By Kent Marume
This past school year I had the opportunity to partake in a year-long class on the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) campus. The class, entitled “Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Health Field Studies: Research & Social Action,” was sponsored by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) as part of the Young Women’s Collaborative (YWC) program, which strives to empower college women, support college students to conduct research projects on reproductive health issues, and launch social action campaigns on the campus and community. Our 2013 CSUF YWC class was the second cohort; the first class and cohort of YWC students at CSUF took place in 2010.
As part of the class structure, we analyzed research data conducted on our campus, developed and carried out social action projects, developed our leadership skills, and engaged in community service learning projects. Our course was structured as a community-based participatory research class, an iterative process incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.
My classmates and I were given the opportunity to present our research at NAPAWF’s Power Up! Summit in Washington, D.C in March, 2013. While in D.C, my classmates and I not only attended the summit but also made congressional visits, attended an immigration reform rally, and attended a comprehensive immigration reform hearing. Guest speakers at the summit included Deepa Iyer, Pramila Jayapal, Mee Moua, and Ai-Jen Poo. These four amazing women made compelling speeches on why we need comprehensive immigration reform and discussed many concerns that affect our API community. Overall, the summit was exciting, uplifting, and really encouraged me to think and act upon issues affecting our community at large.
I was one of three students who were able to get into the very crowded comprehensive immigration reform hearing. This single event gave me a new appreciation for social action because I felt that seeing ordinary citizens giving testimony to senators shed light on the democratic process. That hearing showed me that this process is a key way of getting your voice heard. Words cannot express how grateful I feel to have had the opportunity to sit in this hearing.
Back in Orange County, my social action projects were conducted in partnership with the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance, where I held workshops in stress management and self-reflection. Some of my other classmates worked with youth at Magnolia High School while others conducted health and wellness workshops with peers on campus.
I feel that this class is very unique and I wish that all students have the opportunity to take a service-learning class like this one. The students in our class bonded on a different level than any lecture or discussion class allows. My classmates and I see each other as family now as we hang out often and have become close. It is a class like this where real friendships and networking in college takes place. It is my dream that NAPAWF and other community organizations will partner with our campus and sponsor a class like this again because I do believe that it creates student leaders and active citizens in the social action process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Kent Marume is a student at California State University, Fullerton pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Asian American Studies. He served as the president of the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association for the 2012-2013 school years and now serves as the student adviser.
Photo published with permission from author.