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Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Leadership Workshop

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By Christina Kwan, YKCC Coordinator


It was an early rainy October Saturday morning. Many students would still be sleeping at 9:00AM, however there were many students who were interested in participating in a workshop that would benefit themselves and their respective RSOs gathered in the UMass Campus Center. Nearly every Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) RSO sent two representatives to attend the first United Asia Learning Resource Center and Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center Leadership workshop. There were also student leaders from Smith College, from the 5 College Pan Asian Network, who attended which brought our total count to about 30 students.

Amnat Chittaphong, who is a doctoral student at UMASS, was our energetic facilitator who got the group riled up about being a leader. However, that was not the only thing he did. He allowed us to discover who we are as a student leader and what kind of change we can bring to our campus as an APIDA. After the workshop, one student highlighted that his identity is very important to himself and to his community.

Many students said that this workshop provided them with the knowledge on how to lead and how to communicate better with others. Through various activities and games, we sought to discover what kind of communication strategies worked effectively with different people and how we should interact with other groups as well. For example, students had to learn a card game without the ability to speak. They then had to play the game several times while using other forms of communication as well as demonstrate great patience.

Throughout the course of the day, students were given many opportunities to speak about their personal experiences about racism and diversity. Amnat first broke the ice with a very compelling emotional story about how he changed his major and direction of his life dedicating himself to social justice. Students began to open up with personal stories of racism and how they overcame their struggles. It was a time to reflect and a time to grow. One student reflected on how RSOs are meant to do more than just dances and cultural events, as there are many social thoughts and ideas to explore.

Our community is stronger with the newly found leadership skills that were developed that day. With our new skills, we can continue to strive for a better and more equitable world out there, and to create a happier place for everyone to be able to work and live in.

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