Today, we screened the Smithsonian youth project YOUNG HISTORIANS, LIVING HISTORIES — a national project that engages APA youth and educators, encouraging their interest in and appreciation of their own history and identities through the use of media.
Our youngest intern, Leah Schummer, has been fortunate enough to explore her own history and interests since CAAMFest 2013 and has been an invaluable member of our team.
In tandem with the Young Historians project, Leah wanted to share her own experiences:
I started CAAM a year ago to fulfill my internship credit at my high school. I had no idea what or where I wanted to work and I ran around the city, visiting different organizations and asking if they would allow me to work with them. Unfortunately, none of the organizations I visited really jumped out at me. Did I really want to be supervising pre-school recess for three hours? I wanted to do something more meaningful with my time.
The first time I walked into the CAAM offices, I had to convince Hernan, the Business and Communications manager, that I was capable of interning here. I asked him if I could intern and he replied with a cold, “We don’t usually do that… ” I asked him if he would give me a shot and he got in contact with my teacher to double check I wasn’t just a crazy high school student messing around. I smiled and thanked him. A few weeks later I had not gotten the “okay” to come back to CAAM but I came to the offices anyway. Hernan didn’t really know what to do with me but put me with the young PR//Marketing//Festival interns, whom I got along with really well. I was stuck making copies of DVDs and labels but I didn’t mind. I knew that I didn’t have enough credentials or ANY experience doing what the older, more established interns were doing. However, I stuck to it and asked for every opportunity to join meetings or events so I could observe and pretend (in my own mind) that I was a part of this really cool organization.
I’d like to think that I have become a part of the CAAM community, especially since I am always so excited to get involved with anything to do with CAAM and the festival. Last year, I got invited to go to the press conference for CAAMFest 2013 and met the director of the documentary “Linsanity.” And then I got to go to the festival, see the films, attend the gala and the some of the “all ages” events… I was living the life! I feel the same way this year too, but even cooler because I got my own badge labeled “CAAMFest 2014 Staff”!!!!!
As a high school student, I think its really hard to find your own identity, and things you are passionate about since everyone is struggling to do the same thing. Having CAAM, the CAAM community and the festival makes me feel more comfortable in my own Japanese identity, which spent a lot of time under wraps as I went through elementary and middle school. I felt that I wasn’t in touch with my Asian identity as much as I was with my Austrian identity and honestly, that made me really upset. Finding CAAM was kind of like a Godsend for me, and through it, I’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people who are working to share the stories of Asians and Asian-Americans throughout the world. With CAAM, I’ve come to realize the greater Asian-American community that is out there, whether I work with them in the offices, interact with them at events or hear their stories during CAAMFest. I’ve realized that I don’t need to give up a part of my identity or passion to make way for something new, I just have to make space. And that’s what CAAM has allowed me to do.
Sure, as a high school student, it is intimidating as hell to be working with such powerful people, knowing that they practically control everything CAAM related. And yes, it is incredibly embarrassing when I can never make it to a staff meeting on time (seriously, NEVER) just because of the time I get out from school. But regardless of all of these things, those same powerful people and well-accomplished adults have made me feel comfortable, have encouraged me, and have created the community that I call CAAM.