By Sam Le
Northwest Asian Weekly
As a closing of one chapter, an adventurous and thrilling internship with the Southeast Asian Education (SEAeD) Coalition nears its end, I was asked what are my next steps? My name is Sam Le and I am a current student at the University of Washington pursuing a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Social Welfare.
I plan to invest my time in truly immersing myself in service for others and equality. My next steps will be becoming a board member of the Asian Coalition for Equality at the University of Washington and further exploring opportunities to advocate for social change. However, this value of social justice and advocacy was not always my own, but since my internship, my perspectives have changed.
Being an intern for the SEAeD Coalition, I have learned to know the importance of engaging in politics. Why? Because in the world of politics, not voting when able to vote is nearly equivalent to voting no, this is what I learned from Tony Vo, the lead of the internship program. Not only learning the importance of engagement in politics, I was also able to understand the importance of building unity among the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. I singlehandedly saw the powerful work that unity of communities have been able to do locally at our state capital in Olympia when I went as a participant for API Legislative Day. Not witnessing only one voice, but hundreds of voices coming together representing their communities showed me the importance of how solidarity creates change.
Without the unity of communities, I believe the bill I helped organize around, House Bill 1541 (closing the educational opportunity gap) would not have gone as far as it did this year. This internship started with a small photo campaign raising awareness of the All Students Count Act on data disaggregation and at first, I had my doubts about its success, but once the core work of the internship had taken flight, wonders had come.
Collecting thousands of photos in Washington State of students and community members supporting data disaggregation lead to the success of our screening of the documentary Pass or Fail in Cambodia Town. Soon after, our group of interns began mobilizing around the EOGOAC (Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee) recommendations that lead to the creation of HB 1541, this opportunity allowed us for the first time to visit Olympia and testify in front of legislators. This fiery chain reaction all stemmed from a group of young adults, individually who thought they had no voice, but with the support of respected community leaders and mentors, the interns and I had experienced and done work to become valuable contributors and helped pave the way for others to be involved.
Being part of the group that helped pushed House Bill 1541 to where it is now; I can only imagine how far a united community can go. With this imagination, I am going to take the boundless steps ahead in my journey.
Not only studying the way society works and how to serve as an undergrad, I plan to pursue a master’s in social work.
Stemming from education, I will be exploring more opportunities to advocate for social justice and equality while continuing to keep in mind the impact that unity and passion can result in. (end)
Sam Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.