Four years ago, I never imagined that I would be where I am todaynow.
I moved out across the country to Oakland from New York City to start a new job; I hadI’ve never visited California, let alone Oakland, before and had no community or networknetworks in place before I moved out here. Like other transplants, I was hoping to make connections with people who held similar values as memine. TFor me, his meant finding people who valueI valued relationships with people who are authentic, have a strong desire to serve their community, and work with humor and joy.
On top of seeking personal connections, my move to Oakland coincided with another personal journey —- to learn about my Chinese-American heritage, and get closer to the stories and experiences of my parents and their ancestors. Whether it came from the desireneed to feelbe connected with my now distant family or a longing to understand my roots, or both, I’m am glad that I embarked on thiswent down this journey to recover a part of my identity that I felt I lost in pursuit of the American dream.
This is a journey manythat a lot of immigrants go through —-- the forceful separation from one’sof your cultural history to assimilate to American society, and shedding the all stereotypes or marks of being a foreigner., even though my physical traits would mark me as the “perpetual foreigner” while still being propped up as the “model minority”.
Community is a hard thing to define, but is in so valuable and near unbreakableonce it’s formed and harder to take away once formed. PeopleWe yearn for a place to belong, to connect with each other, to understand each other’s stories and experiences, and to do good in the world. After several years, I was able to find my community, my network of friends and peers whom I couldcan rely on and grow together with. It was through thisa groupcommunity of like-minded API (Asian & Pacific Islander) folks that I was able to rediscover my roots and open up myself up to new people, new experiences, and new stories, and eventually share mythis story with you here today.
I founded API Giving Project with a group of friends because I saw that other people were yearning for a community that celebrates our cultural heritage and serves our community. Donating money can be an isolating event, a singular transaction that doesn’t lead to any opportunities to explore or examine the challenges our communities face. In addition, nonprofits focused on API issues oftensometimes struggle to find the capacity to educate donors because they are hyper-focused on addressing intensely focused onhave the most important job —- to address the systemic issues that affectplague our individual and collective Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
API Giving Project isWe are creating a place for people to learn from each other, from the wide breadth of knowledge and experiences we all bring to the table, and togetheras a collective, we can move the needle to address the inequities in our communities. By fostering this exchange with each other, we can learn educate ourselves about, and support, the grassroot organizations working tirelessly in our communities and help tackle the challengesissues they struggle with on a day-to-day basis. Through collective action, we can take ontackle the issues that affect our API communities, such as addressing anti-Asian violence, increasing access to mental health treatment, preventing sexual violence and exploitation, promoting API arts and culture, protecting workers’ rights, humanizing the immigration process, and much more.
I want to extend to you the same hand that I wish was extended to me when I moved to Oakland four years ago. We hope that you’ll join the API Giving Project, and our community because you’ll always be welcomedwelcomed in our community. We are stronger as a community, one that celebrates the diversity of all the cultures and groups that fall under the API umbrella, and together we can driveparticipate in community change.