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Meet the Empowering Asian/Asian American Communities Fellows

2019

Joseph Chao '21

Fellowship Site: Lu Mien Community Services

Primary Location: Sacramento, CA

Over the summer, I worked  for my host organization lu Mien Community Services. I helped with daily office work, filling of community members that came in during walk-in hours, fundraising, working with the youth program, and working with the elderly program. 

One project that I worked on was the annual fireworks booth fundraiser that IMCS puts up every year. I was crucial in the setting up, taking down, and selling of all the products in the booth and worked to keep it running smoothly. I did a lot of the packing up which required a lot of labor. Another project I worked on was being on the brainstorming session for the annual IMCS high school student conference. I kept the minutes of the meeting and facilitated discussion / talked about the climate of high-schoolers. 

The most significant contributions I made to my host organization, I believe, was presence. The office is sort of small and somewhat understaffed- me being there to take up whatever they needed me to do I think made things go a little bit faster. Another significant contribution I made I think was with the senior program- not many younger individuals take the time to speak to the elderly or interact with them at all, so I think I made an impact with the elderly.


2019

Ethan Chua '20

Fellowship Site: Filipino Community Center

Primary Location: San Francisco, CA

I was an intern at the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco, a non-profit dedicated to providing direct services in the areas of migration, workers' rights, and youth education to the Filipino community of San Francisco and the US more broadly. As an intern, I provided interpretation and legal services to clients seeking assistance with immigration concerns; assisted in organizing protests against human rights abuses occurring in the Philippines; updated know your rights materials for the Center's workers' rights program; and designed a teach-in on housing inequality for Stanford workers.


As part of the Filipino Community Center's workers' rights program, I researched labor laws at both the city and state level, compiled relevant laws into an infographic and brochure, and worked with one of my fellow interns to design and print the infographic and brochure for distribution at a local church. This project wouldn't have gotten done without my involvement. Given my proficiency in Tagalog, I also did interpretation work at the FCC's front desk and assisted in providing direct services to clients; one of my main commitments was providing legal and interpretation support to an undocumented client who had received a notice to appear from Customs and Border Protection. In addition, I assisted in phone banking, prop making, security, and planning for a protest outside the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco calling for an end to human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.


2019

JJ Kapur '22

Fellowship Site: Sikh Coalition

Primary Location: New York, NY

During the summer of 2019, I left the quiet suburbs of Iowa and spent three months working in the bustling city of New York. Supported by an Empowering Asian Americans Cardinal Quarter fellowship from Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, I worked at the Sikh Coalition—the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization—creating films of Sikhs across the nation involved in seva (community service) as a way to combat negative stereotypes about the Sikh community.

Des Moines was like that bar in the show “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name.” New York was...less cozy. Because I was living with a host-family upstate, I had a daily one-hour commute via New York’s famous (or infamous) subway system to lower Manhattan. Every morning, I would feel anxious as I squeezed my way into a packed subway at Grand Central Station. Most mornings, I would be so nervous to ask people to sit next to them that I would just stand the entire way. So even though—or perhaps precisely because—I was surrounded by so many people, I felt a profound sense of loneliness and anonymity.

            I eventually learned to manage and integrate these elements of life in New York. I recharged by building a regular sleep cycle and incorporating mindfulness strategies on the subway such as listening to podcasts, deep breathing, and meditation.I also started to plan weekly dinners with my fellow interns and join my host-family for outings during the weekend like devouring dumplings in Flushing Chinatown with their two adorable kids. By the end of my summer, I no longer felt any of the loneliness, exhaustion, or anxiety that marked my first few weeks in New York. Instead, I found that approaching new experiences with intentionality helped me understand that a city so different from Des Moines can also be my home.

