KAMP’s educational programming is made up of three main formats:

At its heart, KAMP is an educational program, but KAMP participants do not refer to themselves as “teachers,” but rather as “mentors.” In this way, KAMP challenges the traditional understanding of teaching as well as mentorship.

Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.

–Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

As Paulo Freire discusses in his studies on pedagogy, empowerment, and social change, classrooms are traditionally organized according to a hierarchy in which the teacher is an authoritative figure depositing knowledge into the minds of passive students. Freire argues that in order for students to become critical thinkers and transformative members of society, this hierarchy between student and teacher must be broken down. KAMP’s teaching philosophy and method thus is grounded in the fundamental belief in equality, cooperation, and dialogue.

We call ourselves “mentors” (or ate, big sister; or kuya, big brother; or kapa, short for the gender-neutral kapatid, which means sibling) because we fundamentally see ourselves as building knowledge with students, rather than simply imparting information. We do not see ourselves as superior in expertise to our students. Many of us come from different educational backgrounds, but all our united by the pursuit of learning and understanding of Filipino American culture specifically and ethnic identity generally. KAMP mentors go to classrooms and create educational spaces in the community in order not only to share what we know but to learn what the students know, what their own personal life experiences have shown them about their own world, and how we can help each other understand our positions and responsibilities in society.

Because this is KAMP’s philosophy in and outside the classroom, our primary method of engaging our students and audiences is dialogue. At its core, dialogue is premised on mutual respect and cooperation. It is the open process of question and response in which neither participant knows for certain the answer, but together each contributes to a new understanding that would not have been possible without each party’s involvement and willingness to explore possibilities suggested by the questions. Because of this prerequisite of mutual respect, Freire insists that a key component of true dialogue is love: “If I do not love the world – if I do not love life – if I do not love people – I cannot enter into true dialogue.” Therefore, we refer to ourselves as mentors or ate/kuya/kapa rather than teachers because we are there to create knowledge, cultivate thinking skills, and turn the classroom into a space of critical love and social transformation.