I have been involved with Beyond Differences since 6th grade at my school and jumped at the chance to join the National Teen Board this Spring. I was excited for Activist Academy because I knew I would be able to learn from a dynamic group of young, social justice activists and receive the training I need to build more inclusive communities across the country.
I came to the National Teen Board and Activist Academy deeply dedicated to building a Stop Anti-Asian Hate curriculum. As an Asian American, the topic is close to my heart as I have seen so many in my community silenced in fear of living proudly. The positive connection with my mentors and fellow Teen Board members at Beyond Differences has given me the courage and platform to speak up and take action in the support of the AAPI community.
During the four days of Activist Academy, we got to hear from a lot of award-winning motivational speakers from across the nation. One of the workshops I loved the most was by Cat Lum. It was so vibrant and I learned so much! In fact, little did I know that I would be meeting my first AAPI teacher here at the Activist Academy. It felt incredible to see an Asian American woman with such power and conviction that drew her power from her AAPI experience. She taught us how to craft our stories and create a life’s purpose statement. I learned to dive deep to find the “What” and “Why” of my purpose. By understanding my own sense of purpose I found new strengths and points of connection with others. Cat brought up a guiding question which I find so powerful: “What needs in the world activate me? What issues or problems in the world do I feel energized to address?” I knew immediately that for me, it is my voice in my AAPI community and finding ways to bring us out of isolation.
Now, I am so ready to share my story and what I have learned with other teens and middle schoolers. I feel prepared to build a curriculum that models a culture of belonging at our partnered schools across the nation. It is truly an empowering moment, and I hope my work on the Beyond Differences National Teen Board will uplift and inspire other youth to work fiercely to protect and include others.
Beyond Differences National Teen Board
The misson of Beyond Differences® is to inspire students nationwide to end social isolation and create cultures of belonging for everyone. We envision a world where all youth are accepted, valued, and included no matter their differences. Beyond Differences® offers FREE SEL curriculum, lesson plans, and supplies’ to middle school educators all across the nation. Bring our programs to your school today!