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Asian Youth in Action - Workshop Series

Project Overview

A series of youth-led workshops and discussions about social justice issues affecting Asian American communities.

Identifying the Problem

In America's racial hierarchy, Asians have been labeled the "model minority." This label may be flattering on the surface, but it actually reinforces a racial hierarchy wherein whiteness is the ideal. It enables people to say, "Look, Asians can make it in America, why can't other minority groups pull themselves up?" The model minority label obscures the struggles that many poor Asian communities face, and also serves to further oppress other minority groups. Adrienne wanted to help break down the model minority myth -- the idea that Asians are socioeconomically more successful than other minority groups, and therefore less "troublesome," because they are hardworking and family-focused.

Creating A Solution

Adrienne wanted to develop a project focused on educating and enabling Asian youth to fight injustice as a way to start dismantling the model minority myth. She was familiar with CAAV’s Asian Youth in Action, a program that educates and mobilizes Asian American youth in New York City to become activists in their communities. Adrienne wanted to work with these youth to develop a series of workshops about the social justice issues that they are interested in. 

She started by reaching out to several Asian community organizations in New York City and volunteering with them. When she developed a better sense of their mission and work, she set up meetings with their lead organizers to find out how she could get more involved. Adrienne learned that due to a loss of funding, CAAAV's youth program would be formally ending, so she asked if she could help to keep the program running in a volunteer capacity. She pitched the idea of developing youth-led workshops to the lead youth organizer, and CAAV enthusiastically brought her on board.

Aware that she was coming in as a new person to an existing program, Adrienne began by meeting with the youth and asking what issues they would be interested in exploring together. The issues they raised include migration, labor rights, the food industry and feminism in gaming culture. At their first official meeting together, Adrienne and the youth did a crash course on workshop development, split into pairs, and created a schedule for bi-weekly meetings in which each pair would lead a workshop on the issue of their choice. These workshops encourage Asian American youth to identify struggles their communities face, and empowers them to become actively involved in addressing these problems.

Lessons Learned

Because Adrienne is not native to New York, it was challenging to find a community to tap into as an outsider. However, she learned that what is important is not necessarily how long you have lived in a certain region, but how well you demonstrate your dedication to the mission and the ideas and skillset you offer. Adrienne also emphasizes the importance of being respectful of the community leaders who are already there. “Don't show up and act like you have all the answers.,” she says. “Learn from them and ask how you can help enhance their existing work.”

Get Involved!

Adrienne’s workshops have been an invaluable activity for the Asian American youth of New York City, and she would like to see the Asian Youth in Action program back up and running in an official capacity, with paid staff and a budget for youth activism. If you are inspired by the mission, you can donate here. Please leave a note saying your donation is to support Asian Youth in Action.


Adrienne did not raise any money for the workshops she ran. The expenses related to her project were very minimal, and she paid for them out of pocket.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Poland Poland 2014

Developed by:

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