhere, that the idea of a community could never look like me, feel like me, or love like me. At the heart of the immigrant experience for me, is feeling like you've lost your stories, your histories, and the stories of your ancestors. And over time that loss accumulates and we become like shadows of our full authentic selves.

SEED changed this for me. SEED taught me about Windows and Mirrors, and how I can use them as a means to reflect upon the world around me, to connect with others in authentic ways, and to find moments of learning and validation that affirm our shared humanity--I use this practice daily in my work. SEED challenges and affirms me. SEED teaches me how to be quiet, and how silence is powerful. SEED reframes how I perceive power: to reflect on how it is distributed, who yields it, and how that power is used. SEED has helped me reevaluate who I consider to be the carriers of knowledge and authorities of experience. SEED has allowed me to trust and honor my own knowledge and experiences. SEED has taught me how to connect and be present for others, and to understand moments when I need to challenge, and moments when I need to listen.

Currently I practice SEED with students at University of Pennsylvania in my role as an Associate Director at the Civic House--one of the campus hubs for social justice education and community engagement. I also lead SEED seminars with cohorts of AmeriCorp VISTAs and regional campus leaders through a partnership with PHENND (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development). I am honored to join SEED staff and feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for all the folks who encouraged me, guided me, and challenged me along this SEED journey. Thank you for seeing me, and being with me.

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