To kickoff the second week of our internship program, we started off Monday with two sets of panels featuring first, guest speakers from the entertainment industry and second, government officials from local government entities. At first, I was immediately surprised at the two sets of guest speakers scheduled, as I thought those from the entertainment sector would be immensely different than those from the local government sector. However, as both panels wrapped up for the day, it became clear to me that despite the different career field that both sets of guest speakers chose, all of them shared the common goals of breaking barriers and creating positive impacts as members of the Asian Pacific Islander community.
The first panel featured guest speakers from the entertainment industry, including Sean Miura from Buzzfeed, Francis Cullado from Visual Communications, and Julie Zhan from the YouTube series YAPPIE. I personally do not have much knowledge about the media industry and even less knowledge about Asian Americans in the media industry, so I found the panel to be refreshing. Through our discussion of the media industry, my peers and the guest speakers were able to unpack the lived experiences and implications of Asian Americans in a predominantly white career field. We touched on topics such as the model minority myth, fetishization of Asian American women, and the lack of diversity in Asian American narratives. The discussion also frequently referenced the movie Crazy Rich Asians, which has been generating a lot of buzz because of its all Asian cast. However, a sentiment Sean expressed during our conversation about the movie that struck me was that “It is not enough just to have the same story being told over and over again.” This is referring to the fact that while the new movie does seek to address certain stereotypes about Asian Americans, it also does harm in reinforcing other stereotypes such as the model minority myth through highlighting the wealth of Asian Americans in the movie.
The second panel featured guest speakers from various entities of local government, such as The Honorable Thomas Wong, President of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, Councilwoman Rachelle Arizmendi of the City of Sierra Madre, and Mayor Jeffrey Maloney of Alhambra. Throughout this discussion, my peers and I were given the opportunity to ask tough questions to the elected officials, pertaining to gentrification, tax policies, and more. It was interesting to hear about their stances and concerns with certain topics, along with their personal background stories that impacted their political views. In addition, I was elated to be able to ask my own questions, pertaining to running in the future. A word of advice given to me by Councilwoman Rachelle Arizmendi is that “running is a personal decision, so get to know yourself.” I will forever remember to cherish this advice. Although I can continuously get the approval of my friends and family, unless I truly feel ready to do something, I will never take the first step forward. After hearing this piece of advice, I hope to continue to stay true to myself and get to know myself more, as I know that this advice extends beyond the internship program itself to all aspects of life.
Overall, I had an extremely enjoyable second week at CAUSE. I truly admire all the speakers that came, as every one of them had given me something to think about and consider. I found it fascinating that despite the different career paths the two set of speakers have chosen, it remains evident that both sets of people truly want to establish a community where Asian Americans are not discriminated against and where the Asian American community can continue to thrive socially and economically. I guess you can say that both sets of speakers are two sides of the same coin.