  


2019

Huanvy Phan '20

Fellowship Site: API Equality - Northern California (APIENC)

Primary Location: San Francisco, CA

APIENC is a grassroots organization that builds queer and transgender API power through leadership development, community building, intergenerational work, and more. This summer, I participated in APIENC’s Summer Organizer Program with five other young emerging leaders where we got to learn the tools to create change and build the world we want to see. Together, we participated in leadership development retreats, marched with over 300 people in the API contingent of SF Trans March, and coordinated a grassroots fundraiser that raised over $11,000. My personal project was to build a team of community members to collectively formulate a long-term data analysis strategy for the largest ever Bay Area Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming API Needs Assessment.

APIENC has given me a political home where I feel held and loved in all my identities – I never have to hide or sacrifice a part of myself to feel like I belong. I learned so many organizing and life skills, from coordinating a community security team to making strong asks for help. Beyond that, I built strong relationships with new people who have become my best friends, spent a lot of time cooking and singing karaoke, and even got matching tattoos with my cohort. After the summer, I joined APIENC Core where we use community values to make organizational decisions and guide the direction of APIENC’s work.

We live in a society of scarcity that tells us that there’s limited people, time, resources, and capacity. But APIENC has shown me so much abundance and I now know that there is enough and WE are enough. We have all that we need to create sustainable social change and build a world where we can be free.

 

 


2018

Christian Escalante '19

Fellowship Site: Filipino Community Center

Primary Location: San Francisco, CA

Christian worked for the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco, CA, an organization which provides services for the Filipino community in the Bay Area around immigration, employment search, and workers’ rights. She was able to work with community members one-on-one on their individual needs, as well as learn new strategies to serve the community from other service organizations in the Bay Area. Additionally, she gained a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the Filipino community in the Bay Area and the potential solutions to it. 


2018

Lyndie Ho '20

Fellowship Site: California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative Project

Primary Location: San Jose, CA

Going into this summer, I knew that I wanted to combine my interest in public health with my cultural background. I had the incredible fortune to stumble upon the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative project of Asian Health Services. The Collaborative strives to create a healthier and more just working environment for nail salon workers, who are predominantly Vietnamese, immigrant, and lower-income. I worked with an exceptional team combining expertise in public health, labor rights, and environmental safety. I got to see the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, interact directly with workers, and advocate for policy change at the California state capital.

 
Being part of an institution like Asian Health Services with such a powerful legacy was also instrumental to my growth. I learned so much about the history of Asians in the Bay Area and the importance of grassroots work in our communities. Places like Asian Health Services are necessary not only to provide for our communities but also to be a voice to power, to advocate for us on the local, state, and federal level. Though I’m still unsure on what exactly what I want to do in the future, my summer experience instilled in me a fundamental need to give back to the communities that have made my success possible. I am so grateful to the A3C and Asian Health Services for allowing me to be a part of such important work.
 

2018

On the left, Hope G. Yi '18 (they/them)

Fellowship Site: Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

Primary Location: San Francisco, CA

 

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. The organization is most prominent for CAAMFest, the world’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food, and music programs, at which I began my CAAM journey as a volunteer in May. Little did I know that I would spend this summer not only working with the very people whose tireless efforts make CAAMFest and other watershed moments in API representation possible but also finding community with some of the coolest folks--from artists, activists, organizers, and scholars to bowtie-makers, fellow queers, Burners, karaoke kweens, and even VEGANS--with whom I feel proud to say I share an API identity.

Having grown up very religious, I had been so used to the church being the sole source of Asian community in my life, and as a casualty of colonization, I had and have been harboring a great deal of internalized racism that I have been trying very hard to unlearn. At the onset of my fellowship, I was worried I wasn’t going to be “Asian enough” to work for an Asian-centered organization, but I was excited to learn from and grow with people who look like me and reclaim power in my API identity. Working at CAAM, I was not disappointed. Not only did I get to share space with awesome people who are collectively working towards a mission in which I wholeheartedly believe, but I also got to pick up a couple of valuable life and workplace skills along the way. During the first weeks of my fellowship, I had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the processes involved in nonprofit development, the coordination of CAAM’s fellowship program, and the meticulous process of digitizing and archiving raw film footage. As an intern, I also got to attend industry networking events and an API Council meeting, where community leaders advocated for more inclusive and accessible mental health resources and practices.

