by Karen Yeung, APEN Civic Engagement Coordinator
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, when we take time to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. From the first Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants to the newcomers, all yearn for an ideal life with democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality. They went through hardship to make possible a better life for their family and the next generation.
Our spring statewide civic engagement program also started this month. APEN’s canvassing team is made up of a group of Asian American immigrants. They carry the history and culture from their homeland and also care about their communities that they are living in right now.
Some of the canvassers shared that their home country does not have democracy — people living there have no right to vote. They know people in their community, even their own parents, are unlikely to vote after immigrating to the U.S because they have not voted before and do not know how to vote. This is why we started the outreaching campaign in-language: Our bilingual canvassers could provide language support to let voters know more about the measures and educate voters about environmental justice.
At the beginning of the last campaign, I asked the canvassers to share why they are canvassing with APEN and write their answer down on the leaves pictured here. These leaves represent how our background and history (the roots) support our visions (the leaves).
This month we are outreaching to Asian American voters again to talk to them about issues that impact our communities like education and housing. We have a team of 18 canvassers, and six of them are new. We are so grateful to have a group of experienced canvassers and new canvassers bringing new energy to the work every day. This way, experienced canvassers can pass their knowledge to the newer canvassers. Through the campaign not only are the voters being educated, but also our new canvassers, who are from a younger generation, are able contribute back to their community.