Community Notebook: Alumni to host 'family and culture' event in Palo Alto

Group working to sustain conversation around mental health, other topics

A group of Palo Alto alumni working to spur conversation around youth mental health in Palo Alto is hosting a community event focused on family dynamics and cultural identity on Sunday, July 17.

The Alumni Dialogue Initiative is part of the Wellbeing and Openness in the Palo Alto Community (WOPAC) group, which several alumni created in the wake of the community's most recent youth suicide cluster.

The group, which has about nine active volunteer-members, has held several community "dialogue" events in order to "open up, broaden and sustain conversation about mental health, wellbeing, and success," the group's Facebook page reads.

Gunn High School alumni also visited their alma mater over the course of the last school year to connect with and support current students during casual "tea time" talks organized through the alumni group. (The group hopes to launch the same effort at Palo Alto High School this coming school year.)

This weekend's event will focus on family and culture, exploring questions like "How does your family's cultural background shape your experiences in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities?" and "How can we acknowledge and respect cultural diversity within and outside our families?," according to an event description on Facebook.

Organizer Peying Lee, who graduated from Gunn in 2011, said the Alumni Dialogue Initiative is hoping to draw more voices into the conversation with this event, specifically from "minority communities, whether it be ethnicity or sexuality (or) religion."

The group has been purposeful in reaching out to groups and people who represent these communities and will have alumni, parents, and community members talk on a panel about "how their cultural identities have shaped their experiences within and outside of their families," according to the event description. The panelists include two Gunn High School alumni, one father-daughter duo from Palo Alto High School and Stanford Medicine psychiatrist Rona Hu, who is also the mother of an incoming Paly student.

The event will also explore family dynamics and communication between parents and teens, issues that have frequently come up in previous dialogue events, Lee said.

The panel will be followed by small-group conversations about these topics.

The organizers are currently looking for panelists and facilitators; anyone interested in either of those roles can fill out an application form.

The event will be held Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m., at the Mitchell Park Community Center's El Palo Alto Room, 3700 Middlefield Road. Translations of the event description are available on Facebook in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and French.

All are welcome to attend, even those who are not directly affiliated with Palo Alto. Refreshments will be provided. To RSVP, go to this form.


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Like this comment
Posted by Delynn Parker
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Hi There,
I wanted to leave a comment here as I am an alumni of Gunn high school (1985), grew up in Baron Park and still spend a lot of time in the area visiting friends & family, when I'm not in SF. Due to my connection to Palo Alto, my own personal struggles & the loss of too many friends & icons, I have become motivated to help raise awareness around suicide and it's prevention. I work as a school counselor in Walnut Creek, speak publicly on the issue and have just launched a campaign in the hopes of doing much more. I would love to attend or speak at any events and would really appreciate any donations or sharing of my campaign. I am also actively looking to interview folks, anynomously or not, who have struggled with suicidal tendencies to learn what really helps and to offer them recognition for their amazing strength & bravery to face another day!! Please join me at

6 people like this
Posted by Toxicity
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Toxicity is a registered user.

Will the subject of cultures that dissuade any feedback from teens be brought up? Or cultures that do not value higher education? What about cultures in which the parents are too busy and work long, long hours--leaving no time for communication with children because the kids are sleeping when they return home?

These and other somewhat toxic cultures need to be addressed just as much as the Tiger Parent culture does.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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