Posted by Alex Dionicio Rodriguez and Queenie Tu
On October 11, 2018, our parent organization, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO), hosted its 43rd annual gala at the San Francisco Design Center. The gala was attended by influential community members, APILO staff and board members, and of course, the Youth Advisory Council. This year, the Youth Advisory Council were approved a spot to speak out about this year’s gala theme, Hope Rising. We worked tirelessly to compose a speech, addressing issues such as the recent Brett Kavanaugh case. We mentioned how we are tired of the systemic oppression that still thrive in our communities, and how we are demanding for change using our voices and platform. This is a message we, as a collective, believe others needed to hear. We want people of older generations to know that even though we are still young, we are strong. We realize the power that we have in our hands, and that we are giving our all in making the community a better and brighter place. This was also an important moment for us, as youth, too, because we were finally heard. It was incredible to be given a chance to speak out about the fights we are battling.
Other than delivering our speech, we also had other duties for the night. YAC members were separated into different sectors of the venue — some of us were stationed at our YAC table where we informed visitors of our program and our purpose, while others sold raffle tickets to attendees. Towards the end of the night, two of our members, Emily and Vivian, even walked to the various tables and helped our program earn some generous donations. While we worked, we met a lot of the APILO board members, as well as be familiarized with people from other organizations. It was definitely a fun night of mingling with the different people there. We all took away something from the night of the gala, whether it’s empowerment from being given a physical platform to speak out from, or if it’s being able to see the diversity of our organization as we socialized. This was definitely a night to remember and we hope to be given the chance to do the same again next year.
Something I enjoyed at the gala was hearing the other interns speech because it made me realize that youth voices are the ones that hit the hardest and matter the most. It also made me realize that it’s important for youth to speak up because we are the future and we can change how our future looks like. -Alex
It was an honor to speak and represent youth, in front of all the wonderful organizations that came to the gala. We, as youth, must continue to let our voices be heard because we are the pioneers of the future! -Emily
I’m eternally grateful for the platform APILO and YAC have provided for me, for youth. The stage was ours when we declared our grievances and expressed our hopes, and from that, grew momentum for us as YAC to continue to prosper and touch the hearts of many. Let’s never stop this movement, for our present and future generations. -Vivian
It was an extraordinary opportunity for us, as YAC members and youth in general, to have had the platform to speak out about our own struggles. I hope that more chances of voicing our opinions are given to young folks so we can shine a brighter light on our perspectives, and help future generations thrive in a more progressive environment. -Queenie
I absolutely loved this year’s gala! An aspect that I appreciated was how YAC got to meet, face-to-face with our APILO family that we don’t often see. However, the night was overwhelmingly empowering, especially being with my peers, standing united on stage demanding the change we want to see. -Thomas
It was really inspiring to see so many people joining together and be able to see the work that our community members have been doing. It was especially wonderful that some of us YAC members were able to speak in front everyone and spread awareness of the community issues we work on to gain support from our communities. -Eujean
It is great to see the other parts of APILO and know what kinds of people are working with us to achieve the same goal. It is empowering to see how much people were at the gala and knowing just how much power we have when we have a united group working to benefit our Asian community. I liked how welcoming and supportive everyone was and glad that many people enjoyed our speech. I feel empowered to know our voice was being heard and valued. –Hua
I loved standing on the stage with all of YAC, and I am super grateful that we have consistently been invited to APILO annual galas and have a platform to share what youth believe. Youth hold the power for change!! -Kathy