If I could use one word to describe the last few weeks with CAUSE it would be “grateful.” I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about the different facets of the Asian American experience, for the chance to improve myself as a leader, for all the amazing people I have met and have yet to meet, and most importantly for being constantly empowered and inspired as an Asian American to create change in areas I am most passionate about. Without the program, this whole week of opportunities and exposure would be nearly impossible.
The week started off with the chance to sit in for the last session of the CAUSE Political Institute, which is aimed at training political candidates. The focus of the session was staying in touch with the community & life post-elections. Throughout the day, we were able to gain insight from professionals across the spectrum, forming a full picture of what it might take to be elected and what happens after.
One speaker who really stood out to me (and not because she is the person I am interning for) was California State Controller Betty Yee. I really admire and relate to her because she is a first generation Asian American woman who fought through cultural divides and inequalities to become the epitome of a true politician and genuine human being. She ran for office not because she wanted the power or prestige, but because she thought that she could do the job and do it better and more wholeheartedly than any other candidate.
A quote of hers that resonated with me was, “All of us in one time of our lives have stood up for something, and this is everything politics is about.” State Controller Yee continually stands up for Californian communities and is admirably adamant about getting out into the districts, hearing their concerns, providing support, and ultimately acting as their representative.
On Tuesday, the cohort headed over to Little Tokyo to learn about the Japanese American community. The first stop was the nonprofit, Kizuna, where we had a panel of four speakers:
Chris Komai, Board Member, Little Tokyo Community Council
Leslie Ito, President & CEO, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Jeremy Yamaguchi, Mayor, City of Placentia
Stephanie Nitahara, Regional Director, Pacific South West District, Japanese American Citizens League
Each panelist had their own diverse background and together they were able to give us a clearer understanding of the community’s various layers and what they each individually hope to see in the future.
Additionally, we were also able to take a tour of the Japanese American National Museum, where I was completely bowled over by the resilience and bond of the Japanese American community even through times of discrimination and hardship of the internment camps during WWII.
Rounding out the week was a special lunch with State Treasurer John Chiang. An interesting point that he brought up was that Los Angeles, no matter how diverse, is still segregated economically. His goals to increase accessibility, bridge the economic divide, and increase transparency solidify my support and respect for him as an amazing elected official.
Ending this week’s blog is a new mantra of mine taken from something the Treasurer said, “Be your best self and make the choice to make every moment a good moment.”