with Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director at OCA National
Posted May 04, 2018
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According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Asian population increased 72 percent between 2000 and 2015, resulting in the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group. And as this population continues to grow, there remains a lack of involvement in politics and corporate leadership positions. Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director at OCA National discussed programs designed to help high school students explore their identity, and encourage them to become future community leaders.
Traynham: The U.S. Asian population is the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the United States, but remains largely underrepresented in politics and corporate leadership positions. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me to discuss building the next generation of AAPI leaders is Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director of OCA National. Kendall, welcome to the program.
Kosai: Thank you for having me.
Traynham: So let´s talk about that pipeline. Oftentimes, it´s perhaps internships or maybe even starting in elementary school, junior high school, high school. Walk us through specifically what you do and how you´re trying to reach down to those next generation of leaders.
Kosai: Yeah, our real focus is developing a pipeline of AAPI leaders, and so we really start actually at high school. We have a program called APA Y-Advocate where we focus primarily on AAPI identity issues. For me, when I was going through high school, I really didn´t have the opportunity to learn about AAPI history. You know, we talked maybe a little bit about the railroads, and we talked a little bit about incarceration, but we don´t talk about the contributions of AAPIs throughout the history of America.
Traynham: So where do you get that history lesson from? Is it mainly from your parents and family?
Kosai: Absolutely. My family, actually, has been here for over 100 years. And so through the generations, we´ve learned what our history as Japanese Americans here in the United States has been. But, you know, the program that we´ve put on in these high schools is a program that teaches them about their own history. They talk about contributions of Filipino Americans during World War II fighting in the Pacific or contributions of Hmong Americans who were recruited by the U.S. to fight in the Vietnam War. We don´t talk about that in our high schools.
Traynham: And, Kendall, what does that look like? Do you have some type of course curriculum for teachers? Do you go into the high schools as an extracurricular activity? What does that look like in terms of actually speaking to high school students?
Kosai: Yeah, we utilize our chapters and affiliates across the country to put on these trainings. It´s a half-day program during a weekend, typically, where we have maybe 30 to 40 kids in any given session to talk about these identity issues. And for many of them, this is the first time they´re really exploring the identity, really exploring these kind of issues that really affect them, and really thinking more deeply about what it means to be Asian American and Pacific Islander.
Traynham: And, Kendall, I want to transition now to college and internships. What does that look like?
Kosai: Absolutely. So I´m actually a product of the internship program myself, but OCA provides 10-week internships here in Washington, D.C., where we place them in government agencies, congressional offices, non-profit organizations, as well as corporations to really get hands-on learning experience. And in addition to that, we also teach them what it means to be an advocate, what issues really affect AAPIs in the United States. We talk about immigration, education, things like that that really make a difference. And the hope is that they´ll go back to their communities after their internships and become community leaders. Many of them have gone on to be, you know, chapter presidents within the organization. Many of them have gone on to become executive directors of other non-profit organizations. We really want to develop that pipeline of leaders through our internship program.
Traynham: Kendall, we´ve got about a minute and a half left. I want to focus on you and your internship. Walk us through specifically what did you do. I assume it was here in Washington, D.C.?
Kosai: Absolutely, yes.
Traynham: And what takeaways did you learn from your internship that perhaps our folks that are watching could learn from, quite frankly?
Kosai: Yeah, absolutely. I think it gave me a wide, diverse understanding of the issues of the AAPI community. You know, I wasn´t -- Growing up, I wasn´t super-involved in AAPI issues. I didn´t know that immigration was such a hot topic or education was such an important topic to AAPIs. But coming to Washington, D.C., and understanding and being with my diverse cohort of, you know, individuals from all around the country of all different backgrounds, it gave me a better understanding of the diversity of the AAPI community.
Traynham: So it sounds like, Kendall, that you would strongly recommend your experience to your peers and to your colleagues and so forth.
Kosai: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was life-changing for me, and for many of the interns that have gone through the program, it continues to be life-changing.
Traynham: And, Kendall, in the 30 seconds we have left or so, where can folks find out more information about the internship program and/or the high school program? Is there a website they can go to?
Kosai: Absolutely. Our website is www.ocanational.org. And I encourage everyone to take a look at our programs that we have available.
Traynham: Kendall Kosai, the deputy director of OCA National, thank you very much for joining us. -
Kosai: Thank you. -
Traynham: Really appreciate it. And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Robert Traynham.
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All parents want their children to excel in school academically, but many aren't able to afford expensive school supplies for them to do so. This becomes an even greater issue for students entering middle and high school, quickly approaching college application season. Henry Saxon joins Robert Traynham for an intimate discussion on the how the Boys and Girls Club of America is providing students with quality school supplies.
Henry Saxon joins Robert Traynham for a discussion on the how the Boys and Girls Club of America is helping families provide students with quality school supplies.
Interview Recorded June 14, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: This fall as elementary school students head back to class, parents can spend up to $200 per child on school supplies. For parents of middle and high school students, that figure jumps to more than $330. For families struggling to make ends meet, these costs can be out of reach. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham, and joining me is Henry Saxon, director of organizational development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Welcome to the program, Henry.
Saxon: Thank you, Robert.
Traynham: You know, I'm pausing for a second here because I just -- When I say those type things and read those stats, it's really depressing that there are some parents out there that really can... look, write a check, and whatever their child needs or children need, they can make it happen. For others, who are living paycheck to paycheck, folks that are struggling between literally food, medicine, the mortgage, car payment, and school supplies, it's a bit of a struggle. How pervasive is this problem?
Saxon: Well, thank you for your question. And it is very concerning to all of us and certainly at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where we have nearly 4 million kids who faithfully come to our clubs each and every day. Many of them are in the demographics that you just described, so... But what's more troubling is, without those critical resources that you cited, young people have a tendency to fall behind if they're not adequately prepared at the start of the school year. And we all know the implications of not having adequate preparation, and they fall behind in some of the things that impact them, particularly academically.
Traynham:?The parent who is struggling -- they're probably saying to themselves, "I want my child to do well, but I cannot afford this. And I want my child to soar academically." And they're crying out for help. What can they do? How can they turn to perhaps the Boys & Girls Club of America for help?
Saxon: Well, one of the things that we're focusing on is we've just launched an after-school initiative called Back2School, and this is where we're having really a call to action, quite honestly, to the public to go to our website, bgca.com, and look at supporting young people by donating after-school supplies and resources so we can distribute them at our nearly 4,000 Club houses across the country. That's one start where we can get critical resources to the kids that you're talking about.
Traynham:And, Henry, for the folks that are watching this program either on their smart device or perhaps at home, what does those school supplies look like? Is it just as simple as a pen? Is it a laptop? Are there books? I mean, what is it?
Saxon:They're reference materials, paper products, pens, calculators, reading materials, dictionaries, reference materials, as I mentioned -- "A" to "Z." If we're fortunate enough to take things like laptops, we'll certainly get those and accept those as well, but our website has all of that information and some of the things that we advise you to provide for us.
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