This convention was certainly one for the books! I first want to thank everyone who attended for their patience and understanding for all the shifts we had to make in less than a week. When we were asked to stand in solidarity with hospitality workers, it wasn’t a matter of if but how.
We were alerted and updated on what was happening on the ground through local JACL staff, chapter members and union organizers, and we made the informed decision to leave host hotel the DoubleTree knowing what we stood for and that we would find a way to continue on through the support of the Little Tokyo community.
And support we did find, through JANM, JACCC, Azay and individual community members. In less than 30 hours, we had secured two hotels, finalized locations for all our special events and workshops, determined transportation options to get people to Little Tokyo and had not thoroughly lost our minds (though the latter could be disputed!).
To put into perspective the convention in numbers, we had nearly 400 attendees between Wednesday and Saturday alone. Of those attendees, 203 participated in Ireicho at JANM. The first showing of “Defining Courage” on Sunday was sold out with a seated capacity of 880. We had 30+ virtual attendees watching our 89 speakers and performers throughout the week on Whova.
In addition to having two plenaries, we had 28 workshops and screened 21 films. What couldn’t be counted were the many reunions that were had and the new connections that were made. A JACL National Convention in Little Tokyo was clearly overdue, and my hope is that we did it justice.
The work it took to bring this convention to life came from an extraordinary team of staff, committee members and volunteers. Convention has always taken up a significant amount of time for staff, and this year, we put in a lot more hours to adjust to all of the last-minute changes.
The film series was largely due to Rob Buscher’s oversight; we appreciated all of the film suggestions we were given and wished that we could have found space to screen all of them.
I also want to highlight PSW Governor Ryan Yoshikawa and PSW Vice Governor Nancy Takayama for their tireless dedication to seeing convention through. They were the first people to mobilize when we had to drastically change convention and were the last people out when the final event was over.
Without the hard work of every single staff and volunteer, this convention would not have been able to pull all the events and programs off that we did.
Although we were able to successfully have convention in Little Tokyo, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet. Due to our canceled contract with the DoubleTree, we incurred fees that put the convention in the red.
Thanks to our community partners, the losses were not as significant as we feared, but any donations on your behalf would be greatly appreciated. You can donate through our website (https://jacl.org/donate) or contact us by email (email@example.com) if you have any questions about supporting us.
Thank you all again for joining us in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, and we hope to see you in 2024 in Philadelphia!
Cheyenne Cheng is the national youth and programs manager for JACL. She is based in the organization’s Washington, D.C., office.