By MARY TAN
AAP Staff Writer
Every year the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) sponsors Asian Pacific Day at the Capitol. It’s a day when Asian Americans are showcased and issues affecting the community are brought to the attention of state legislators. This year the day is planned for Monday, March 19 and the steering committee is starting to plan the event.
Brian Kao is the CAPM staff liaison to the steering committee, which is made up of volunteers from all over Minnesota. “I am hoping to build on the participation we got last year. This year we want to make it better than ever.”
Last year the day focused on a variety of issues. The day began with advocacy training for all those attending so everyone could learn how to present their issues effectively in a discussion with legislators. That was followed by an official welcome by legislators who are supportive of Asian American issues, and then folks either visited their legislators or took a tour of the State Capitol.
Participants visiting legislative offices were encouraged to talk about topics such as the educational achievement gap, health disparities, language requirements and protecting immigrants’ access to police.
This year the steering committee would like to change the event by focusing on one issue dealing with education. At a recent meeting, members discussed topics such as educational disparity in Minnesota’s Southeast Asian community and how integration (busing) funding cuts are affecting the ability of schools to diversify.
The committee is hoping to get a consensus from the community about what educational topic is most important to everyone. The group is hoping Asian Americans from across the state will send ideas and feedback.
Melissa Kwon is an educational researcher and is part of the steering committee. She says having lots of opinions is vital to Asian Pacific Day at the Capitol 2012 being a success. “It is so important for all Asian Americans in Minnesota to get involved with this special day. This is the day we can be heard as a community.”
Saengmany Ratsabout is another steering committee member. He attended last year’s event and hopes this year’s event is even better. “Last year it was great. So many people came, it was really wonderful to see so many youth show up and learn about government and how they can make a difference.”
The steering committee will be meeting monthly to plan the day. The group will be contacting other Asian American organizations to also be part of the event. If you would like to provide feedback or be part of the event, please call Brian Kao at 651-757-1742 or email him at [email protected] as soon as possible.