Reflections on Community, APA Heritage Month, and
My Personal Narrative
It is a great honor for me to serve as the acting CEO and President of Families in Schools, a responsibility I do not take lightly. I have served on the Board of Families in Schools since 2019 and hold the mission and vision of this organization close to me. I believe in the promise of public education to change the life trajectories of young people. But I recognize it will require hard work from all of us. In order for us to fulfill our collective vision of a public education system where students have all the opportunities and resources necessary to succeed in school and in life, parents and community must play an active role.
Because of the support of my parents and teachers, this immigrant who showed up in The United States without a word of English thrived and has had the opportunity to serve families and communities as a teacher, a principal, a district administrator, and as a superintendent over the last 25+ years in Los Angeles, California and beyond.
I also feel especially honored to be entering into this role during APA Heritage Month. This is a month for all of us to celebrate the varied and diverse experiences of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States. While our community shares some lived experiences, we are not a monolith and represent roughly 50 ethnic groups. We are the most divided, educationally and economically, of any racial or ethnic group, and the most politically underrepresented. Over the last year, history is repeating itself with anti-Asian hate crimes having increased 339%. The clear line of violence towards Asians in our nation’s history can be traced back from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to the Bellingham Riots, to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, to the murder of Vincent Chin, to today.
Thus, APA Heritage Month is a reminder that we must all share our stories – no matter our racial, cultural, or linguistic background. When we share our stories, we expand others’ perspectives and build empathy in our communities. In the absence of empathy and understanding, we get misunderstanding, stereotypes, and hate. That is why I started a podcast with two friends during the last year. The ‘miseducAsian’ podcast adds to the growing chorus of storytelling about the richness, complexity, and boldness of the Asian-American experience. I hope it inspires you to share your story within your own networks and beyond.
There are many challenges that our public education systems are facing today. But we will only tackle these challenges if we truly see each other. Only by knowing each other beyond the superficiality of the surface can we authentically partner and take advantage of the richness of assets in our families, our schools, and our communities. I look forward to partnering with all of you, our parents and educators, to build the future our students deserve.