Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2010) – Fourteen students traveled from all over the nation for workshops and seminars on Asian America Pacific Islander (AAPI) public policy issues and leadership trainings. The conference was sponsored by the UPS Foundation to build stronger leaders in the AAPI community.
The initial session started off with a leadership training by J.D. Hokoyama, President and CEO of the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP). LEAP’s mission is to develop leaders in the AAPI community by developing people and empowering communities. During a special lunchtime presentation, National Director of Programs for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Piyachat Terrell, spoke about Environmental Justice and AAPI youth opportunities with the EPA. The day concluded with an AAPI Issues Roundtable on health care and immigration reform with key staff from the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).
Day two kicked off with Professor Frank Wu, newly named Dean of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He presented a colorful vision of the impact of the Vincent Chin case on current AAPI attitudes about justice and equality. In a session called “Lessons from History: 9066 to 9/11”, Jean Kariya, a World War II Relocation Center survivor recalled her personal wartime experiences, and following her, Fahed Al-Rawaf of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) recounted his community’s experience during 9/11. Floyd Mori, JACL Executive Director, moderated a discussion afterward about the similarities both communities faced during their respective events.
During lunch, Bruce Yamashita told his story of a successful legal case against racial discrimination in the Marine Corps. He used clips from A Most Unlikely Hero, a documentary about the case, to highlight the story. The final workshops of the day were on multiracial and ethnic identity by JACL Midwest Office Ford Fellow, Christine Munteanu, and AAPI Voting Power and the 2010 Elections by Alvina Yeh of APIA Vote.
On the last day of the conference, JACL Norman Mineta Fellow, Phillip Ozaki, tied the content of the conference together in a workshop called, “Bridging Beyond Campus: Public Policy and Campus Organizing”. JACL encouraged participants to bring back the national AAPI policy issues and trainings to campus and take on leadership positions back at their respective universities.
The final session of the JACL Leadership Conference was done by the participants themselves. Groups presented on current topics affecting AAPIs including a bill banning ethnic studies in Arizona and AAPI Health Disparities. The last group presented on AAPIs and Environmental Justice, an issue that the JACL is taking a lead on in the AAPI community. The group educated the other participants on Vietnamese fishermen and how they are being affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill. In the end, all the groups discussed ways to raise more awareness of these AAPI issues back to campus.
Founded in 1929, the JACL is the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization and has organized leadership conferences since 1982 with OCA National. The first JACL Collegiate Leadership Conference was started last year by a grant from the UPS Foundation. The JACL wishes to continue training AAPI collegiate students in Washington DC to bring back their refined leadership abilities to their campuses and communities.