Nearly 50 Advocates Educate Members of Congress on the Southeast Asian American Refugee Legacy, Experience, and Resilience

SEARAC recently had the honor of leading our 20th annual Leadership and Advocating Training for 48 Southeast Asian American advocates and allies who represented 16 states and 31 organizations from across the country. Participants learned how to harness the power of their lived experiences and effectively advocate for change in their communities. In 45 legislative meetings, our milestone cohort courageously used their voices and personal truths to speak with their members of Congress about the immigration, education, and health issues that are impacting Southeast Asian American communities in the United States.
Here are a few stories they shared:
“I am very healthy, but last year I actually made time to get a physical. I found out I have hyperthyroidism, and I got surgery this year. And just navigating through that … I am college educated, I have a good career, I have a flexible job so I can go to these appointments, I have friends in the medical industry, so I can ask them questions. And I think about how anyone else can do this if they don’t have x, y, z? If you’re working an hourly wage job, how do you take time off because you need to put food on the table? I’m ethnically Lao, and my communities are poor, and my dad is fortunate enough to speak English, but even then, when he goes to the doctor with my aunts, he comes back and asks me, ‘What did this mean?'” -Lily (Houston, Texas)
“On the mainland, you could be the only person of your race in a class. In Hawaii, it’s different. It’s so multicultural. There are so many different races: Spanish, Pacific Islander, Vietnamese. In my school, the Chinese teacher, Japanese teacher, would serve as translators for students who did not speak the language. Students are actually very helpful to each other, too. Last year, we had one student who was Vietnamese and didn’t speak any English, and another one of our students worked with her. By the end of the year, she was able to speak English.”
 -Shaun (Honolulu, Hawaii)

To read more about our LAT 2019 participants in their own words, follow SEARAC (@searac) on Instagram and browse our newly launched #humansofsearac photo series.

Click here to check out an interview with one LAT 2019 group after their visit with the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi!

Last call for SEARAC T-shirts

World Refugee Day coincided with this year’s LAT, and as part of the celebration, we launched our T-shirt campaign last month. Tomorrow is the last day to order your shirt, which is available for $30 in three designs: Made by Refugees, Made by Immigrants, and I Stand with SEARAC. Unisex, women’s, and youth sizing available. Buy your shirt today and support our Moving Mountains 2019: A Southeast Asian American Equity Summit. Click here for more information.

Thank you to our generous platinum and gold sponsors for making LAT 2019 possible!

Special thanks to the National Education Association for serving as our host venue!