Community Summer Fellowships 2023
I am currently studying abroad in Vietnam, reflecting on what I was looking for out of this summer experience, and asking the exact same question about coming here. If I had to summarize my thought process accepting a spot as a Seeding Change Fellow I would say that I wanted to find my community, to understand what Asian American community organizing looks like, and build a network of like minded students. Seeding Change is an organization designed to foster young Asian American community leaders dedicated to building power within working-class Asian immigrant and refugee communities by pairing each fellow with a host site located across the country. Beyond the placement, Seeding Change facilitates opening and closing retreats in the Bay Area and weekly community calls to discuss our placements and experiences in the organizing field.
It was perhaps, an unusual thing to witness. The room, demarcated by a grey sofa, was home to a cluttered children’s play area to the right and about a dozen sewing machines to the left. The play area flaunted a mini rocking horse, some dolls and coloring books, and a great abundance of the peculiar crowd favorite: small plastic eggs. Every Friday morning and afternoon women would file in and take their place at one of the folding tables on the left side of
the room. They would sit alone and focused, next to their friends gossiping, or beside one of their children- a few years too cool for the play station. And for 2 or so hours, in this strange place thousands of miles from their homelands, they would learn to sew.
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at KAN-WIN, an organization based in Park Ridge, Illinois that works to eradicate gender-based violence in the Asian American community and beyond. When considering what I wanted to do with my final college summer, KAN-WIN stood out with how they both serve individuals and families and push for broader systemic reform.
Community Summer Fellowships 2022
When I arrived in Evanston, 18-years-old, Massachusetts-raised and ready to kick off my college career, one of my first thoughts was — “where are all the Asians?”
Evanston is about 10% Asian, the 2020 U.S. Census reports. And while Boba Tea joints hold a vice grip on Downtown Evanston, I didn’t feel like there was much of an Asian “community” in the city. But, that might’ve been from a lack of listening. This summer, I tried to listen to those who have been here. Those who found this mid-sized midwestern city, and made it a home.
On Friday, June 24, 2022, after almost a month of anxious waiting, I received an email announcing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion. With the devastating news, it was all hands on deck at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), a national organization that focuses on expanding access to reproductive health and rights and fighting disparities that affect immigrant and low-income communities of color with a focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls.
Right now, as I sit here typing this final draft, I want to note that I’ve already spent countless drafts trying to type this out, only to hit walls of un-generativity. Not because anything major happened: the internship in itself, I think, was ultimately just a disappointment, on many parts. I have decided to use this reflection space to offer you my honesty and my full deconstruction of my experience, external and internal. As someone invested in dismantling Model Minority during this internship (and always), it would be disingenuous to not vignette the places where this theme showed up the most this summer: in my personal, embarrassing entanglements with it and my distangling efforts.
Community Summer Fellowships 2021
This past summer, as a rising junior, I worked with Axis Lab’s mutual aid project called “Boost the Block” while also doing my own research. For Axis Lab’s mutual aid project, I was able to help coordinate weekly volunteers, and design graphics to advertise the event and gather volunteers. It was meaningful to be part of such a positive event.
Despite Northwestern’s proximity to Chicago, by the time I reached my junior year, I was still embarrassingly unfamiliar with the city. It was really a shame, as those were years I could have spent exploring one of the largest cities in the US, learning about its issues and lively idiosyncrasies, and building relationships within its vibrant communities. This past summer, though, I realized it wasn’t too late to start doing those things, as I was able to work with Axis Lab through the generous Community Summer Fellowship.
Community Summer Fellowships 2020
Organizing is a marathon, not a sprint.
I’ve heard this phrase over and over again during my time as an organizer. It is frequently accompanied by warnings of not burning out, or encouragement to stand my ground and push on after being deterred. Pace yourself. Keep going. Don’t look back. Focus on the finish line.
From July through August 2020, I had the privilege of interning with the Chicago chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. NAPAWF is the only national organization building power with Asian/American and Pacific Islander women, girls, and nonbinary people for reproductive justice. NAPAWF is a multi-issue organization whose work lies at the intersections of racial justice, economic justice, and immigrant justice.
Community Summer Fellowships 2019
Each day was a different and unique experience; sometimes I’d be in the office working quietly at a desk, sometimes we’d traverse the city doing workshops and outreach across different neighborhoods in Chicago, and some days we’d even be organizing and running rallies in downtown!
This summer I had the pleasure of being an intern at Stir-Friday Night, the longest running Asian American comedy troupe in the Midwest. I don’t want to do stand-up for its own sake - my goal is to engage Asian Americans through stand-up.
Community Summer Fellowships 2018
Our thunderous chants reverberated around the halls of the U.S. Senate office building. “JUSTICE IS,” we cried, “NOT KAVANAUGH.” A swarm of Capital Police cops blocked our path and threatened to arrest us if we didn’t stop chanting.
The generous Asian American Community Fellowship allowed me to support Asian American communities through two internships in Chicago, including an organization I’d call a dream.
A Student Symposium on Race and Indigeneity in the Pacific: Moving Islands, Expanding Worlds
November 28, 2017
HANDS-ON LEARNING IN HAWAII: For 15 Northwestern undergraduates, an eight-day trip to Hawaii in September 2017 proved to be a memorable preparation for their class on “Race and Indigeneity in the Pacific” this fall. The course, taught by Nitasha Sharma, director of the University’s Asian American Studies Program, along with postdoctoral fellow Hi’ilei Julia Hobart, immersed the students in the experience of indigeneity. During the Sept. 10-18 trip, students paired a hands-on exploration of Hawaiian culture with face-to-face discussions with local academics, activists and cultural practitioners.
The unique course concluded in November 2017 with a student-led, student-directed research symposium in which students presented final projects examining a range of indigenous topics such as food sovereignty, women’s activism and decolonizing education.