Monday, February 08, 2010

Being Proactive in Lao American Activism

As we grow as a community, some of us will come to a point where we ask: Can we do something more?

And in that journey, you might come to a decision that you want to be more deeply involved in Lao American activism. This term will mean different things to different people, and I think the Lao American movement grows stronger from a vibrant diversity of approaches.

Part of the joy of this lifelong journey is discovering for yourself what levels of commitment are best for you. For the record, I don't think most people should seek an 'all activist, all the time,' approach to life. I'd find that monotonous and likely to burn you out before too long. By the same token, I don't recommend superficial activism either. It's rarely satisfying.

If you're just getting started, what can you do? How do you start exploring your full potential? Here are a few ideas:

Volunteer with your local community organization. There are still many organizations out there who can use volunteers, groups who can use help reach out to the community, particularly elders and youth. If you have skills you'd like to share, this is a great first step in becoming a Lao American activist. You can make a difference in the lives of other Lao Americans just by donating a few hours per month to an organization near you.

Develop political awareness! Follow the local politics and become aware of the legislation in your state that could help, or hurt, the lives of Lao Americans. Contact your representatives and tell them which issues matter to you. Volunteer on the campaigns for politicians who take a progressive stand on the rights of refugees and immigrants or other causes that matter to you.

Write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor for your local newspaper about an issue that is important to you.
Plan or participate in an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month event in May.  This is especially important in states where there are smaller communities of Laotians. 
Hold a workshop or a talent show in your community, or host a screening of a Lao documentary to raise awareness – and money – to help Lao communities around the world. Many local libraries, independent bookstores and other community spaces have rooms available for this or you can even do it from your own home.

Become a mentor! Today’s Lao American youth are the next generation of Lao American activists. Strengthen that generation by being a positive role model for youth, whether it be through tutoring, coaching a sports team, or signing up with a program like Big Brother or Big Sister.

Become a contributor for Lao American magazines and journals! They are always looking for new voices to add to our community.  Or even start your own blog! Our community becomes more vibrant with many voices contributing to the discussions.

What are some of your favorite ways of getting involved in your community?

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