Featuring…Gloria Chaleunsy

APEN is celebrating our 20 years of “Generating Power” at the Oakland Museum on October 5th. As a lead up to our event, this May, Asian-Pacific Island (API) Heritage month, we will highlight the vast wealth of API Heritage in APEN’s own history. We will feature a different former APEN staff, board or member each week.

GloriaFull Name: Gloria Chaleunsy Sagala

Years you were involved with APEN: 1997-Present

Position at APEN: Asian Youth Advocates (AYA) member, Summer Staff and now Community Leader.

What is your proudest APEN memory? My proudest moment in APEN was when I ‘graduated’ from AYA. It was my last summer as a youth member in AYA. I was able to showcase all our accomplishments over just 4 years. When I looked over the crowd, I saw how happy and proud our families and communities were and that made me proud. The most memorable part of the ceremony was when we performed a short skit of our victory in the Multilingual Warning Campaign. I remember intercepting a hug from my mom after the skit and she asked “you did that?”…
Our theme for the 20th anniversary is “generating power.” What do you believe are the most important ways of “generating power?” I believe the most important way of “generating power” is to gain knowledge and spread it like the plague (without killing people off, of course). Gaining knowledge and translating it to a language that will be understood is what APEN does best! APEN faces so many barriers, such as language, age, and educational background; and they still manage to deliver the message. Once the knowledge is gained, it’s up the individual to continue spreading APEN’s work and be apart of the movement…

How has 20 years of APEN impacted the API Movement? APEN is a powerful organization in the API movement. In the 16 years that I have participated in APEN, I have seen the growth and changes that were made over 20 years. I recognize that APEN has expanded their campaign from local to statewide issues. I believe the training, consultations and presence of APEN in the community, impacted the API movement by justifying [EJ] campaigns to API grassroots groups.

What would your advice to a younger API activist be? When I joined APEN through their Asian Youth Advocates, I never thought that my opinion or voice mattered. As part of where I come from, I was groomed to be quiet and submissive. If you have a passion or an idea that you feel is impossible or seems like no one cares; there is someone out there who will champion that passion and thought. My passion was teaching and informing my family about health and environmental management. APEN gave me the voice and courage to empower other people. The staff found ways to draw out my best attributes (even the ones I thought I didn’t have) and helped mold me into the person I am today…Every youth should find an organization that believes in their passion because it can help mold them into who they want to be.

Why should people support APEN’s work? People should support APEN’s work because their campaigns affect more than just the API communities and low-income communities. Their campaigns are a step to a global change. I champion APEN’s work and spread the word because it’s for the betterment of all communities and humanity.  We need APEN to work towards a green environment where we live, work, and play!

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