I have never been particularly interested or involved in civic engagement. I’ve only engaged myself when it was a specific assignment from a teacher, or when I was bored. I’ve casually glanced at political headlines, but I have never taken the time to thoroughly read political articles. I came across a BuzzFeed article discussing how Asian Americans have the potential to play a huge role in the elections because of our growing electorate. I decided then that perhaps instead of being passive about civic engagement, I should take a more active approach by joining a related student organization or by voting for the first time. I started following more news outlets such as the New York Times, TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, BBC News, and NPR just to name a few. Whenever I had time, I would read as much as I could to stay updated. Furthermore, I recently discovered Vox, and loved it.
The steps I’ve taken to be more proactive are small but I had to start somewhere. It’s only the beginning and there’s a long way to go. I’ve committed to trying my best to be involved in the political process as much as I can. I want to take advantage of the fact that we can and should choose to take part in the political world. I believe that if we all joined together, we have the possibility to change certain issues and change how society perceives Asian Americans.
Since realizing that I want to up my activism, I’ve taken steps for myself to be more involved in civic engagement. My college has a variety of organizations related to civic engagement such as Democracy Matters and Amnesty International. Although I will be a senior in the next academic year, I will do my best to participate in these clubs before I graduate.
One step I have taken is signing up to receive emails from the political candidate of my choice for the upcoming big election. Although the e-mails are mostly asking for donations, it also provides information reminding me to vote in the primaries. The New York primaries have recently passed, and unfortunately I did not get the chance to vote. I missed the deadline to affiliate myself with a political party and was disappointed that I couldn’t go out to vote that day. The heavy academic load along with multiple extracurriculars at that time consumed my days causing my civic engagement pursuit to take a backseat. I’ve gotten particularly well at being able to balance school and club meetings. However, the addition of this new activity threw me off and I questioned whether or not I signed up for too much. In the end, I concluded that since this was something I cared deeply about, I would be able to make time for it. On the other hand, my friend who was in the Democratic Party, did not even bother to vote no matter how much I pestered her to do it. This is all the more reason why we must encourage young Asian American voters to speak up and have their voices heard.
My involvement in civic engagement has just started and I’ve been trying hard to build awareness of the world around me. I’ve gone to a seminar discussing the political conflicts and violence in Northern Ireland. I’ve discovered this amazing feature on Google where if you search up any of the political candidates, you can find all the statements they’ve made on various social issues. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve only just started my journey down the path of being civically engaged. AAMUnite is my first real step towards coming out of my comfort zone. I’ve always felt like I’ve been in the background, absorbing information and being a passive participant in political issues. Now, I want to fully get myself through the door and step up. It’s time to do something and for me - that starts with AAMUnite.