Learning to Form an Inclusive AAPI Community | Written By: Julia Duong, 2016 ILF Fellow
In college, I have always deemed myself as being a part of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. I’m involved in multiple AAPI groups on campus, working on initiatives for the AAPI community in campus inclusivity. Yet, as someone who prides herself as being a part of this community, I’ve always questioned whether the community I cherish is a true AAPI community. I’ve constantly felt a divide on campus between first generation AAPIs born in the U.S. and AAPIs born in Asia. Is there a language barrier? Is there a cultural difference in upbringing? What is the cause of this unspoken line drawn between communities?
I’ve always wondered about how to break this socially constructed barrier and how to truly form an inclusive community. I always wondered what this community would look like, but I never quite put my thoughts to actions. I’m ashamed to admit that I have not previously taken initiative to bridge this gap within the community together.
Within the past few days through ILF though, I have been able to experience a more inclusive community of AAPIs both born in the US and AAPIs born in Asia. Through ILF’s Young Ambassadors (YA) program, I was able to meet lots of students from Taiwan and China. After attending the International Trade Administration (ITA) presentation with the Young Ambassadors, I was able to learn from my peers and witness the unique perspective they have about global issues affecting the world today. I enjoyed hearing about their unique perspectives on issues such as the TPP and foreign direct investment. I admired their boldness and passion in asking questions that most would be too scared to ask. Chatting with the Young Ambassadors at the ILF Pre-Gala Event was just the beginning of a close bond between the fellows and YAs. Although we come from different backgrounds, I was able to connect with them on so many different things – from fish bones to future plans.
The friendliness and genuinity in the group of YAs is one that cannot be matched. I am very thankful that ILF has given me the opportunity to expand my network and learn about such a broad range of experiences from the YAs. Being able to witness a blend of communities between the Fellows and YAs gives me hope and motivation for my community on campus to move in this direction of more inclusivity. My only regret is that the YAs are not staying in DC longer, but for the time they were here, I am very grateful to have met so many wonderful people.