In the last couple weeks of my fellowship, I was lucky enough to work as a production assistant for a CAAM-produced film--directed by Wayne Wang (of “The Joy Luck Club” fame) and produced by Don Young, my first “9-to-5” boss of my dreams; written by Stanford’s very own Professor Chang-rae Lee; starring Justin Chon, Jackie Chung, John Lie, July Kim, Leesa Kim, and finger-licking delicacies by Benu’s Chef Corey Lee; and materialized by a motley crew of industry veterans, students, and burgeoning stars (although everyone was a rockstar in their own right!). I am so grateful for this organization that amplifies Asian voices and tells their narratives in a respectful, authentic, and empowering way and for all the people I met this summer who truly made me feel like I was part of the CAAMily.

Now that it’s been released, I can proudly say the title of the film out loud: “Coming Home Again” made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2019, and no surprise, Rotten Tomatoes seems to be a fan!

 
   

2017

Lina Khoeur '18

Fellowship Site: Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC)

Primary Location: Oakland, CA

This summer, I have had the privilege of working with Asian Prisoner Support Committee, currently the only organization in the nation that works to provide culturally competent support specifically for incarcerated API communities. Through APSC, I’ve been able to work with organizations on both local and state government, but the most important work I’ve been able to do is the class we facilitate in San Quentin State Prison: Restoring Our Original and True Selves (ROOTS). In ROOTS, we work with lifers on topics like acculturation, intergenerational trauma, and histories of colonization, specifically in relation to Southeast Asian identity. This work has been transformative, not only for them, but also for me - being able to talk with people who have spent years going through the same struggles that I am going through continues to provide more for both of us than we could have ever imagined. 

During our classes, and during my internship, I talked with and organized with so many people from so many different stages of the process. I got to grow with people who were just starting their organizing journey, collaborate with people who have been doing this work for decades, and share with people who are still dealing with the worst repercussions of an unjust institutionalized system. Being in this space both challenged and expanded my ideas of community and solidarity, and gave me the space to feel grounded in my own identity, privilege, and power. Organizing in these intersectional spaces continues to push my boundaries of understanding gender, ageism, culture, and many other identities, all compounded with the incarcerated state. Doing this work has allowed me to see how those labeled as “other” continue to resist, grow, and fight for change.

  



Vanuyen Pham '18

2017

Fellowship Site: Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Primary Location: Sacramento, CA

When I learned that the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC) was the only national civil rights organization devoted to empowering Southeast Asian American communities through advocacy and leadership development, I knew it would be an incredible opportunity for me to intern there, and it was everything I hoped for and more. SEARAC was the perfect place for me to grow more comfortable within my identity, to be in a space surrounded by fierce, empathetic leaders who were supportive mentors, and to understand the remarkable history of how Southeast Asian Americans have fought hard to carve a space for ourselves in this country and make our voices heard.

For once, I was in a space where I was innately understood, owing to our shared histories, experiences, and struggles. SEARAC is uniquely situated as an organization with deep ties to community partners, but is also a state and national leader in policy research and is oftentimes the only source of disaggregated data focusing specifically on Southeast Asian Americans. Here, I was able to better my explore my interests in direct community work as well as broader level policy advocacy, and to think more deeply about intersectionality both among issues that Southeast Asian Americans face, and also across other racial and ethnic groups. I was able to go into the community to interview Southeast Asian American youth on their sexual and reproductive health needs, but also had the chance to visit the California State Capitol on legislative visits and learn more about the policymaking process. I am determined to continue seeking public policy experiences after graduation, while always remembering to ground my advocacy in the communities that I am a part of and working for, and this is all due to my experience at SEARAC. I am immensely grateful to have been part of SEARAC, and I know I will take the love and resilience that I felt there with me wherever I end up going next.