Looking back, 2011 was full of interesting things. Let’s review in pictures (aka me posting the cutest pictures of mine)!
Jan, 2011: Vietnamese Culture Night
I’ve been a part of VCN as a performer (actor, designer, dancer) since my second year — it was truly where I developed my confidence. This year was particularly special as I was here in the role of a modern dance coordinator. It was really a a rags to riches feeling for me: having been on stage only the year before as a beginning dancer to now helping the team as a leader was an experience I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
March 2011: Asian Pacific Coalition Internship
This year, I had the opportunity to be the Leadership Development Coordinator for APC — meaning I would craft the curriculum of and facilitate the APC Internship. This photo is a Team Builder I had all my interns do the first day that they met — one of the challenges was to take a photo with every body in the picture and post it on my Facebook wall. It was fantastic watching my peers develop their critical lenses and become the confident API leaders that they are now on campus. Plus, it let me pretend to be an Asian American Studies professor ;)
April 2011: Southeast Asian Admit Weekend
Access and education are really the two things which define me as an organizer. Yes, there is always advocacy and community development, but at heart I am truly an educator and SEA Admit Weekend attempts to confront the issue head-on in Southeast Asian communities. I’ve always been involved with SEA Admit weekend but this year I took a step back to return to my passions and become a workshop coordinator, allowing me direct access to the students rather than directing the program as I’ve done in the past.
May 2011: Community Programs Office Banquet
This is a photo of myself with Asian Pacific Coalition Staff of 2010-2011. We were small but powerful. We helped revitalize a community that few had faith in and my experience with APC will define my career for a long time. Seriously, this was the definition of a bomb-ass team if I ever knew it. We tackled fucked up immigration policy, deportations, voting registration, and fucking Alexandra Wallace at the battle zone. If anything, we became family. I had some of my favorite drunken nights, intense intellectual conversations, challenging moments, emotionally wrecking and uplifting experiences of my life thus far.
June 2011: Santa Monica Pier
This here is a homo-erotic picture of myself with my roommate Derick. Fucking Derick. Hahaha. This is the year we became roommates. We’ve done some ratchet ass shit, seen some nasty stuff, and done some crazyass things. You frustrate me sometimes but I can’t seem to live without ya. You’re like a brother to me now — including the fact that I can get annoyed with you as much as I love hanging out with you sometimes haha. You’re always welcome here in SJ but next time make sure you triple check your departure time LOL. Also this photo was taken by my bro. He’s great huh.
June 2011: UC Berkeley Southeast Asian Student Coalition’s Summer Institute 2011
I’ve always been jealous of UC Berkeley’s Southeast Asian organizing space and community. If I had known about this in high school, I might have picked to go there instead of UCLA (…well realistically no, but whatever). To this day, I always wonder, “what if?” Anyway, this memory is particularly significant because it gave me the opportunity to work directly with students again in a development space — so much of my four years of organizing was defined by working behind the scenes. I thought I knew it all, especially being a Mentor for the program, but this experience proved to me that I will always be able to learn something new about myself.
July 2011: UCLA Travel Study to Hawaii
Fuck. When I think about the last time I was blissfully happy, Hawaii memories always come back to mind. I was with an amazing group of individuals, experienced some awesome shit, saw some crazy community stuff, and realized how much I loved the brown of my skin. I felt beautiful there, both inside and out. It was amazing academically as well — one of the few ways I was able to practice Ethnic Studies in conditions vastly different than I’m used to with multi-layered and multi-dimensional complications of API identity. I also got to meet one of my idols: Prometheus Brown from Blue Scholars.
August 2011: Garlic Fest
This is around the time I turned 21. My first Garlic Fest. Made sisters for life. If you don’t know, then I can’t say. Hahahaha.
August 2011: Asian Pacific Coalition 2011-2012 Staff Retreat
After such an amazing year of being on APC, I didn’t think another year could top it. It just wouldn’t be as great — how could it? However, after our first retreat (which incidentally was the first time we all met) at Lake Arrowhead, I was astounded. In some magical universe, I managed to have the privilege of working with some of the most passionate, critical, outspoken, and talented young folks. This year has been amazing so far — I see great stars in this team and I can’t wait to see what folks do after.
September 2011: Tuesday Night Cafe
I’ve written poetry for a long time. I have journals and journals of angsty shit dating back to the early 2000’s [middle school] haha. I won a slam contest in 8th grade. Over the years, my style has changed dramatically and spoken word wasn’t something I experimented with until college. I remember, my first live spoken word event also coincided with my first API organizing event: CAPSA in 2009 goes to Tuesday Night Cafe. There, I saw my [future] mentor perform a piece about being Queer and I was…liberated. I thought to myself: damn, if I could ever do that, I could die happy. Turns out, two years later I would. I’ve got a ways to go to be the performer I want to be but thank you TNC for that opportunity.
October 2011: Occupy Los Angeles
Alright, this doesn’t look like an Occupy LA photo, but trust me it is. We (Asian Pacific Coalition) were the first group from UCLA to roll a student group out to Occupy LA, which was quite significant for us as we were concerned with the lack of PoC (esp. API) in this movement. We marched in with an API community contingent (for whom I was able to perform a Philip Vera Cruz piece —- “Human Dignity”). While things didn’t quite meet our expectation, having this event meant a lot to us and our community.
November 2011: Repeal Prop 209 Rally
2011 was a highly political year, especially concerning students who have intimate stakes in PoC communities. It comes after a decade of attacks in institutional and societal forms but enough was enough this year for many folks. Proposition 209 was being considered again during this time and we students felt it necessary to speak. Here, I am helping hold up a banner on behalf of the API community’s stake in this matter, whether opinions have changed in the last decade or not.
November 2011: API West Coast Coalition
There have been regional API student organization networks in the past. Many lived, thrived, but all died. Some died within months of their development. We on the West Coast have not seen one in a while, begging the question of: is it necessary? It brings up great points of how vibrant our communities have become (especially on the shoulders of previous organizing) but in light of a shattering society, it is necessary now. This is what we came to at Students of Color Conference 2011 and I’m honored to be a part of developing this. We all have high hopes, let’s hope it delivers.
November 2011: UC Regents Rally
Occupy Movements, Proposition 209, Police Brutality, all are connected. Here, I am a part of the UC Regents Rally in protest of how they are cutting budgets (ie bleeding students). This message is clear: we will not be silent.
December 2011: Vegas
Alright, kind of a combo breaker here since the last few were so political but damn this is the first time I’ve been to Vegas! No, not as just a 21 year old but in forever! Also, being 21 in Vegas is awesome! I really can understand why people go here now. However, I didn’t party as hard that weekend (I’m realizing my party stamina is low low low) as I’m getting old but I reminisce about it now. I definitely get a craving of going again as long as it’s with the right people. I spent a lot of time surrounding myself with many people, but who were the right people? And in Vegas, I realized, you gotta make an effort to make the right people with who you got. Definitely a great time.
Woo. That took a while. What a self-wanking spiel. 2012 sees some interesting highlights too: graduating, grad school (maybe?), returning home, coming to terms, health advocacy, age. Damn.