You don’t always need to have a penthouse office or a flashy car to call the shots and make a difference. At the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative), we know it really is the interns who run our world (our office). Having a high-caliber intern class in the office has a significantly positive impact on our work. Interns here are responsible for assisting the staff in researching a wide range of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues, including education, health, sustainable neighborhoods, economic development, civil rights, and labor and employment. In addition, interns help write policy memos and proposals, coordinate events, develop social media and blog posts, and conduct outreach to national and local AAPI organizations, elected officials, and ethnic media outlets.
Meet our current class of summer interns.
Growing up in San Francisco I was in a bubble, always surrounded by Asian Americans, whether at school, soccer practice, or church. I didn’t realize how privileged I was until I went to the Midwest for college and learned more about AAPIs in a historical and civil rights context. I discovered just how diverse our community is through all of the unique student organizations on campus. Working at the
Initiative has helped me understand this diversity even further through its highlighting of the needs of groups such as Pacific Islanders, South Asians, and Southeast Asians, who often get left out of the AAPI narrative. Being able to learn about all of the different subgroups myself has been great, but then taking that knowledge and advocating on behalf of them to officials at other federal agencies and departments, friends, and colleagues, and then back to my campus community, is what makes my work feel so important.
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had hoped to learn more about the history and issues surrounding the AAPI community once I started college in Washington, D.C. Yet, it wasn’t enough for me to just learn in a classroom setting, I also wanted to create change. At the Initiative, I’ve learned more about the critical role data disaggregation plays in serving the AAPI community. I’ve always known that different subgroups have different needs, but it’s been important to be able to back up anecdotes with hard data.
I grew up in Hawai’i, the only state with a predominantly Asian American and Pacific Islander population. Accordingly, both the AAPI culture and the community’s unique challenges were simply a part of my everyday life, which I often took for granted. Only when I left home did I realize that, in the context of most of the country, my home community was indeed unique. In fact, the AAPI community is underrepresented in all leadership positions across the federal government. When I recognized this shortcoming, I wanted to become an advocate. Interning with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders offered me an opportunity to better understand the issues that our community faces and to take tangible steps to tackle them. While in meetings with senior-level officials, I’m not just a fly on the wall; I’m an active participant with a valued voice, contributing in a meaningful way. I not only get to witness public service, I also get to serve. This internship is an enriching and rewarding experience, and I’m honored to work with the Initiative to better the lives of my family, friends, community, and the nation.
Note: In June, Andrew was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott of Texas to serve on the University of Houston System’s Board of Regents.
Are you or is someone you know interested in interning at the Initiative? If so, please visit our website for more information. The deadlines for each semester are as follows:
- Dates of program: September through December
- Submission deadline: July 15
- Dates of program: January through May
- Submission deadline: Oct. 1
- Dates of program: May or June through July or August
- Submission deadline: March 15
Thanks also to all the interns who have worked with us in the past. We miss and are proud of you all!
Diana Yu is the chief of staff at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.