On Thursday, November 14th, CAUSE put together our best workshop yet, treating us VOICE fellows to a day brimming with refreshing insight, meaningful dialogue, and candid realness. Who could ask for more?
We began our day by meeting YVote’s Outreach and Organizing Coordinator, Steven Mora. In his presentation, we got to see how much can be accomplished by engaging the younger demographic. For example, in the 2016 election, YVote’s usage of their statewide network of youth and community organizations was instrumental in increasing the voter mobilization capacities of community organizations. While millennials have been dismally disengaged in the past, I believe that the work produced by organizations like YVote and CAUSE shows that there is plenty of hope for the future.
I enjoyed how Steven’s approach to student engagement stems from using student self-reflection as a tool for self-empowerment. He explained that presenting statistics related to the civic engagement of their demographic and communities can be a very powerful tool for making students realize the importance of their role in voting and staying informed. With a lot of the questions hovering around engaging the next generation in the air, it is nice to know that giving students space to think for themselves goes a long way.
After lunch, CAUSE Executive Director Kim Yamasaki took charge and began her segment of the workshop with the “Rice Bowl” activity. The activity acted as a metaphor for how politics impacts nearly every aspect of our lives. It was fascinating to see how interrelated everything is. On the surface, something in our society may seem as innocuous as placing grains of rice into a bowl, but getting to that point is a long, complicated process with a sea of connections working behind the scenes. Then, we ventured into the realm of “networking” and what it actually means to effectively do so. As someone who has always struggled with being able to form and maintain a healthy network, Kim’s approach was tremendously helpful.
Lastly, CAUSE Program Coordinator Zenni Duong began her workshop segment on Asian American history. Although brief and focusing on mainly three historical examples, (the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Executive Order 9066, & the murder of Vincent Chin), hearing the brutal reality in context with the recent political gains only shows how wholly important it is to be aware of the past.
I appreciate the workshop series throughout this fellowship experience because we are not only given a rare opportunity to meet with leaders from widely varying backgrounds, but also are encouraged to engage with profoundly critical topics that remind us of why we’re doing the work we do.
About the CAUSE VOICE Fellowship:
The Voter Outreach & Immigrant Community Engagement (VOICE) Fellowship (nee CELF Fellowship) is designed to connect APA immigrant communities to civic engagement opportunities. In this intensive fellowship program, fellows actively engage and build trust with APA immigrant citizens to support the community’s self-empowerment and civic engagement.