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Movement within a Movement

Catherine Eusebio explains her journey to Dream Summer

Catherine EusebioCatherine Eusebio is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as an AAPI Women leader.

I’m not a minority. I’m a movement.

I came of age at a time when it was dangerous to be an undocumented student. In the early stages of the immigrant youth movement, the ever-present risk of deportation forced only the bravest of us to meet in secret as we sought to support each other in our pursuit of higher education. But since then, this movement has evolved. Not only are we more powerful and organized, but this movement also challenges the notion of belonging and worth in America as immigrants and more broadly as people of color.

But within this movement, I often experienced being the only Asian American – a “minority within a minority.” Among other barriers, my community expressed a pronounced, paralyzing fear for deportation that could result from political involvement. While many youth were interested in participating in efforts advancing immigration reform, their families pressured them to avoid taking the risk. Therefore, I devoted myself efforts that would engage Asian American communities. At the same time, I encouraged immigrant youth-led efforts to be more sensitive, and inclusive of non-Latino community members.

But with those priorities, a gendered lens took a back seat. I often noticed in which women were hard at work, behind the scenes. Men, on the other hand, would be the most visible or more often regarded as leaders.

This is why I’m proud to lead Dream Summer with the support of UCLA Labor Center and Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Dream Summer is a national internship program that is led by and for immigrant youth. Not only are we raising the visibility and uplifting the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islanders within this movement; we are also intentional about the inclusion and visibility of LGBTQ and women leaders.

Now in its third year, Dream Summer has proven to create hundreds of champions of change, each one making an impact in their local community.

I am honored to be recognized as a Champion of Change. As women and as members of the Asian American community in particular, we must continue to fight, challenge, and build opportunities for those coming after us.

Catherine Eusebio is a Social Justice Fellow as Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and a board member of United We Dream.