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Following a week of difficult events, from the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille to those of Dallas and Baton Rouge policemen, Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) hosted the fifth Washington Leadership Program on the topic of Criminal Law and Justice Reform. CAPAL Board Chair Carrie Kagawa moderated the panel consisting of Darakshan Raja (API Domestic Violence Research Project – Board Member), Arthur Ago (Public Defender Service for DC – Chief of the Trial Division), Michael Yu (Montgomery County Police Department – Law Enforcement Officer), and Jae Hwang (Montgomery County Police Department – Deputy District Commander). Anticipating a variety of opinions from the panel and the audience, the first item of the session was to establish community guidelines, suggested by those in attendance.

“Challenge the idea, not the person.”

“Respect each other.”

“Assume people are coming from a good place.”

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Throughout the two hours spent in that room, disparities between communities and within the AAPI community were brought to the forefront of the conversation, raising the question of how progress could be made if even within the AAPI community divides are perceived and stood by so strongly. But it was also mentioned that the willingness of all the participants to even listen to each other and engage in Wednesday night’s discourse was a step in the right direction, towards reconciling differences and working towards solutions. There is more control over the future once self-awareness, where self is that of the individual or the community, is recognized.

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That level of openness and self-evaluation was utilized again at CAPAL’s 2016 AAPI Career Fair at the Department of the Interior’s South Auditorium, where participants found commonalities with employers’ missions and made connections to establish a lasting relationship. While not fraught with debate, these conversations allowed attendees to see the many paths that can be taken towards the future, how those within the AAPI community have an array of backgrounds and specialties that can lead to diverse careers. This was made clearer in person at a VIP dinner hosted by CAPAL for sponsors and select CAPAL interns and scholars. The latter, exposed to the possibilities and advice offered by the professionals at the table, gained insight into the many options available in the realm of public service.

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These events, while elucidating the many differences within the AAPI community, do not preclude the idea that these differences are divisive. On Saturday morning at the OCA National Center, interns and scholars from CAPAL, Organization of Chinese American (OCA/OCAPA), and the International Leadership Foundation (ILF) all came together to participate in Asian Pacific Islander American-U (APIA-U) Leadership Training. The attendees were guided through activities as varied as dancing in a soul train line to discussing education of minority issues in national curriculum. One particular activity had individuals realize their privileges compared to others in the room, a humbling experience that resulted in an outflow of compassion and empathy. Out of recognition of disparities sprung forth unity.2 e1468849435498 Weekly Wrap Up

After a week of events that provide all the more reason to stand apart as a community, as a country, it is so important to come together as a community and remember the basics.

“Challenge the idea, not the person.”

“Respect each other.”

“Assume people are coming from a good place.”

If you enjoyed reading about events this week, join us next week to experience them yourself at our Washington Leadership Program Session V: Mental Health and Roundtable Series Session with David Kim.


CAPAL’s Mission: Promote AAPI interests and success in public service careers, to provide information and education on policy issues affecting the AAPI community, and to serve the AAPI community at large.

Posted by Felicia Wong

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Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for greater diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program on campus. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades her junior year to lead a sustainable healthcare program in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background and teachings. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non-country specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.