On Friday, May 20, the White House Office of Public Engagement and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the Department of Education, convened more than 100 students and young leaders at the White House to discuss critical issues affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community – civic engagement, pathways to public service, immigration, mental health, bullying prevention, and data disaggregation.
Young leaders learned about the various pathways to public service, from internships and volunteer opportunities to positions in the federal government and Congressional offices.
"It's paramount that we have people like you that are thinking about...the impact to communities not only in the public sector, but in the private sector," Asim Mishra, Chief of Staff at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), said. He encouraged students to get into public service so that their experiences could "inform and make you a more unique" person.
Young leaders also learned that AAPI voters have the lowest voter registration and turnout rates of all ethnic groups. Leaders from community-based organizations urged AAPI youth to engage their communities to not only vote in the upcoming presidential election, but in state and local elections across the board.
Throughout the briefing, participants had the opportunity to not only engage with White House staff and community leaders, but also to engage with one another around these issues. Whether it was about strategies to amplify the #ActToChange campaign or discussions about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy announced in 2012, my fellow young leaders and I were eagerly engaged in these critical issues.
As an E3! Ambassador, for the last nine months, my cohort and I have been educating, engaging, and empowering communities around key issues: education, mental health, pathways to public service, and immigration.
It has been an incredible experience working with my fellow E3! Ambassadors and other young leaders across the country, as well as with Administration officials. This convening has been a perfect way to cap off this experience – I am inspired by all my fellow young leaders and ready to continue these conversations and efforts in our communities!
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee is an E3! Ambassador at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the Department of Education. Lee is also a White House Champion of Change recipient.