Leadership Academy LA Blog Week 7

The internship program is entering the countdown phase; we are now on the third to last week of our program, but the days only accelerate and never slow down.


On Monday, the cohort had the chance to meet with Vietnamese American community leaders during a panel discussion.  The panelists each came with a unique perspective and insight on the Vietnamese American community.  We had the honor to meet:

  • Nina Hoa Binh Le, Publisher, Viet Bao Newspaper

  • Gia Ly, President, Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce

  • Ted Nguyen, Department Manager of Public Communications, Orange County Transportation Authority

  • Thuy Phan, Reporter, Saigon Broadcasting Television Network

During the panel, we heard animated discussions on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Vietnamese American community, the refugee history of many Vietnamese American families, and the growth of Little Saigon in Orange County.

The other interns and I posed questions on how to keep Asian American youth interested and involved in their respective communities, since many of the panelists were bilingual and some were specifically involved in creating media for the Vietnamese American community.

The panelists pointed out that it is best to lead by examples; you cannot force another person to connect with their cultural roots and community.  But, what you can do is to show them that your culture is beautiful and stay connected yourself. Perhaps one day they will find themselves curious about their roots as you have shown them.

I felt especially touched with this message, as someone who had also spent period of time running away from my own culture, the statement cannot be more true.  I was helped by Asian American role models who showed me that you can love and be proud of your culture in America; I hope to do the same for other Asian American youths.

Not soon after a packed Monday of a great Civic Leadership Session, on Tuesday the cohort got ready immediately for filming of our Public Service Announcement (PSA) group project.

The PSA is two months of hard work; made up of many group meetings on weekends, late nights, multiple drafts and scripts, and the staff’s patient and helpful feedback. Finally, we were ready to take on the final filming stage.  We had to jump through many hurdles, but I’m proud to say that this final script is reflective of our entire group’s vision, a video suitable for our demographic.

I took up the part of director, helping my peers relax in front of the camera and giving them direct feedback.  We were on a tight schedule, but we finished just on time into the night.  Everyone worked incredibly hard, and I cannot wait to see the final video!

The week continued to run on full speed.  On Thursday morning, my supervisor invited me to attend a Council of Arroyo Seco Agencies (CASA) Quarterly Meeting with her.  The Council of Arroyo Seco Agencies was established in 2001, with the goals of communication and collaboration among public agencies to plan out different aspects of the Arroyo Seco corridor, watershed, and surrounding communities.  A few of the things that CASA oversees includes water quality and reliability, flood management and increased recreational opportunities.

During the meeting, attendees had the chance to hear the updates on the Arroyo Seco Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.  Through lively discussions, I saw the interlocking collaboration and communication amongst members of legislative offices, executive offices, research facilities and community organization.  The meeting made me see clearly how the process of establishing measures is one where many different players take part at the table.