The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Christian community will be gathering in Washington, D.C. in June to engage with elected officials regarding the needs of the AAPI community as well as to learn about resources they can receive from the government.
This year makes the ninth time that Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) has hosted a summit for the AAPI Christian community, addressing the needs of AAPI individuals and training them to understand the resources available to them on the government level. For the past two years, a portion of the summit included a White House briefing, during which White House staff shared some of the initiatives of the federal government, and the attendees had time to ask questions or address specific needs.
Such a summit is significant because it allows the AAPI community more opportunities to “get on the radar” of the mainstream community and particularly to get the attention of the government, explained Hyepin Im, the president and CEO of KCCD.
“We want them to see us because they forget about us,” Im said. “And when they see us, they could include us when they’re making those policy decisions or funding decisions.”
“Our words have power, but if we do not even raise our voice, others will,” she added. “If we don’t speak up, our community will be voiceless.”
Though the White House briefing is tentative on the schedule for this year’s summit, Im says that there will be opportunities for dialogue with elected officials during the summit sessions.
“During the summit, rather than them just talking to us about what they’ve been doing, we’ll have opportunity for more conversation and dialogue,” Im explained, adding that that will allow members of the AAPI community voice their interests and needs.
Speakers who will be featured at this year’s summit include Tony Suarez, the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Jannah Scott, the deputy director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Mark Brinkmoeller of the U.S. Agency for International Development; Congresswoman Grace Meng, representing the sixth district of New York; Congressman Ed Royce, representing the 39th district of California; and Congressman Mark Takano, representing the 41st district of California; among others.
KCCD has also had a ‘Young Ambassadors’ program for the summit since 2014, which allowed college students to also participate. This year, the summit will also be open to high school students.
“Our individual voice might seem small, but small voices coming together can make a difference and be an influence on our community,” said Rev. John Jongdai Park, a co-chairman of the board of KCCD.
This year's summit will take place from June 6 to 8 at Gallaudet University. For more information, visit aapifaithalliance.org.