Asian Americans United focuses more on youth organizing and leadership. There are two main programs at AAU: CYOP, which is the Chinese Youth Organizing Project that works with high school Chinese youth, and the AAU Summer Program which trains high school youth to lead classes for younger students grades 2-7. AAU is also the founder of the annual mid autumn festival, which is entirely run by students and volunteers.
As an intern, my role has been to assist the high school youth and also to act as a teacher and mentor figure for the younger students. The past two weeks have been spent training the high school youth to teach in the next week when we meet the younger students, and facilitating workshops and dialogue about identity and race in America.
My main reason for wanting to get involved with AAU was because I was born and raised in South Philadelphia and Chinatown and the Mid autumn festival was an integral part of my childhood. Despite that, I never was involved with AAU and did not really know what AAU stood for. I wanted to engage with the community and help contribute to building the community and new relationships through working with AAU.
Teaching is definitely a difficult task and involves many skills. A highlight of my experience so far is definitely being able to connect with the students and feel more confident about myself as a mentor figure. When I was their age, I would be asking mentors with the same curious eyes. Now that I am on the mentor side, it feels challenging and foreign to be looked to for answers. I have definitely gained more confidence in my skills as a leader and also as a mentor figure for the students. It also helps that I am from a similar background and am familiar with many of the issues that the students face as students in Philadelphia.
Each day at AAU, we close the day with an appreciation circle. Each student gets a chance to be appreciated by their peers. During my time to shine for the appreciation circle, one student appreciated that I was cool during lunch. It was short statement but it meant a lot to me that I seemed cool to someone. It was also interesting for me to be able to have this influence on someone during lunch as my previous jobs did not allow for bonding experiences over lunch. I look forward to the future appreciations and hopefully more students will think I’m cool.