Posted by YAC Members

On October 4th, 2019, the Youth Advisory Council attended Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach’s 44th Annual Gala. Just like previous years, we, along with other community organizations, APILO staff, and influential members of the Bay Area, came together to celebrate, commemorate, and honor the work that our parent organization has been doing for the past year. We were also very honored to have the opportunity to speak on stage again as a cohort. Highlighting this year’s gala theme, Strength in Community, we spoke about recognizing the flaws of our country and more importantly, learning to work with one another to create positive change in the world. 

The following are personal opinions of members of our cohort.

Although we, as the youth, were the minority at the gala, sitting at the tables with older attendees was incredibly valuable and fascinating to me. I had the opportunity to sit with a couple attendees who had witnessed the founding of APILO, and had been involved for several decades since. Through our conversations, I was able to learn about the growth of APILO, from its start as a small, grassroots start-up created by API law students, to the larger, community-based organization that it is today. Learning about the history of APILO gave me hope and inspired me to evaluate my role in social justice. Despite all of the challenges and doubts in their mission for social justice, if the founders of APILO were able to create their own solution to a problem that they saw in their communities, why can’t I? – Eujean Doo

This year’s APILO gala was my fourth and last gala as a YAC intern. My first gala was a very different experience than the rest in that the youth interns did not have a space to promote our work to APILO supporters. During my second gala in 2017, we were able to gain 2 minutes for stage time to explain YAC’s purpose which was better than nothing. The next year, our cohort wanted to be bold and proposed a 10 minute speech along with tabling at the gala to the higher-ups. With hard work and persuasion, we reached our goals and performed a powerful speech about domestic violence and the normalization of violence. Like last year, we had the same privileges of that kind of platform. The fact that our cohort was able to advocate for a spot in the gala schedule shows me that action from youth is possible. If we really want space for ourselves, it is up to us to make it. – Kathy Liang

The 2019 APILO gala also marked my fourth and final gala as a YAC intern. With each passing year, I am happy to notice that youth input is growing increasingly more acknowledged within the APILO space. Much too often do we see youth placed in the backburner, even when the work they do are significant and prominent. What started as just a fancy event that the YAC interns attended annually, quickly transformed into a valuable learning experience. It’s exciting because as the years have passed, our responsibilities among the APILO have increased. I know that this is just the beginning of YAC’s powerful influence on adult allies. I look forward for the years to come where youth will be recognized as leaders in all spaces. -Emily Liang

This year’s APILO gala was officially the last gala I’ll attend as a YAC intern. Having experienced two galas during my time here, I can say without a doubt that youth truly have the power and influence we aspire to create as long as we try our hardest. Last year was our first year advocating for a speech slot during the gala, and this year, we were invited to speak for a whopping ten minutes. Seeing our voices be valued in spaces where youth are not typically expected to be in brings hope to me that young folx can shine in the future. I cannot wait to see what next year’s gala will have in store for our future cohort! – Queenie Tu