JACL Holds Third Youth Leadership Summit

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CHICAGO — The JACL National Youth/Student Council (NY/SC) held its third Youth Leadership Summit in Chicago this past weekend, sponsored by State Farm and Southwest Airlines, the official airlines of the JACL.

The program aims to build a network of JACL youth leaders who understand local, regional and national Asian Pacific American issues, and have the skills necessary to become effective advocates for their community. More than 30 local and regional participants attended the program.

The Chicago summit focused on connecting youth in the JACL Midwest District to each other and to the JACL on a national level. Several informative workshops were held:

• Christine Munteanu, Ford Program coordinator for JACL, led participants through a series of exercises that explored personal identity, privilege, and oppression as the foundation for community activism, civic engagement and social justice.

• A session highlighting the needs of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Asian Pacific American community was facilitated by Liz Thomson, assistant director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

• Stephanie Nitahara, JACL Midwest District governor, gave a “JACL 101” presentation that summarized the JACL’s history of activism and advocacy; outlined the organization’s program pillars and priorities; and explained the structure of the organization at its various levels.

• Peter Hyunh, State Farm agent, presented a workshop on “Buying Your First Car,” which offered useful tips and sound advice for a young first-time car buyer.

Participants left the summit feeling energized about their community, eager to get involved with the JACL, and more informed about the issues facing various APA communities.

Matthew Farrells, NY/SC chair, stated, “The caliber of the participants, the passion and determination of the council members, and the commitment of staff made this summit a huge success. I believe the NY/SC Leadership Summit program is essential to cultivating new leaders within our community.”

Sponsors of the event say they see the value in helping to train the next generation of leaders.

“State Farm is proud to support the National Youth/Student Council Youth Leadership Summits,” said Leslie Moe Kaiser, State Farm corporate relations manager. “We applaud the JACL for its investment in youth leadership training as together we nurture the passion, issues awareness and skills necessary to lead the changing Asian American Pacific Islander community.”

Kim Delevett, community affairs and grassroots manager for Southwest Airlines, stated, “Southwest Airlines was honored to help bring together the delegates for the JACL Youth Leadership Summit in Chicago. We hope that these young leaders bring their shared knowledge and infectious enthusiasm back home to serve their communities. Thank you, JACL, for providing the forum for our future leaders to stretch and grow personally and professionally.”

Two additional summits are being planned for 2012.

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