Archive by Author

Empowering college students to empower youth!

21 Feb

As an ally placed at the City of San Jose, I’m learning how to navigate institutions and try to make change from within. Most of my day consists of me working at my cubicle and I often miss the face-to-face interactions with community.

That’s why one of my favorite aspects of the Public Allies program is Team Service Project. This year, Public Allies Silicon Valley/San Francisco received many great project submissions. My team, Team Synergy, had the opportunity to create and facilitate a training about Political Education for De Anza Community College students. The goal of the training was to give the students the knowledge and tools to be successful as mentors for high school youth.

Through the Power & Privilege Bead Activity, mentors had the opportunity to reflect on their own power and privilege and how they can consciously bring these aspects of themselves to youth mentorship.

The training was Team Synergy’s second training with De Anza! We still have around 3 more trainings to tackle in the remaining months. I’m excited to see the mentors grow through the trainings and the impact that they will have on their youth. But I’m also excited to see how Team Synergy will grow through collaboration with De Anza. For myself, I definitely learned a lot about my facilitation style and what aspects I want to improve on. My Team Service Project  has also taught me what it means to build the capacity of other leaders and to keep our movement(s) sustainable.

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Celebrating Unsung Heroes and Sheroes

5 Feb

Celebrating Unsung Heroes and Sheroes

Public Allies Silicon Valley San Francisco had the opportunity to attend the Fred Korematsu Day Celebration, organized by the Asian Law Caucus and The Korematsu Institute. The event honored unsung heroes and sheroes in the Asian Pacific Islander community.

January 30th is Fred Korematsu Day, a day in celebration and honor of Civil Rights hero Fred Korematsu. Korematsu was one of many Japanese Americans who resisted internment during WWII. He believed that the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans was wrong and a serious violation of civil rights. He brought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1983 the court overturned his conviction for evading internment. We celebrate Fred Korematsu for his life long dedication to civil rights and social justice. His legacy continues today with The Korematsu Institute, founded by his daughter, Karen. The Institute tells Korematsu’s story in K-12 classrooms across the country.

Korematsu’s story resonates with me because he didn’t resist internment with the intention of someday being called a hero. He was an everyday man who stood up for what he believed was right. As Public Allies, I think we’re all (s)heroes in our own ways and that everyone and anyone can lead.

Writing my Own Counter Narrative

25 Jan

Growing up, I thought that my family was an anomaly. I thought that it was strange that my parents were born and raised in Vietnam, yet my younger sister and I were taught Cantonese at an early age and fed traditional Chinese food. As a teenager, I chose to identify as second generation Chinese American, not really considering my family’s roots in Vietnam.

It wasn’t until I took an Asian American Studies class at UC Berkeley that I began to question my ethnic and racial identity. The class was taught by the first Cambodian woman in the United States to earn her PhD. She challenged me and 20 other 1st/1.5/2nd generation Southeast Asian American students to think critically about what the mainstream media had told us about the Vietnam War. In her class, I learned to deconstruct this mainstream narrative and create a new narrative that was more reflective of the experiences of my family and other refugee families.

My dad fled Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon in 1965. He was only a teenager then, just barely out of high school. He left behind his parents, my grandparents, and paid for his journey out of the country with the family’s life savings. He was a “boat refugee” because he, like so many others, fled the country by boat. These boats were not the steam ships that immigrants from Western Europe arrived to America in. They were small fishing boats that were often attacked by pirates or torn apart at sea. My dad made it to a Malaysian refugee camp where he waited to be granted asylum. He was able to come to the United States and eventually start a life with my mom.

I tell my dad’s story because I recognize that although my family is Chinese, we have ties to Vietnam that cannot be ignored. My family’s story is part of a larger, collective refugee experience that is unique to the Southeast Asian American community. This understanding has shaped my consciousness as an Asian American woman. Today, I think critically about America’s policy decisions, particularly in regards to immigration and foreign policy. Although America granted my family asylum, this nation also played a role in civil wars and deaths in Southeast Asia after the Fall of Saigon.  My family’s story continues to sit with me as I think about how policies have real impact on communities.

For me, my family’s struggles and triumphs have brought me to Public Allies. In this journey, I hope to gain the skills and tools to one day be an effective policy maker. I hope to share more of my story with you and learn yours as well.

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What does opportunity mean to me?

21 Dec

What does opportunity mean to me?

For me, opportunity means all of the above. But most of all, it means being in service with my PA Silicon Valley San Francisco ally class!