This past Saturday, October 5th, the JACL-PSW district had its second retreat for the “Rising Seven” participants of this year’s Collegiate Asian Pacific Internship (CAPI).
Already a month has passed since our opening retreat, and the seven interns are now well acquainted with the various community-based AAPI advocacy organizations they spend 10-12 hours of their week for their hands-on nonprofit internship experience.
While our first retreat focused on community-building and learning more about our own and each other’s complex multiple identities, this second retreat was crafted with a focus on intersectional issues many of them expressed wanting to learn more about. Unfortunately, one of the interns fell under the weather and we were missing the presence of Denise during this midsession retreat.
Our day started with rushing to catch the metro to Hollywood and Western to join the Asian Pacific Islander FIRE contingent at this year’s National Day for Dignity & Respect, calling on our Congress to provide a humane and inclusive pathway to citizenship. Immigrant rights is a personal issue for many of us, and while our time was cut short due to our packed schedule, it was affirming to see us in solidarity amongst multiple communities filling the streets for comprehensive immigration reform.
Following the morning’s march, we dived into learning about the intersectionality of race, class and food justice with Project Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, Scott Chan. During this session, we had the chance to interactively learn more about the everyday structural difficulties preventing healthy food access; moreover, we began to consider our own personal abilities to promote culturally appropriate solutions to address the food injustice we witness in our communities.
After a radical self-care themed lunch, we were joined by Eddy Zheng, formerly incarcerated community organizer, for an enlightening Skype session. Eddy’s personal success story of transformation and activism for Asian American Studies in San Quentin State prison was truly inspiring, and yet an exception amongst the rising number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders facing incarceration or detention and deportation due to policies and practices that often criminalize immigrant communities. As many of the CAPI interns wondered on what could be done, Eddy left us with an important message of engaging in a “personal revolution before a social revolution” around social justice issues, such as mass incarceration and lack of resources for AAPI incarcerated community members.
In addition, some of the CAPI interns had prepared and presented their “Carrying on the Legacy” session, in which they took leadership to share the importance of remembering community leaders such as Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, and Grace Lee Boggs, in order to capture how each of us can carry on such legacies of community building and activism today.
Lastly, our retreat winded down with brainstorming for the final project they all hope to organize together to create space that will meet certain needs they feel are pressing in our diverse community today. But most importantly, we made sure to save time to close with how each individual was doing, since an important part of community building is about developing critical connections with one another on our personal journeys as community members and leaders.
Please continue to follow the ever-transforming journeys of these rising community leaders at http://therisingseven.tumblr.com/.