Week 2: The Importance of Storytelling

Amanda Yuen of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

After a week of exploring my Asian American identity with my fellow CLA cohort, I was off on my own to explore the “real world” with my placement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. I didn’t quite know what to expect stepping into the PPFA offices in Altadena; however, I came into the office ready to partake in the important advocacy work that PPFA does. I learned that PPFA has various branches across the United States, with each region focusing on the specific needs of their respective communities. This summer, I am placed at the offices that serve the communities of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley (SGV).

Upon filling out the requisite paperwork and touring the Pasadena and SGV PPFA offices, I talked with my supervisor, Cammie Bo, about the different projects her office is working on. The event that sparked my excitement the most was a debate watch party for the first Democratic Primary debate. I worked with my fellow interns Evie and Camme to put together a fun bingo sheet and set up the event. On Wednesday night, we all got together after work with some PPPSGV supporters to watch the debate. It was really great to see the presence PPPSGV has in Pasadena and to talk with these community members about how we can build upon our relationships through civic engagement. Additionally, as we watched the debate, we wrote postcards to Planned Parenthood volunteers reminding them how important of a year 2020 will be!


One of the other projects consists of going into PPPSGV waiting rooms to collect stories on their patients to learn how PPPSGV has helped them. Initially, when my boss mentioned this project to me, I got really excited because I’ve always been fascinated by the power of stories and their ability to foster empathy and understanding among numerous people. I am filled with enthusiasm as I cannot wait to go into six different clinics and collect stories directly from the patients PPPSGV is helping. I see this as an excellent opportunity to explore the field and see the true impact this organization has. 

The theme revolving around the importance of storytelling carried with me beyond the walls of PPPSGV. During this past Friday, I had the opportunity to grab coffee with a high school mentor of mine, an Asian American studies professor at Loyola Marymount University. We talked about his current research on the dissemination of health practices in Native American communities through both political and cultural means. Whatever methods a community decides to implement should first derive from the needs of the community. This requires that we include all people, especially those who are most affected by new policies or laws, in conversations of change. 

I hope that my work at Planned Parenthood gives me the opportunity to connect with not only those doing important work within the organization, but also with those who benefit from the work that we’re doing. Already, CAUSE Leadership Academy is providing me with skills I can carry with me throughout my career whilst giving me a platform to serve others. As the summer continues, I hope to gain a better understanding of myself and the community I serve.