July 25, 2022 IN: Community Stories, National, Our Voices, Press Room
SEARAC DAT 2022 was a huge success!
THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for SEARAC’s 2022 Digital Advocacy Training program! This year, we were joined by a diverse cohort of 43 participants hailing from 19 different states and the District of Columbia, with ages ranging from 18 to 53. This is the 22nd year that SEARAC has hosted a Leadership and Advocacy Training, and we have graduated nearly 1,300 participants from the program.
Over the course of the four-day 2022 virtual training, we celebrated the Southeast Asian American legacy, outlined the impact of civic engagement on our communities, and empowered a cohort of advocates to tell their stories to their elected officials.
Day 1 kicked things off with a powerful group reflection activity called “Rooted and Rising.” Moderated by SEARAC Executive Director Quyên Đinh, the group reflected on the challenges facing Southeast Asian American communities, while also uplifting solutions, hopes, and strengths. Some beautiful reflections are shared in the image below, including:
- The power of SEAA culture (food, music, traditions)
- The increasing visibility of SEAA artists, writers, and leaders
- The need for community spaces to promote healing and unity
- How important it is that SEAA stories are revealed through disaggregated data and accurate media portrayals of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities
On Day 2, our rising leaders learned about and discussed Southeast Asian history, while also practicing effective storytelling in a workshop facilitated by SEARAC Director of Field Tuấn DinhJanelle and Executive Director of Stone Soup Fresno, May Gnia Her. The workshops today reminded our participants that if we don’t tell our stories, someone else will – and we began crafting our legislative asks for our upcoming virtual meetings on Capitol Hill.
We also found the common threads in Southeast Asian American experiences in a big group activity facilitated by SEARAC California Program Manager Thuy Do and two interns from our Communications and Development team, Kylie Volavongsa and Janessa Thao.
Day 3 and Day 4 of DAT 2022 were all about our meetings with our elected officials! Participants split up into three issue areas: education, health, and immigration. We then reflected on our personal stories and prepared to share them with legislators, while also connecting those stories to a policy priority, such as the New Way Forward Act or the need for student debt forgiveness. We were also thrilled to be joined by Vattana Peong, Executive Director of The Cambodian Family, to talk about health issues in the Southeast Asian American communities.
In six meetings with the staff of Members of Congress and members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, our participants shared powerful reflections and demands for equity for Southeast Asian American communities. Some key quotes from these meetings include:
- “As the eldest daughter in my family, I help my family fill out forms and make appointments. It is a blessing and also a burden to have this responsibility.”
- “I coach my children’s basketball teams at their schools, and I help out at the food pantry in my community. After adapting to life in the US for more than 40 years, being sent back to Cambodia – where I can barely speak the language and know no one – would be devastating.”
- “I support culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare in the Health Equity and Accountability Act. I believe our community deserves to live free of intergenerational pain and trauma.”
Thank you to the offices of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Ron Kind, Barbara Lee, Rep. Lucy McBath, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and the staff of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus for meeting with SEARAC’s DAT participants!
We are so grateful to all of the guest facilitators, presenters, staff, and — most importantly — the participants who made SEARAC’s 2022 Digital Advocacy Training a huge success. If you missed out on the opportunity to be a part of this program, stay tuned for information on how you can apply to join us in 2023.
And a huge thank you to our sponsor, State Farm, for their continued generous support of SEARAC’s Leadership and Advocacy Training program!