APAICS | From California to Washington, DC
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From California to Washington, DC

2015 09 Dec From California to Washington, DC

My name is Matthew Yamamoto and I am an intern for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. I am currently a senior at the University of California, Riverside studying Political Science. My stay in DC has been for roughly twelve weeks, and I will cherish each and every one. During my time here, my view of the world has been broadened by the numerous events I have attended through APAICS.

During my first week, I was able to hear Pope Francis address a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol. That same week I went to  the White House to witness President Obama greet President Xi at the State Arrival Ceremony for the Chinese President. Both events marked historic visits to the Nation’s capital and I am glad to have witnessed them.

Besides participating in festive events such as those during my first week, I also attended various events and meetings in which my knowledge of public policy was expanded. Whether it was attending the SEARAC commemoration of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act or learning about the advocacy work going on at various NCAPA meetings, I was constantly learning how Asian Pacific Americans are making a difference in public policy. Perhaps the most exciting and enlightening opportunity that APAICS exposed me to was the Young Leaders Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. The summit was a day-long program in the Utah State Capitol that sought to educate and empower the AAPI youth of Utah. I was privileged to go to Salt Lake City and participate in the summit, while also learning how to collaborate with other nonprofits, such as LEAP and JACL, in order to put on a successful program.

While in Utah, I had the chance to see a different perspective of what it means to be Asian American or Pacific Islander. I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, where Asian Americans are one of the largest demographic groups. Listening to the stories and experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from outside of California was truly eye-opening. Whenever I start to make assumptions about the community in the future, I will remember the stories of the college students I met in Utah.

I will also remember the lessons I learned from OCA. This quarter I had the pleasure of taking part in the Sama Sama workshops hosted by OCA for interns every Friday afternoon for a couple hours. These included workshops on identity, networking, community mobilization, and advocacy. I was very touched to see members of another national nonprofit continue to remember their community roots while working at the national stage.

I believe that this spirit of community is also strong at APAICS. Over the time spent in this office, I have come to realize that the grassroots level is not the only crucial organizational level within a community. By helping place community members directly into positions of influence, and ensuring that a community member is at the table when public policy is decided, APAICS plays a crucial part by ensuring that the community is represented at all levels of elected office.

This internship has helped me see what I want to do after I graduate. Many other Political Science majors that I have met are convinced that law school is the only path after graduation, but I now see that my degree and my experience in Washington can lead me down a path of public service. With whatever organization or institution I work with after I graduate, I know that I will serve the APA community to my best ability. This internship has opened up so many doors for my future career, and I am grateful for APAICS for giving me the opportunity.

To learn about internship opportunities with APAICS, please visit: http://apaics.org/summer-interns/.