At this point, I am past the half way mark in my internship at the Chinese Progressive Association and time is going by really fast. In the past few weeks, I’ve become immersed in the issues facing Chinatown residents on a daily basis such as the redistricting that is happening within the community and the changes in immigration and undocumented immigrant policies like the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration policy S.B. 1070 that are relevant to the demographic here in Chinatown. But besides learning about the issues, I believe I’ve grasped the importance of the Chinese Progressive Association within the context of the Asian American community. In the beginning, I found it harder to connect these struggles with real people and faces, but by actually being within the nonprofit, I see more and more how CPA is necessary for these individuals and how it is an integral part of their lives. People come to CPA for many different reasons–to get help translating something from English to Chinese, to have someone help them file a complaint against an employer or landlord that is treating them unfairly, to socialize, to organize together, etc.
By researching about the Chinatown library that was demolished more than fifty years ago as well as the more recent efforts of the community to create a new library, I’m building a bridge between the past and present in terms of Boston Chinatown’s history. I’m also refining my ability to research and understand the complexities that come with creating a sustainable, public recreation center that I had never truly considered before. Though having a public library is something often taken for granted, in reality there are many aspects to think about before you start constructing anything. You need an area accessible to both pedestrians and cars, funding sources, cooperation and collaboration between politicians and residents, a concrete vision that is agreed upon by all, and several other aspects. In fact, the task is still so daunting that for now a reading room has been created in place of a full scale library; see more information here: http://www.chinatownlantern.org/.
Simply by seeing all the detailed planning happening around me and sitting in on staff meetings, I have gained not only a better insight into the inner functioning of a nonprofit, specifically CPA, but also the mindset and thought that is behind the actions taken.
Besides changing the way I think, I’ve helped write articles for CPA’s newsletter and helped edit the articles, which ties into my interest in English and writing. This is an experience that I haven’t had before, for which I am grateful. Similarly, seeing how different ethnic cultures interact within CPA, reinforces my interest in International and Global Studies, because I consider IGS a study that involves understanding the range of diverse thinking that occurs between countries.
These skills will definitely be important in the future, on campus and throughout my experiences beyond Brandeis. Learning about the local politics of Boston and how they affect myself and others gives me more insight into the struggles people are facing daily, which is important in this diverse world. Knowing how to plan and analyze data will help when I conduct research and when I am in a leadership position.
I was recently fortunate to participate in a lobby day related to the REAL Bill at the Massachusetts State House, a bill created to give workers who work through temporary employment agencies the right to know who exactly they are working for and the amount they are being paid with greater transparency. Although my district legislator was not able to meet with me directly, I was glad to pass on the information to one of his aides.
I hope to continue learning as much as I can before my internship comes to an end, best of luck to everyone else in the coming weeks!