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Meet the 2011 Eva Lowe Fellows!
The Eva Lowe Fellowship for Social Justice
The Eva Lowe Fellowship for Social Justice provides a unique opportunity to a new generation of activists and organizers who want to build the power of and improve the lives of the working class Chinese immigrant community.
During ten weeks of intensive training, ground work and reflection, Eva Lowe Fellows will learn about and support Chinese immigrant struggles in San Francisco, work to connect the larger API Movement across the country and build lasting relationships with peers, mentors and community members.
2011 Fellowship Class
Alice Tse, Senior Fellow
I was a member of the inaugural class of the Eva Lowe Fellowship last summer. In the Spring, I applied for a placement through UC Berkeley's Labor Summer and I am excited to be working with CPA again (and meeting the new fellows!). I hope to grow more as an individual and to be a stronger, more versatile and experienced organizer. Being a part of the Eva Lowe Fellowship and working with CPA has meant challenging myself to bridge theory with praxis, to recognize and deconstruct everyday and institutional oppression, and to be able to have the power and privilege to help begin to build a better world. I'm going to be a Super! Senior at UC Berkeley as a double major in Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies in the Fall and in the Spring of next year, I hope to be studying in Hong Kong in order to gain a more transnational and global perspective on organizing and social justice and to get more in touch with my Chinese roots.
Hai Chi Vu (San Francisco and Saigon, Vietnam)
Growing up in Saigon Iíve witnessed and heard stories (mostly from my parents) of injustice at all levels, given it economic, social, political, ability, literacy or what not were enough to anger and motivate me to pursue a career in social justice. The most distinguished and troubling memory includes my cousins and close friends being barred from accessing an education and social mobility due to their socio-economic status and abilities in the country. Coming to America has opened new opportunities yet raised new challenges for myself and my parents, who have struggled to establish a new life in pursuing the "American Dream." In the early years, Iíve seen my parents struggled to keep my brother and I living comfortably by working endless hours seven days a week and trying the best they can to help us develop our English and social skills to fit in with American society, even when they donít even understand what was said to them at parent-teach conferences. My experiences and work on environmental justice issues among communities of color have led me to apply for the Eva Lowe Fellowship to finally connect my personal stories as an immigrant, as a member of the API community, and as an activist to fight against social injustices right here in San Francisco.
I hope to contribute my share in a momentous movement of positive social change by supporting and working with young leaders to open new opportunities for social and political mobility.
The fellowship allows me to work directly with the community, and most importantly its youth leaders, to build knowledge about the issues affecting the community, share our respective stories, and build a strong community; all of these experiences require me to have strong leadership, organizing, and communication skills which are essential skills in any job opportunities. But the hands-on interaction will further inspire me to continue my social justice journey and expand my understanding of the social justice spectrum.
Jennie Lu (Baldwin Park, CA)
I am a product of my environment and its subsequent power relations. Immigrant, refugee parents. Self-deprecating low-income minority neighborhood that uses the humor to distract from how messed up the situation really is. (ie. "Yo, what school are you going to next year?" "In-n-Out University." Yes, there is an---nay, the-- In-n-Out University in my town. How baller is that?!) Simultaneously a product and benefactor of American imperialism. It is hard to say what led me to the Eva Lowe Fellowship without including everything from how a white grade school teacher told her class, "Don't laugh at her funny last name," as six-year-old me went in front of the school to accept an award; to watching the Twin Towers crumble to the ground as twelve-year-old me prepared for war; to fourteen-year-old me first reading Orwell and starting to connect the dots; to fifteen-year-old me watching military recruiters at the high school recruit our boys to fight in the wars and responding with an anti-militarization campaign on campus; to seventeen-year-old me getting accepted to UC Berkeley, my ticket out, but how many people have an out?
And now, at twenty, three years into my time of intellectual masturbation with the colonial and homogenizing higher education corporate structure and two years into doing all I can to demolish it, here I am.
My organizing for the past two years has largely existed on the Berkeley campus or a specific radical community in Oakland, both of which are in their own (albeit overlapping) bubbles. As we all know, bubbles (housing or otherwise) inevitably pop. And they should pop, if only to remind us that we always need to strive for a better alternative to what we have now, no matter what that is, because oppression never dies. If we ever think it has, we need to do some deep reevaluating because old habits--millennias' worth--die hard. But we can battle it out, nonetheless, and take our victories for what they are worth and take our losses as lesson. And that is what I intend to do. And I hope the Eva Lowe Fellowship will help me do so.
Po Yan Ma (San Francisco, CA)
Seeing many of my friends and parents work under harsh conditions (i.e. low wages, extensive working hours, lack of health benefit, and etc), I decided to apply for the Eva Lowe Fellowship. From the Fellowship, I wish to gain a better understanding of mobilizing the working class to resist social injustice, and ultimately to tie what Iíve studied about the history of labor struggles with the community. I want to explore the nature of community organizing: what are some strategies that can be utilized, what careful consideration is required in coming up with those strategies, and etc. I donít expect that this process is going to be easy, as Iíve seen many great activists burned out quickly. Although thatís the case, I do believe that if we see struggles and injustice, we should address them. While I may not be able to see any radical changes in the near future, or even throughout my generation, I believe all the efforts and changes that the activists and the people make will add up. With these gradual yet fierce changes, I can definitely envision a future where social justice and equality prevail.
Tiffany Ng (San Francisco, CA)
Tiffany is a San Francisco native who has spent the better part of her teenage years growing with the Chinese Progressive Association. Now an inch taller and a lot more aware, she is determined to end the prevalence of apoliticism in youth, environmental racism, and other injustices in her home and the world. By joining the Eva Lowe Fellowship, she will be continuing her political education as well as working to instigate the organizing power of the youth in impacted communities. Through this experience, she hopes to be inspired, challenged and motivated to use her newfound skills in her new community at Allegheny College.
William Chiang (Oakland, CA)
My name is William Chiang and I identify as a Chinese American male from Oakland. Growing up in a low income community with parents that only spoke Chinese, I often felt the struggles that my parents were going through in America. From having to translate for my parents to feeling the financial constraints with my family when my dad was laid off, I recognized the various social justice issues that my parents as Chinese immigrants had to face. Being a part of their struggle to sustain themselves opened my eyes to a plethora of issues Chinese people among other immigrants had to face in my community. Knowing how privileged I am to be in America, I used my parents struggles and hardships as my motivation to pursue higher education. As a student at UC Berkeley now, I am constantly learning and familiarizing myself with issues affecting the low income communities in the Bay Area.
My experience growing up along with my involvement in different progressive organizations on campus motivated me to apply for the Eva Lowe Fellowship because I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to become a resource and empower the Chinese immigrant community that I am a product of. The goals of the fellowship are reflective of my own goals because I want to help address similar struggles that my parents and I went through. In addition, the Eva Lowe fellowship provides me with ten weeks of training and ground work which I am looking forward to because the skills I will gain as a result can help me integrate myself into the community on a more efficient level as I will be able to utilize these skills on multiple levels in the future. Being able to work with the Chinese immigrant community and having the skills to communicate, organize, and mobilize the community to attain progressive change is very valuable. In all, I am truly thankful and excited to be a Eva Lowe Fellow and I cannot wait to get involved!