viii

summer friends do stay.

this is going to be an unrefined attempt to unpack my reflections on the end of my time with LEAP, my cohort, and everyone else who touched my life this summer.

to FACE, i hope that you know that when i say you challenged me, it means that you took me out of the comfort of the familiar, and led me to understand a completely different area of the AAPI community. you challenged me to open my heart and mind to the uncomfortable, you taught me that people with different values can find common ground. you were not easy, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. i haven’t been the perfect intern, but do know that i took this seriously, and will take all the lessons and blessings you’ve given me throughout my life. you taught me not to shy away from the light i hold inside.

to LEAP, i feel so so ready for my senior year because of every opportunity you’ve given me. every workshop was incredibly valuable, every lesson something to carry with me forever. thank you for listening, most of all. listening to me, my cohort, my anger, my fears. because of you i felt as if i made a real change. because of this program i am a more empowered asian-american woman. i promise to pay it forward when i can.

to the cohort, in no way did i see any of this coming. the stars aligned, and we were in the right place at the right time with each other. crossing paths in a way so dynamic and explosive that the world just couldn’t handle it – it only had to be for a summer. i feel like i could be my best self because you all were who you were. in all our imperfections as a group, i see so much strength and wisdom and kindness. all i can really say is that i’m grateful. i’m grateful for each of you, i’m grateful to have been in your presence and light. we’re off on our own paths now, but i have no doubts that we’ll meet again somehow. LEAP may have brought us all together but we made it what it was. i couldn’t have asked for a more badass, awesome, hardworking group to call my cohort, my friends, my loved ones. let’s not forget each other when we all make it.

special thanks to the LIA retreat week group for being my mini-family in that AMAZING one week together. much love to the hard summer squad for helping me close my summer RIGHT. though our time together was really for social bonding, you helped me have THE MOST fun this summer hands down. i needed a reminder to work hard but also play hard.

i’m off to senior year, to the rest of my life, but it’ll be hard to disprove the impact LIA made in my undergraduate career in both the small and big ways.

vii.2

when in doubt, write things out.

my heart is having a hard time settling into sleep. when i’m overwhelmed with information and discussion, it’s hard for me to want to articulate everything i want/need to say. it’s been hours since we debriefed on our community impact project, and still my mind lingers on it, trying to process everything.

one of my biggest takeaways is that my words are more powerful than i like to believe. i don’t give myself enough credit in the impact i create on people. i want to believe that it is a gift used to make positive change, but i must harness my emotions. the intensity of how i feel things is felt by others. i’m not so powerless as i think, and as a wise uncle said, with great power comes great responsibility.

sheesh, i really am my biggest critic. i don’t usually reward myself with a lot of love or grace. i expect so much out of myself. so, so much to the point where it can never feel like enough. i received so much love today, too! like an unbelievable amount. and yet, all my mind and energy can only focus on the improvements i need to make.

my mistakes alone and my successes alone do not make me. i want to accept both.

overall, the community impact project was a great exercise for programming and teamwork. i feel as if i was warmed up for my senior year, and took away a lot about myself and others that i am very excited to bring back to berkeley. and honestly, it feels as if the stakes are higher than ever.

but i won’t put LEAP’s good efforts to waste. i’m just getting started.

vii.1

my internship is wrapping up fast. it’s feeling really bittersweet and i need time to process all my feelings. now that it’s august, i’m feeling pressured to also prepare for school and all my leadership responsibilities there.

my time with FACE has been so inspirational in a lot of ways. this past week, i wrote another grant that was due soon. despite my stress, my CEO and i managed to pull through and submit it on time. i realized how much i had grown because my first grant writing assignment was a big big struggle (on a more positive note though: that first grant i wrote got through the first round and we’ll hear back august 17th on whether it gets passed or not!!).

thursday, we attended a workshop on a disaggregation data analysis tool called racecounts.org and it is phenomenal. i was reminded of my love and passion for data and policy and i overall had a lot of excitement for this project. it’s only been 1 year since its release but it’s already so much more comprehensive, useful, and user-friendly than a lot of other data websites. looking forward to what it can do for people!! it was also great to run into a fellow leap intern, chee cia, who interns at the site that hosted the workshop, the asian pacific community fund.

