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Compassion in Action Student Spotlight: Ysrael

What would it look like to serve young people, those at the forefront of changing the world while also embarking on a journey of waking up?
To answer this question and support the next generation of change-makers, we launched the Compassion in Action Fellowship— a yearlong inner & outer change journey that helps undergraduate students learn meditation practice, build community, and engage in meaningful social change.

We are now in the second semester of this program. We are joined by 14 students leading campus and community-based chapters that host weekly or bi-weekly learning circles, social events, team meetings, and opportunities to help create a more just, compassionate, and connected world.
You can read all about the program HERE. Over the coming weeks and months we will feature the students who are the heart of Compassion in Action.
With deep gratitude and awe, we introduce you to Ysrael!

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ysrael (He/Siya). I enjoy playing music, reading + writing, and spending time with loved ones. I am based in Alameda, CA—Chochenyo Muwekma Ohlone land.
I am also a fourth-year transfer student at UC Berkeley.I am born to a strong independent Filipina immigrant educator mother and an inspiring multi-talented Filipino Methodist preacher father.

What’s your major and why did you chose it?
Major: Political Science
Minor: Public Policy

Being born and raised in the Philippines and having moved to the Bay Area at age 17 have led me to deeply appreciate and take pride in being a 1.75 Filipino-American immigrant.

It is in the US where my social justice awakening happened. Upon learning the legacies of his people, the Third World Liberation front, the League of Democratic Filipinos, and many people’s movements – I was compelled to learn about relationships, power-building, and peace-building — all for the liberation of the last and the least.

Hence why, Political Science – it is about the dynamism in relationships amongst players that shape power and decision-making. And Public Policy – how power can be shaped and decision-making can be influenced.

What drew you to the CiA Fellowship?
Recognizing the need to heal and expand compassion within myself beyond myself, I tried out for the CiA fellowship. 

As I realized in December of 2021, the world needs kinder and more compassionate – people; we have enough smart people. The first step in changing the world, in building peace and power, is changing one’s heart: expanding one’s capacity to be compassionate.

What are your goals for the semester?
I hope to find the timing and alignment with opportunities that help me center fun, joy, meaning, and results. 
I hope to find the balance between being a planner and an ‘unfolder’.*
*unfolder: someone who allows things to unfold or present themselves naturally and be flexible enough to adapt.

What’s been happening in your chapter?
We have been centering relationship-building and finding ways to tie in practices that Lama Tsomo and Namchak are imparting with us. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has truly shaken us at our core and we continue to hold space for the things – good, bad, and anything in-between – that might emerge in our chapter members’ lives.

What types of meditations are currently resonating with you and why? 
Tonglen is one of my favorites. Expanding compassion from within and visualizing its expansion to those who I love (and those who, at times, are hard for me to love) continues to anchor me.

What social causes do you feel passionate about and why? 
I am passionate about working towards bringing movement hashtags—like #BlackLivesMatter #StopAsianHate #MeToo ##EnoughIsEnough, and more—manifest into concrete change that improves the material conditions of marginalized communities. 

I aspire to be a force that reshapes funding streams towards the communities farthest away from decision-making tables and closest to issue areas by doing cross-sector work with movement-building organizations, philanthropic institutions, schools, and governments—centering the needs of youth, communities of color, immigrants, and survivors of state-based violence.

If you could invite anyone to dinner alive or deceased who would that be? 
This is a tough one!
I’m torn between Bell Hooks, Desmond Tutu, Jesus, Buddha, and Martin Luther King Jr. All of them have embodied Compassion in Action through their lifetime!
Ask me again and I might know the answer by that time!

What does a more compassionate world look like to you? 

    A world with:

  • people connected to the power and purpose within them, whilst being grounded in community
  • 4-day work days, 3-day weekends
  • free education
  • no borders, more bridges

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra? 
“You can be the complete package and be at the wrong address.” ~anon.

Lots of things in life, as I realized, are about timing and alignment. It is important to honor when attractions and repulsions naturally shift our lives. Friends moving around, leaving situations/people behind, receiving acceptance/rejection letters. 
Simple but not easy.
I continue to be grounded in knowing that all of it is training for us to be more compassionate towards ourselves and the world.

How can people join your chapter?
Follow us on Instagram: @namchak_berkeley
Email us here: [email protected]