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.