we also had two speakers, mark whitlock and mark keam. though it was a long 2 and a half hours of speaking, it’s so astounding how connected my CEO is to these big wigs. i especially enjoyed mark keam, the first asian-american voted into the virginia house of delegates. he was also on obama’s campaign team. he really convinced me that i should go to law school. after a tiring summer of trying to connect with people who have done the field of law and constantly discouraged me, i found someone who was honest and genuine about it. real deal type of stuff.

and yeah, maybe i was just searching for someone to affirm my dream of law school because i’m afraid to do it on my own volition. maybe i was gonna go to law school anyway, because i’m not done yet with school. i’m not done with opening my doors. i got a lot in store for me, and i know, deeeep in my heart, that i really want to go to law school. yes, for stability. yes, to leverage resources to my community. yes, for myself.

week 7 was a good good one! looking forward to post finally about the entire process of LIA’s community impact project: Home.

vi

week 6 felt good!

FACE has been having a lot of big events so now that it’s over the office feels a little calmer. my supervisor also said that we’ve almost caught up to all the backloaded items that needed completion. i’ve got to hand it to us. even though FACE does a lot of external events – public hearings, meetings, education classes, homeownership fairs, api initiatives – we never showed that we’ve been playing catchup.

a couple of highlights

  • wednesday, both supervisors were gone as they were off to a training
    • it was a test of integrity and responsibility as i was left as the intern in charge of getting a lot of important things done
    • even though it was a stressful day, i felt good because it’s very easy to want to take it easy when your bosses are away. integrity is key to the well-maintenance of any organization
  • thursday, us fellows were invited to that same training on financial literacy and coaching as observers
    • to my great surprise, i met an alumni of one of LEAP’s other program, Kerry. she came up to me and it was super cool getting to know her. the lesson of the day is that you never know when you’re gonna network. i guess i shouldn’t force myself to make connections!
    • an even greater surprise was when she introduced me to one of their AmeriCorps workers who was a Filipina alumni from UC Berkeley!! she graduated in 2017 and we had similar social circles. i couldn’t believe we never met in undergrad. it’s really refreshing to meet someone who understands exactly what it’s like being a Filipino student at Berkeley out in the real world.
    • there’s a lot of pressure coming from Berkeley. as much as i hate it, i didn’t work hard not to live up to it so might as well own it. here’s to fighting and beating the impostor syndrome.

overall, wow. my internship is almost done!!! next week is our community impact project. and then after that, it’s graduation. i’ve learned and loved a lot this summer.

v.ii

health is wealth.

friday morning, i woke up feeling bad. my stomach was in so much pain, and i was conjuring up a sweat every time i used the bathroom. something was definitely wrong, and i realized that i had a bad case of food poisoning that made me feverish.

of course, this wasn’t anything in my control because i am just the poor victim of whatever food i ate at the gala, but i missed out on so much because of being in poor health. and i hate it. this is why i hope to always prioritize my health.

i missed out on my weekly LEAP training/programs, and i am currently missing my work’s African Immigrant Homeownership Fair. all of that probably because of that salmon i ate. it’s really frustrating.

overall though, it was still an interesting week. thursday was LEAP’s annual fundraising gala. i have a lot of mixed feelings about it. having to ask people to fundraise – meeting all kinds of people. experiencing successes and failures in fundraising. attacking my social anxiety in order to do something meaningful.

my first table that i approached was horrible. this guy who was CLEARLY drunk gave me a very aggressive, “our organization already donates a lot so we’re good.” as if it’s my fault for being told to do my job of fundraising. whoever you are, what you did was unnecessarily rude. and i hope that the next time a man talks to me like that i will set him in his place!

but there were many great experiences. one of my successful fundraising pitches got me talking to someone from union bank who really made me feel better, and praised me of having done a good job with my ask. i also was able to meet chloe, a powerful woman who made the whole night worth all the trouble i went through.

i would have loved to conventionally network more with the powerful people in the room, to meet and meet until i found someone who could get me places, but at the end of the day, i crave connection. and if i meet that one person who gets me going, makes me feel empowered, and gives me a genuinely good time, i’d rather spend all my time talking to just that one person. it’s a value of mine to connect deeply and meaningfully. that is my kind of networking.

