Intern Erica Goldstein sat down with one of our 2021 SPOKE Awards Honorees, Cuong Hoang, to discuss his involvement with MW Productions/SPOKE and what receiving this award means to him.
What does being honored by MW Productions/SPOKE mean to you?
I’ve known Medicine Wheel for years. I think it’s important to be recognized by members of your community, although also maybe a bit awkward for me (I’m a bit more private, I guess). MW Productions/SPOKE has personally been an important organization because of its work on World AIDS Day and my growing up in the midst of the AIDS crisis. There’s something important about honoring and memory and connection.
Can you tell me a bit about the impact that your history with SPOKE has had on you?
So, my first interaction with Medicine Wheel was with its World AIDS Day Programming. This was terribly important to me, as someone who grew up in the AIDS crisis in the 80s. I appreciate the ability to create community in a way that was very open … i.e. you could be in the room, but in a corner and not actually super actively engaged, but still in community. One of the things that Medicine Wheel does really well is this sense of collective honoring and remembering, that is at the same time both collective and individual/personal.
What about MW/Productions/SPOKE mission resonates with you?
I appreciate that MW Productions/SPOKE’s work focuses on healing. This is important, as we’re recognizing because of the pandemic so that we can truly engage with our communities, as I’ve mentioned a bit previously. For some people, the harm that needs healing is more apparent, maybe because of AIDS or substance abuse. But, I think this last year has made it clearer that there is a lot of collective harm in our communities that need healing.
What is the significance of receiving this honor in 2021?
We’re coming out of 2029, a big year. It feels very much like we’re just learning how to be in a community with each other, so this is an interesting moment to be honored and recognized. It’s like one of those first moments in spring when everyone can be outside together, seeing old friends, etc.