In recognition of his professional and academic achievements, George Emilio Sanchez, Chair of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts at the College of Staten Island, recently delivered a speech on Convocation Day at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. The annual event welcomes incoming freshmen to the campus.
In his address, Sanchez, a critically acclaimed performance artist, writer, and educator, underscored the theme of Convocation, “Believe in Yourself.” Recalling how he failed to deliver a speech in a General Education class as an undergrad due to fear, he urged the members of his audience to not only go forth with self-confidence, but also to realize that they become who they are thanks to others who also believe in them, noting the contributions that his parents and a philosophy teacher had made to his own life.
In addition, he encouraged the new students to use their potential to help others. “I have heard it said that our collective destiny is to become more fully human. But if we follow this lead, it becomes vastly clear that one does not become more fully human alone. This is why I love to be in a classroom because it provides us with the concrete image of reality of how we have to, and need to, learn together. Learn from each other, teach one another, where what we strive for is shared with others, among others, where there is give and take and if one is willing to give one is equipped to take,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez also stressed the invaluable gift of education and art. “It was through education and art [that] I stumbled upon the light of the day and [it] gave me the assurance that the darkness was no longer something to fear but rather another resource to complement my solitude and my desire to live and work with others. It is education that taught me how to ask questions and it was my art that guided me into living with the questions.”
In his concluding remarks, Sanchez urged the freshmen “to garner the courage…to never fear entering the classroom as I once did. I urge you to take multiple risks and veer a little from your comfort zones. I urge you to delve a little deeper into the fray, and to never doubt your doubts. Just don’t keep them to yourself. We’re all in this together and anything short of that denies us all the possibility to become more fully you and me.”
Among Sanchez’s areas of expertise are the methods that are connected to Augusto Boal’s “Theater of the Oppressed,” and how the arts can be employed to advance education in all subjects. The New York Times once called him, “extremely funny but also poignant…fearless and incredibly precise…what timing is all about…”