all in all, an interesting experience. i’m definitely getting ready for my life post-grad and i thank LEAP and FACE for all the cool experiences i’m having.

v.i

the toughest days are when you should practice the most gratitude.

today in itself was rough, but overall i’ve been settling into my work nicely and my routine is set.

there are so many events happening in a short amount of time, so i’ll give myself grace in all the craziness. for only having three days in my office, i got a lot done, so i’m proud of myself for that!

i’m grateful for all my experiences and opportunities. it’s been dope.

tomorrow is LEAP’s Gala, and Saturday is FACE’s Homeownership Fair. let’s gooo. 🙂

iv

(oops i am late!!) the midway point has got me thinking about all sorts of things. to be honest i have been holding back on my posts because i know i can go on forever about everything happening. it’s hard for me to even recap what i do in one day.

i’m a bullet-point kinda girl, so maybe listing everything that is super significant to me would help?

work highlights

  • my supervisor is incredibly savvy in politics – i’ve attended all kinds of special meetings and events
  • we went to city hall to sit in a public hearing on an economic development meeting to advocate for API workforce resources
  • we also sat in an economic work group where all kinds of people worked together on LA Promise Zones, an initiative under the previous administration to address impoverished highly urban areas
    • let me tell you, it is rare to see government workers from the federal, state, and local level AND people representing the community through business and non-profits WORK TOGETHER AND MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
    • i probably nerded out so much listening to policy stuff and learning about how effective policy can be played out successfully
  • i have a slight obsession with grant writing now – as someone who literally writes a 10-page paper at least once every semester this is something i want to NAIL
  • i was meant to be here for my community impact project with LEAP
  • i am witnessing what it’s like when non-profits struggle internally – not necessarily a bad thing but definitely ya girl is in the thick of cleaning lots of stuff up
    • thankfully my past 2 years of being an administrative assistant at my work study has paid off and come in handy – all this reimbursement stuff doesn’t seem so unfamiliar
  • i have never been so frustrated by all these new systems that the adult world uses
    • what is constant contact, what is quickbooks, i am still trying to figure that out hahah
  • i spoke out at the National Commission for Voter Justice public hearing this past saturday!!
    • really i was shaking when i gave my testimony but after a senator from philadelphia who was co-chair of the commission shook my hand and kept telling me to never stop because he saw fire in me and man i was touched
    • i also did research on the voter registration act of 1965 and yes i know almost everything about section 208, 203, 5, and 2 so hit me up if you wanna talk about it

ah yes, after 3 weeks of struggling on this blog, i was finally able to share all the cool stuff i’ve been doing. guess it comes easier when you adjust at work.

iii.1

we are approaching the midway point of the internship. it’s crazy how i am still settling into everything. and by everything i mean the culture of a different city, the work culture of my placement site, and figuring out my daily routine. after 3 years of being a student, i’m out of place and starting over again.

because i’m still settling i don’t feel like i can be 100% at work, both at FACE and LEAP. while i want to be patient with myself, i also want to get my schedule down so that i can get the most out of my experience.

this past week i attended a retreat for a leadership program that is offered to the FACE interns for free. it’s been challenging for me, as someone who has separated her faith from her work, to see the two intertwine. i still have mixed feelings about where i stand on it, and it’s been a big part of why i still haven’t completely adjusted. i’m a thinker, who needs time to process and reflect. but i’m also someone who doesn’t like not knowing what she’s feeling. there are a lot of things in this world that i cannot control, but i can control myself. when i can’t even do that, it gives me a noxious feeling.

it’s been a long, long time since i’ve faced my gripes about faith and christianity. as someone who was raised in a non-denominational church, i have truly seen the good and positive impacts of christianity. i’ve had great memories in my church, and made deliberate choices to become saved, to follow christ. i definitely believe in miracles and in a maker, but i am also disturbed by how harmful christianity can be when twisted and corrupted. when i entered college, i decided to take a step back and re-evaluate, because i didn’t know if i was willing to accept the faith in its entirety. i know any religion can cause harm, just as any religion can cause good. but for me, it wasn’t something that was so easy for me to accept because above all, i want to love and respect people, to celebrate them, to uplift them. and sometimes the people who follow christ do not do that.

