As a student, I had been organizing in organizations such as the Asian Student Union and Students against Apartheid. An important part of the politics was to be connected to community organizing, whether that was community organizations in the International District, or with the South African students attending the University of Washington, or other anti-racism movements. When I was a student, I experienced the power that comes from successfully organizing as a group to accomplish something.

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I started teaching at Seattle Central Community College, which has a very active Local, 1789 of the American Federation of Teachers. Right away, colleagues encouraged me to join the “Part-Time Caucus.” The caucus was very helpful because we could talk with each other about things we were encountering and strategize how to approach the administration. I did not feel so lonely and on my own.

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I serve on the national AFT’s standing committee of Human and Civil Rights. I am the only Asian, and I think I might be the only person from a community college. I respect what I am learning from the other members of the committee, but I worry a little bit about how I can make my role meaningful. Definitely, I do not want be a token member.

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There are not [many Asian Americans] in my local’s leadership positions. Maybe some are reluctant to be in the hot seat. Others are lacking the training, the mentorship, or the encouragement to step forward. They might be discouraged from thinking and presenting themselves as leaders. I came up through the ranks in a shared position, when I was a co-vice president for my campus with another individual. That was a positive way to increase my confidence and to learn what it meant to serve in that position.

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I think that what keeps me motivated is believing that seemingly smaller actions connect to a larger movement for justice and change.

I teach about history and one of the things that I emphasize with my students is when people are in those moments of making history, rarely do we know it. “Make the history!” is what I say. Make it!

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