“…teens have more impact than they think…”
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, LHTP has partnered with one of our donors to establish the LHTP Heritage Scholarship. We are proud to present to you, our inaugural winner, Bilan Guan. Bilan is a senior at Lincoln High School and has been a member of YUCA since her freshman year and part of the Increase the Peace Support team. Bilan will be attending UCLA in the fall, and we are happy we can continue to support her.
A special thank you to all the students that took the time to share your wonderful stories for consideration. From defying the prophecy of fortune tellers to the impact of movies and media, the weight of your heritage shone through.
Here, Bilan reflects on the rise in hate crime and how she chose to take action.
In my Chinese household, I’m often told to remain silent or stay away from issues that do not directly impact me to avoid unnecessary trouble. But after hearing about an Asian elder who went missing in LA Chinatown only to be found murdered three days later, I was stunned. There were growing incidents of AAPI senior citizen attacks all over the US, and I saw the importance, as a teen, to take action with peers to combat Anti-Asian violence.
After this incident, I noticed a shift in my community. Tables where Asian elderly normally gather for coffee and chess were empty. Aunties selling veggies on the sidewalks were no longer there. My grandparents would normally go out to Chinatown on a daily basis to grab coffee or Yum Cha and Dim Sum with their friends. They had begun to stay home due to the rise of AAPI hate crimes. On Sundays, they would usually go to church but because of COVID pandemic and rise in AAPI hate crimes, I had to help them with technology such as setting up Zoom and FaceTime for church meetings.
As a teen, I was desperate to take action and do something about these issues, even if it was just a little bit. With that, my team of students from Chinatown Teen Council organized programs to raise awareness about hate crimes happening against the AAPI community. We offered a safe space for teens to discuss issues around racism, and held a self-defense program where a martial artist shared self-defense moves to protect ourselves and our family from harm. Our programs had over fifty participants, both teens and adults in the community joined us. From my observations and survey after the program, I saw that participants felt more connected to their community and civic engagement.
I learned the power of teens and the importance of empowering them because we can make more important contributions to our community than I initially thought. By taking initiative, we drew adult community members together to stand in solidarity. I felt that teens have more impact than they think with the hope to inspire more teens to take part in advocacy.
We hope you continue to support LHTP and youth like Bilan who are representative of spirit of our community. Head over to GiveInMay.org today to donate towards the 2022 Give In May Giving Challenge in recognition of AAPI Heritage Month.