Forging, understanding, empowering and leading are very powerful words. These specific verbs represent core values of many individuals I have had the privilege to interact and work with here on University of Maryland’s campus. They are the members of the Asian American Student Union (AASU); student activists who are proactively engaged in bringing fairness and representation, and of course the advisors who oversee and guide us along the way.
This past weekend marked AASU’s 11th annual F.U.E.L. Leadership conference under the umbrella theme of “FUEL the Dream”. Aside from working on the planning committee of this conference, I had the privilege of working with a staff and a volunteer from NAKASEC to conduct a workshop on the DREAM Act.
Our goal was to portray the normalcy of being an immigrant here in the U.S. and how arbitrary it is to become persons without status—as undocumented citizens. We segued into our well-planned skit after our presentation of the DREAM Act. After the skit was presented, Camden Lee, the VP of Advocacy from AASU, utilized a portion of the workshop to support the Maryland DREAM Youth Committee‘s Index Card campaign.
This campaign is directed to the two Maryland Senators, Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and seeks to have students write postcards to the Senators urging them to move forward with passing the DREAM Act. Each postcard was carefully decorated by students with a personalized message as to why the passage is crucial. The postcards are to be hand delivered to each of the Senators on December 1st.
Then we passed around a sheet of paper asking each student to write a sentence on what it’s like to be an immigrant. A few responses were “fighting until people know that I’m a true American too,” “being different,” and “being a part of a diverse group of amazing individuals”. This activity aimed at discovering the intimate thoughts and feelings of being in the immigrant community.
Through this workshop, I was able to take away the meaning of collaboration. The make up of people in the room was a snapshot of what America is — diverse. There were U.S. citizens working to better the current situation for a friend, a naturalized citizen, like myself, working together with those who are negatively affected by the hostile and unfriendly legislations and those who have lost status due to unforeseen circumstances in life but not giving up but leading the effort for change.
The unity among everyone at the conference moved and empowered me. Despite the reality of our political climate, the gathering brought more hope than ever for our journey that is still ahead us. I was able to feel and realize that it is through this shared vision and action that amazing changes can happen.
As a second year participant of the F.U.E.L. Leadership Conference, I left with a sense of better understanding and interconnectedness with all those who attended. I think that’s what a community is all about. Yes, we have grand objectives and goals at the end of the day, but simply put, the relationships and connections you make is what really counts. For me, more than anything, I left this year’s conference with a better sense of myself within the APA community, sharing experiences and strengthening the community and asking myself if I have been fueling my own dreams and aspirations as to not give up.
For information on what is going on with Congress, the DREAM Act and how you can help, please visit http://bit.ly/novdream
Already know what’s happening? Start making your calls to Senator Reid by using the suggested script and call-in number below provided by DREAM University – http://on.fb.me/ourdreamnow
To Senator Reid (866-877-5552):
“Hi, my name is ________________. I´m calling to Congratulate Senator Reid for his reelection and to remind him that we will hold him accountable for his promise to bring the DREAM Act for a vote during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. Thank You!”
Afterwards, update your status:
¨I called Senator Reid at 1 866- 877- 5552 and asked him to bring up the DREAM Act for a vote during the 111th Congress. Please do the same.¨