I’m starting to appreciate the diversity found in Asian Pacific Islander communities. When I say “diversity”, I mean more than just racial and ethnic diversity, but diversity in opinions, viewpoints, and experiences. People usually see disagreements and conflicts in a negative light, but after my first few days interning at the Office of Congresswoman Judy Chu and learning more about the Chinese American community with CAUSE, I’m seeing them as a potential opportunity for progress.
I was very inspired by the panel hosted by Chinese American Citizens Alliance because all the speakers were passionate about furthering the growth of their communities in different ways. Having supported A.B. 1726, the Accounting for Health and Education in API Demographics bill, by poster-making, outreaching, pushing college students to go to the Capitol, I really appreciated Garvey School Districts Boardmember Henry Lo’s words about advocating for data disaggregation.
The API identity is treated as a monolith, but that does the people no justice because it does not cover the broad range of background and experiences that API community members have. I understand that, currently, community members are visibly split upon the issue, but I am not afraid to have a conversation about it. With that, I am really looking forward to speaking to the author of the bill, Assemblymember Rob Bonta.
In addition to leaders who are unafraid to put pressing issues on the table, I also admire leaders who are beholden to no one else but their constituents. However, the general understanding is that those leaders are rare. During lunch with the rest of the CLA interns, Mayor Pro Tem Polly Low, City of Rosemead, talked to us about her experience in getting into politics. She emphasized that she was asked to run by her community, not for selfish reasons of ambition or power. I also admired how she juggled work, leadership, and raising a family. During our meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Low commented, “Best politicians are the ones not running for re-election.”
While interning at a political office, I’m witnessing that there are abundant, never-ending deadlines and there is immense pressure t to complete every task well. Juggling deadlines is very different from school because, in an office, there is a whole team that depends on you to meet those deadlines. Mayor Pro Tem Low seemed to effortlessly balance all her duties while remaining cheerful.
I really admire women in leadership, and although there seemed to be a lot of women in leadership when I was at UC Davis, there aren’t a lot of women in leadership in the outside world. On Tuesday, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the honorary dinner of Deputy Chief Innovation Officer Nadine Lee of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and it is remarkable to see an engineer who is a woman, lead an office that is purported to do groundbreaking work in transportation. It is even more remarkable considering that the Los Angeles region is lacking in infrastructure and convenient, efficient public transportation. She shared excitingly, “Keep your eyes peeled [this Thursday]… Big things are going to happen for public transportation.”
I am one of those constituents who prefer not to drive in LA, and I thought I was definitely in the minority until I met other CLA interns who shared similar sentiments. I didn’t know there were so many college students who preferred to take public transportation to get to school or work, if it were timelier. Moving forward, I’m excited to see what ideas Metro will be working on and how Los Angeles can be transformed to make all parts of the city more accessible and equitable for all residents.
Lastly, I was trained in speaking to constituent matters over the phone recently. There are so many different opinions to be heard. Especially because Congresswoman Chu participated in the House gun control legislation sit-in this past Wednesday and Thursday, our office has been getting a lot of calls—and I would have to say that it was busy and exciting. There were many who were in support, but also many who were vocally opposed. However, listening to both sides was a different experience from reading internet forum comments. I heard them as human voices.