JACL/OCA Leadership Conference: An Intern’s Eye View

Anoth­er post from our intern, Poon­am Patel, about the JACL/OCA Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence that took place in Wash­ing­ton, DC two weeks ago:

Ear­li­er this month, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the Japan­ese Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens League /Orga­ni­za­tion of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence held in Wash­ing­ton DC. It was a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet with oth­er Asian Amer­i­cans who had a vest­ed inter­est in learn­ing about polit­i­cal and civic issues fac­ing the Asian com­mu­ni­ty as well as devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive ideas to address them.

Most of our time dur­ing the con­fer­ence was spent lis­ten­ing to a wide vari­ety of speak­ers that includ­ed WWII vet­er­ans, pro­fes­sors, com­mu­ni­ty advo­cates, Con­gres­sion­al mem­bers and staffers, as well as eth­nic and main­stream jour­nal­ists. Although each of the speak­ers came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and fields of work, their mes­sage was har­mo­nious to some extent. Almost each mem­ber of every pan­el spoke about the impor­tance of our community’s mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing our community’s issues.

Deepa Iyer, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor spoke on the pan­el titled “Biased Based Inci­dents in the Minor­i­ty Com­mu­ni­ties: His­to­ry to Today” dur­ing which she went through a brief his­to­ry of South Asians in the Unit­ed States fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion relat­ed to bias inci­dents with­in the South Asian pop­u­la­tion, espe­cial­ly fol­low­ing the 9/11 back­lash.

In addi­tion to these pan­els, we were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss with each oth­er devel­op­ment and out­reach ideas in an attempt to build clos­er ties with local OCA and JACL chap­ters as well as oth­er Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions. Each evening we spent vis­it­ing a local land­mark such as the Smith­son­ian Muse­um and Nation­al Japan­ese Amer­i­can Memo­r­i­al to Patri­o­tism Dur­ing World War II after which we had din­ner at a local restau­rant.

The DC Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence was an ide­al forum to con­tin­ue build­ing coali­tions amongst orga­ni­za­tions work­ing with the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty by fos­ter­ing rela­tion­ships between the lead­ers with­in them.