We had the good fortune of connecting with Edward Pohlert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Edward, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m a multiracial male born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. My father was Indonesian and survived the Japanese camps in Malang, Indonesia. My mother is Dutch and lived the Anne Frank story but survived. We immigrated to the U.S. in 1966 when I was 8 years old. We came to live in Los Angeles and I grew up there for 30+ years in a Latinx community. I also identify as Chicano as a political identity that formed my youth until present day. My parents divorced in 1971 and we became aware of a low-income life. I ran the streets of Los Angeles as I searched for economic stability and identity. I attended Los Angeles community college as a first generation college student because it was free due to financial aid and they accepted me with a HS diploma. My peer group friendships were a mosaic of ethnic resilience and beauty. I thrived in a multicultural environment speaking Spanish, English, and Dutch. I was shy but nice and got along with many people. I was impacted by race, class, and gender deprivation as I sought a sense of belonging in a sprawling metropolis. I have lived in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Diego and understand the dynamics of urban life. I’ve learned to be resilient through conflict and many obstacles living as an immigrant in the U.S. I’m now a cultural psychologist with a 41 year career in higher education helping first generation college students like myself attain excellence and success. I thrive in listening to people’s narratives and have completed my own multiethnic autoethnography utilizing poetry, storytelling, and video presentation. My Cultural Film Productions documents stories of resilience that illuminate diverse peoples’ lives. Specifically, brief documentaries provide an audience a snapshot of common folks surviving in a complex world. I want to continue to document the wisdom of our elders, the hope of our youth, and the activist work necessary to make institutional change for our society’s common good.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always been a creative soul. As an educator, the highest compliment was when a colleague told me that how I do my work is like an artist painting an evolving picture. It validated my ethos in how I approach life. I’ve become a cultural psychologist but turned that education into being a cultural facilitator. I do this through film making and documenting peoples’ life stories. I’m proud that I’ve stayed true to my ethnic roots and ancestral spirit. I’m a college drop-out and now hold degrees (AA, BSW, MS, PsyD) I’d never imagine completing. I wasn’t supposed to be in college and followed my intuition as opportunities presented themselves. This educational journey was completed with a narrative project about my multiethnic identity. It started back at LACC when I met Cesar Chavez, Maya Angelou, and Tom Hayden as they came to speak on the college campus. These out of classroom experiences widened my lens on how learning outside of the classroom matters. It is the canvas of life and living. Information and perspective comes from people. The collective differences in our society should be valued and respected.
With mentors providing emotional and practical support, I learned to persevere and negotiate the world around me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, I’d take a drive down PCH 101 starting in Oceanside and winding our way down to San Diego. The ocean grounds us all as we listen, touch, smell, and feel the coastal magic. San Diego hikes are infamous for the natural beauty: Elfin Forest, Cuyamaca, Torrey Pines, and many more. We also are fortunate to live in a binational region with multilingual languages; traveling to Rosarito, Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada, and Tecate covers coastal and inland Baja that is reachable in 2 hours. The neighborhoods in San Diego provide culinary and cultural experiences that span the world. Chicano Park, Linda Vista-Convoy, Imperial Beach, Normal Heights/North Park, Paradise HiIlls, Hillcrest are just some of the areas to visit and immerse oneself in the cultural fabric of the people and how we move from day to day. The culinary scene is vast and always changing: my staples are Banh Thai, Tacos El Gordo, Extraordinary Desserts, Felix Barbeque, RakiRaki, and Mariposa Ice Cream. Go-to institutions like the San Diego Zoo, Julian, and Sunset Cliffs are also nice. There’s numerous musical and art offerings via street fairs, small clubs, and concerts all over the county. I belong to Keys Creek Winery as they’re located on a dead-end road in Escondido. Wines are excellent and music is featured from local artists. That’s a lot from a Los Angeles homie.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The grandmothers on both sides of my family have provided a foundation of resilience, empathy, love, and respect. My college students have impacted my mind to be more open and my heart to receive love from people I do not know. Higher education provides an environmental context for striving to be a lifelong learner. However, the knowledge and empathy I’ve learned from strangers in many parts of the world, nation, and local community inspires me everyday to search for stories that inspire, motivate, and empower all of us to aim high towards our collective goals.
CulturalFilmProductions YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/