these past two weeks, i feel as if i’ve been sulking a little too much though. despite all my inner turmoil in trying to reflect and see where i stand, i forget to acknowledge how great of an opportunity this is and why. i spoke with a LEAP staffer on the way to our off-site workshop for the day, and she said very insightful things that reminded me why this is such a good opportunity. many AAPI communities rely heavily on faith, and to ignore it and worse, condemn it, can lead to hypocrisy in my values. how can i say i wish to serve all AAPIs without acknowledge the importance of faith? how can i say i want to grow when the going gets tough and i want the easy way out?

while i am still wrestling with my own faith, and still quietly seek out what God has to say to me, i know that for sure, i was meant to be here. whether by divinity, or the universe, or by my own choices, i am here. i am proud to be placed in FACE, i will continue to educate myself, to keep an open mind, to learn as much as i can, to pause before passing quick judgment, and to contribute to all the communities i want to uplift.

ii.1

the first week of working at my placement site…wow lots of ups and downs.

i drink more coffee than i used to.

i knock out at 10:30pm – this is unheard of in my generation.

i deal with the everyday joy of a nice 30-40 minute commute listening to tyler, the creator’s “flower boy”.

the last time i worked 40 hour weeks was the summer before my freshman year of college. and wow, do i have way less energy than i used to. what happened to the girl that used to work overtime everyday and still come home feeling okay?

my placement site is definitely a good and worthwhile challenge. i’m the only non-korean intern, amongst a lot of other things. (fun fact: i took 1 year of introductory korean so you could imagine my joy when that stuff finally came in handy, kamsahaeyo to all my sonsaengnims). i felt really alienated my first day, and even though i feel a little more comfortable now, it’s weird how i haven’t really settled the way i wish i did. as usual, i am rushing into things, and expecting myself to have things down pat by the first week. i’ve always hated not feeling in control.

good stuff too though! i wrote my first grant proposal. no amount of writing experience i have will ever prepare me for that. i realize that even though i appreciate praise from others, it won’t mean anything if i, myself am not satisfied with my work. no matter how many times i was reassured that for a first grant, it was really good, i can’t seem to truly accept it knowing that i wanted to do better. eh. old habits die hard?

i know that i had different expectations for how my first week was going to hash out, but i’m not taking that as a bad thing. it’s an opportunity for my worldview to shift, for me to be open-minded. everything really is an opportunity for something. even if i don’t see it.

like the unforeseen challenges of subleasing and your lifestyle preferences don’t seem to line up with your housemates and you feel out of place because they’re all close. or fighting with your partner when you come home from a difficult day at work and you take it out on them even though they didn’t do anything wrong. or questioning if your values really line up with the work you are doing.

there’s also a lot of things to be happy about. i’ve never been more comfortable in my body, mind, spirit. my head and heart is focused. i think and feel clearly. it feels good. i feel healthy in the most holistic sense of the word.

week two passed quickly so let’s miiiiiilk it, please.

i.2

when given the chance to actually create change, how many people actually go for it?

most times, i can be content with very little. or feel as if i am not the person to spark change, denying my own agency to be the change i always wanted to see. at berkeley, i am around many passionate activists on the front line and i always felt inadequate or not worthy to be a strong voice.

leap has given me a chance to spark change after a sexist interchange happened to me after a workshop facilitation. even after a week, i can’t tell you how hurt i was when it happened. when you’re every bit as serious as the male counterpart, yet turned down flat, not even given a chance to speak.

i remember being furious. i remember being in a state of loathing. it’s like that feeling when you know something wrong happened, but you couldn’t seem to do anything about it. strength was in acting fast and decisively. and it was the first time i ever did anything like that.

i won’t listen to your advice. i’m still going to law school, and i look forward to the next time we speak.”  straight to his face.

and now we are meeting with the CEO to actually bring this instance up? because what’s the point of learning about value-based leadership if we allow things like this to be treated only as an instance of poor mentorship versus a systemic issue? i’m so blessed to be part of an organization like LEAP that really really listens to their participants and encourages them to be their best selves.

i swear. right now, i’m my best self. i’m feeling at ease this summer, knowing that i chose to be part of the right org. the stars aligned and now all i can do is make the most of it because summer will end before i know it.