Summer Activist Training 2009

Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance or KIWA (formerly the Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates) created the Summer Activist Training program in 1993 to meet the needs of young people who wanted to make social change in their communities but lacked the skills to organize campaigns. NCRR became a sponsor in 1995 along with Thai Community Development Corporation (Thai CDC) and were soon joined by the Pilipino Workers’ Center (PWC). This year the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) of San Gabriel, the Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA) and the South Asian Network (SAN) came on as sponsors and helped plan and lead workshops for the 18 young people who participated in the four-day training.

Although mainly from Southern California, participants came from Northern California and even Oregon to learn about issues facing the different Asian Pacific Islander communities, gender issues, global and environmental issues, types of organizing and how to do outreach and media work. The training ends with an “action” organized by the participants. This year the group supported the carwash workers at the Vermont Carwash in their demands for safe working conditions and fair wages (NLRB recently ruled in favor of the workers and ordered the company to correct their violations and pay compensation to fired workers). This year the program also included some 10th grade high school students and recent high school graduates who contributed to the training and were welcomed by the other participants, mainly college students from USC, Clarement Colleges, UCLA and Cal State University Long Beach. Although their levels of awareness about issues and their experience in organizing may have differed, they all shared a common passion for social justice.

These young people carry what they learn back to their communities and to organizations at their schools. NCRR has sponsored young people who are now part of the Little Tokyo Service Center, SEIU leadership, Tuesday Night at the Cafe or working in non-profits in other cities. One of the great benefits of SAT is the network that the participants form that continues after and into their work in their communities and campuses. They also give back to SAT by volunteering to coordinate the program for the next group of participants. This year, Sally Zhu of UCLA and Wendy Chu , graduate from Pomona spent hours in preparation, slept with the group at the training site at All Peoples and made sure they were all fed, had transportation to the various sites and generally handled anything that arose. The program went exceptionally smoothly this year due to their great organization and people skills. SAT is funded by the organizations which provide meals and cover the operating costs. All of the trainers, coordinators and drivers donate their time because they see the tremendous value of SAT. Please consider donating to this important program. You can send donations to NCRR which handles the funds for SAT. Thank you.