Do you ever wonder who the people at NAKASEC and our affiliate centers, KRC and KRCC, are? Not just the staff, but the community members, volunteers, interns and board members? Well they are the ones who keep us grounded, help drive our campaigns and keep us motivated. You may have seen our seniors on the State Capitol fighting against budget cuts, our young people dancing, singing and shouting out for youth rights, our children playing poongmul (Korean drums) at rallies and marches.
Well, in order for you to get to know us better, we are rolling out our #meetNAKASEC Fridays where we will profile one person within our network. We hope you enjoy!
Q: What’s your name?
A: When my mother was pregnant with me, her first ultra sound showed a boy, so that’s what my parents anticipated. To their complete surprise, especially after amassing an entire baby boy wardrobe in blue, the child intended to be named Juan Carlos was born a girl. Thus, my name changed to Carla Kristina Lara Navoa.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Manila, Philippines where I spent the first five years of my life until coming to the U.S. in 1994. I currently live in the great(est) city of Chicago, IL.
Q: How did you get involved with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC?
A: I first met folks from KRCC when another organization in which I am an organizer, the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), initiated a collaboration with FYSH (Fighting Youth Shouting for Humanity) on a campaign around the federal DREAM Act targeting Senator Mark Kirk. In the first meeting, we engaged in such a creative, thought-provoking, and energetic brainstorm session. After that, I was hooked! I found out at how passionate and dedicated FYSH members are to the work that they do. My interactions with them have totally changed the way I see high school students and their ability to get things done in the community!
Q: Why do you do the work that you do with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC?
A: I love FYSH! I wish I belonged to a group like them when I was in high school. Part of why I wanted to work as a youth organizer for KRCC is to be able to provide the support and guidance for youth I never had when I was their age; I want to be someone they can come to about issues like getting to college, dealing with parents, or even finding alternative pathways for the students who are undocumented. I’m there to serve as a resource and as a friend.
Q: Tell us of a memorable moment with KRC, KRCC and/or NAKASEC
A: One of my most memorable moments in the short time I’ve been with KRCC occurred during the FYSH retreat when we spent an action-packed weekend in Sheboygan, WI to plan for this year’s campaign focus. A few FYSH members and I stayed up past lights out discussing various ills in society (from NAFTA to gun-control to the factory farming industry) and actions to call attention to these issues. If there’s one thing I appreciate about people, it’s when they’re willing to engage in these critical and necessary conversations anytime, anywhere. Even in Sheboygan.
Q: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why?
A: I recently finished reading Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama, which I think helped me to reel from the flu I had last week much more quickly. I wish I could trade places with her by going back in time to the early 1960s when Black Power movement leaders like Malcolm X convened in her family’s tiny apartment in Harlem. Her home came to be known as “Grand Central Station” because of all the activists, artists, and community members that passed through everyday. I can only imagine the conversations that took place there. I love being around people who share an unwavering passion for social justice. And, I have this distinct image of Yuri in my head staying up into the wee hours of the night, once all guests have left or fell asleep, meticulously crafting personalized letters to incarcerated movement leaders to express her support. To me, she embodies whole-hearted commitment.
Q: What is your comfort food and why?
A: Sweet Potato Fries. Because it always hits the spot.
Follow Carla on Twitter – @carlapulapu!
Meet other folks at KRC, KRCC and NAKASEC!