There were no official CAPAL events this past week – no Washington Leadership Program, no Roundtable discussions, no info sessions. It was a quiet week at CAPAL, while the nation and its leadership loudly asserted America’s stances to the world. Within the CAPAL cohort, there were still many important discussion regarding America’s independence day: July 4th.
Referring to last week’s monumental discussions, many CAPAL scholars and interns were left buzzing about America’s stance on freedom and whether it varied for different people.
Since many AANHPI individuals are only a couple of generations away from family who immigrated to the US or immigrated to the US themselves, immigration is a very personal topic.
Sharon Le, a CAPAL intern said:
“America has a special place in my heart. Just knowing that my parents had sacrificed their time, money, effort, and even relationships to get my family here – America is an opportunity. It was a chance they saw for me so I could succeed even more than they did, and with their sacrifices in mind, I want to make them proud by showing them, with whatever it is that I choose to be my job or career, that all of their work pays off. This country is not only home to me now, it’s also a very interesting place to be at this point in time – things are changing, people are speaking up, and others are listening. That’s why this country has a special place in my heart: it’s my chance to prove to my parents that I can and will do what I love and won’t let them down.”
Many young adults of the AANHPI community feel this way. America is what brought either their family or themselves, opportunities that wouldn’t be imaginable otherwise.
Another intern at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Tingyao Li, puts it simply:
“Being American means embracing diversity and learning about the culture of others!”
Despite being an AANHPI focused group, there is plenty of diversity within the cohort itself. So Tingyao’s comment couldn’t apply to the Scholars and Intern cohort any better. During the course of this program, they have all been exposed to the many divisions of the AANHPI community.
Anita Mathias, a 2018 USDA intern, is looking to the future:
“I think America should be a place where everyone can find belonging and a home. It’s not supposed to be made for one group of people or one culture… it’s made for everyone together.”
This quote was a wonderful precursor to our annual Central Intelligence Agency tour. On Friday, July 6, some interns and scholars were able to go the CIA and learn first-hand what CIA officers do – or at least as much as the officers could tell our students. Representatives from The Asian Pacific American Organization Resource Group (APAO) within the agency explained how they make sure that every CIA officer can find the sense belonging that Anita referenced.
Regardless whether or not you agree or disagree with the decisions of last week, you have to agree that it doesn’t matter where you work, from where you have come, or where you are going – this week our scholars, interns, and community have affirmed that in the United States there is a place for everyone.