Hi all! My name is Maggie and I recently joined the AALEAD team as the Maryland High School Coordinator a couple months ago. Finding and building community drives a lot of what I try to do which is why I appreciate ending up here at AALead.
Some backstory on me, I recently graduated from William & Mary with a double major in Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Studies and History. I came into college feeling a lot of existentialism in who exactly I was and what my purpose could be. As a mixed race Asian American growing up in rural Virginia, there were a lot of nuances to my identity that I was unsure how to navigate so I wanted to be that cliche in college where I could “find myself.”
In college I joined multicultural organizations, advocacy initiatives and even became an Asian & Pacific Islander American (APIA) studies major. Each of those Asian American spaces helped me learn more about myself but also helped me understand the multitude of different meanings of what it means to be Asian American. I realized that I didn’t have to succumb to the stereotypes to be validated- I just was.
Alongside my education, the most important thing I gained out of my college experience was the relationships that I built not only with my peers but with mentors and professors. I found myself and my community, but also I learned about how much more there was to understanding our place in the world and the systems that control us. After graduation I wanted to keep forming relationships that could foster understanding and growth, and that’s how I ended up coming to AALead in the middle of the pandemic.
It’s definitely been an interesting time starting youth work when there’s several crises happening in our country right now, let alone globally. As a young person myself I view all the work that needs to be done structurally and feel overwhelmed. That being said, I feel joy knowing that I can do some ground work by creating a space for the youth to build community and build relationships with one another during this hard time. Even though just a couple months of programs have passed, I’ve already learned a lot from the youth and am excited to keep growing alongside them.