Written and Photos by Maddy Park, DC Summer Intern
Hi hi! My name is Madeline Park, but I also go by Maddy. I am a rising junior at American University, majoring in Political Science and Asian, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies (APDS). I am so excited to join the AALEAD DC Team as the Summer Programs Intern this year and to support our mission of empowering AAPI youth!
I grew up in Bergen County in North Jersey which is about a thirty minutes drive from NYC on a good day. While the parts of my county that border NYC are more diverse, I grew up in an area that was noticeably less diverse. It was hard being a person of color there and I struggled to accept myself for many years. Not only am I AAPI but I also am multiethnic: Thai, Korean, and Chinese. We feel the need to fit into boxes in order to fit in and it was difficult coming to terms with how that translated into my multiethnic identity. Upon coming to university, I found a welcoming AAPI community which allowed me to learn to accept myself and become proud of who I am and where I come from.
One of my APDS professors at AU recommended AALEAD to me because it overlaps with my passions for education and identity development, specifically with the AAPI community. I have the gift of working with first year college students by supporting them in acclimating to college life at AU, holding dialogues about self care, educational empowerment, and intersectionality. I also work with AAPI student organizations like AU’s Korean Student Association as the current Outreach Coordinator and AU’s Asian American Student Union as the Family Program Director in the past, building campus community connections as well as external connections. Facilitating a healthy and supportive environment for AAPI youth is incredibly important to me and I am excited to grow with AALEAD and support future generations!
In my free time, I love spending time with my friends and family, visiting the DC museums, singing, and spending time with my Shihtzu Bichon, Chewie. I am so grateful for the opportunity to give back to the AAPI community and to work with AAPI youth this summer with AALEAD!