APIAVote- MI presented a great opportunity to explore what I was looking for. My participation on campus at the University of Michigan spurred me to take the chance to see how things played out in the APIA community outside of a college campus. I knew that the APIA community in the real world would be different from the APIA community on campus and I was intrigued to find what those differences would be.
Immediately after my acceptance of the internship, I was sent to Arizona for a week-long training. The timing and location of the training could not have been more perfect in terms of what was pertinent to the current political climate of the country. It was held in Phoenix, Arizona right as the Senate Bill 1070 got signed by Governor Brewer. During the week-long training, I learned valuable skills on how to be an effective organizer in my community while at the same time got the chance to practice these newly learned skills with a local organization that was currently fighting against the SB1070 bill from going into effect. Being able to go into the Latino community, especially when I didn’t speak the language, gave me the experience and confidence I needed to successfully help APIAVote- MI. I quickly learned that being an effective organizer really required me to listen to what others had to say and allow them to tell their stories. Essentially that was the key for people to become engaged in civic participation.
The training went by quickly and the real work begun once I got back to Michigan. My main project was setting up registration drives at various APIA community events. The goal for APIAVote- MI this election is to register 750 new voters in the APIA community. The first event I attended was at the annual Hmong Soccer Tournament. Although I was unfamiliar with other Asian American organizations and what they did, the Hmong Soccer Tournament was a good first impression on what was to come. It was a great first event as throughout the months of June, July, and August, I set up more registration drives at other APIA community events such as picnics or church services or any community gatherings. In the process, I was able to meet numerous people and establish connections with various organizations that I had never even known about. Furthermore, being responsible for coordinating volunteers for each event was an experience. Planning for the volunteer BBQ that was held at the end of July really helped me hone my organizational skills.
Another aspect of my internship involved helping the youth leadership corps that was newly started this summer. Helping the youth leadership corps plan for their field day was something familiar to me as I already had experience planning different events on campus like MAASU, GenAPA, APIA Heritage Month, and various programs hosted by my sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda. I was happy to share my experiences in this area of event planning and it was great to be a mentor to the high school students in the youth leadership corps. It was impressive to see them committed to being involved in the APIA community at an early age.
Overall, my internship experience was fulfilling. I accomplished what I set out to achieve and learned new knowledge and skills along the way. Most importantly, I realized how much of an impact the APIA community potentially has in regards to becoming a mobilized voting bloc. Getting out in the field was an eye-opening experience for me, especially since my interactions with various APIA communities was extremely new to me. Being able to learn about the immigration debate and immigration reform was thoroughly enjoyable. I think it definitely peaked my interest in that area. Even though my internship is complete, I continue to look forward to working with APIAVote- MI in the near future. In fact, I am eager to see how the voter registration project at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University will turn out.