As my final week has come to an end, I have taken some time to reflect on exactly how far I have come over the last nine weeks. When I began the CAUSE Leadership Academy, I could not have imagined the sheer number of incredible events that I have experienced and the amount of amazing people that I have encountered.
Fittingly, our final week’s Civic Leadership Workshop began with a discussion with Councilmember David Ryu, City Councilmember for the City of Los Angeles, someone who I personally consider to be a trailblazer for the Asian Pacific American community. He shared his experiences in campaigning, and, as we have heard many times before, emphasized the importance of voting in our political system, stating that “I believe in the system. It should work.”
We then followed that with a roundtable panel at the Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), hearing from speakers:
Johng Ho Song, the Executive Director of KYCC
Hyepin Im, the Executive Director of Korean Churches for Community Development
Doo Hyung Kang, a Korean Organizer for the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
John Yi, the Advocacy Director for the American Lung Association
Through this panel, we were exposed to the experience of Korean-Americans in the United States, and we were also taught valuable lessons about how we could leverage our communities’ strengths to help make our voices heard over the narratives assigned to the APA community. As Mr. Yi taught us, “Just because we don’t agree with the narrative, it does not mean we cannot be at the table.”
At the end of our roundtable, I could not help but to think that my experience as a Leadership Academy Intern has finally come full circle. From the beginning, we were taught to search for the untold stories of our APA community, and to help our communities make their voices heard.
Over the last nine weeks, we have learned about a number of major groups that help to comprise the diverse APA identity, and have been given guidance on how to leverage that knowledge into positive change. As I had iterated in my statements at the CAUSE Kickoff, my guiding principle has been “Learning for the sake of doing, and doing for the sake of learning.”
At the conclusion of this internship program, I can safely say that the CAUSE Leadership Academy has been the epitome of this belief, with each passing week being a valuable learning opportunity, as well as a chance to put what I have learned thus far into practice. I truly cannot emphasize how much this approach has helped me grow over the course of these nine short weeks.
As I prepare to return to my campus, I know that I will return a changed man. I will no longer just have the desire to enact change on my campus, but the knowledge, tools, and experiences to actually make my goals a reality. That is the empowerment that CAUSE strives to impart to everyone who interacts with their organization, and I am lucky to have been a recipient of it.
In the Treasurer’s Office, my final week has been defined by the legacy I want to leave behind. With the arrival of a new crop of interns, I have been presented with the opportunity to guide and give back to those who are coming after me, so that they do not have to encounter the same mistakes I did, and that they are truly prepared to handle the rigors of serving one of California’s Constitutional Officers.
Hopefully, they will come to understand the importance of lifelong learning. This is a lesson that the Treasurer has taught me and one that I have tried to teach them. From this experience, I can only hope to learn more and do more with what I learn in preparation for the next chapter of my life.