I quickly came to find myself advocating for a cause I believed in during sophomore year of college. As a 19-year-old, I knew absolutely nothing about what it meant to be an advocate. But that all changed when I actively became involved with leadership roles for campus organizations and events, including organizing the first-ever film festival in Ithaca, New York.
The film festival, still in operation today, has taught me the meaning behind advocacy and leadership. Through the festival, for example, I learned that I could become a proponent for change by organizing a space for underrepresented artists and filmmakers in the media. Specifically, for Asian American and Pacific Islanders who are misrepresented in Hollywood films through whitewashing or yellow face.
Yes, coordinating the festival was no easy task. It took countless hours, a dedicated team, and loyal community partners to make it happen. Moreover, I spent much of my time collecting sponsorships, maintaining relationships with local businesses and restaurants, and recruiting volunteers. Through it all, I had the pleasure of seeing three wonderful festivals successfully put together and executed.
Over time, festival attendance and publicity grew and filmmakers alike embraced the space created for them and showcase their talents. As much as I enjoyed working to coordinate a great community festival, I had the pleasure of seeing the outcome of it all and mingling with the guests who stopped by film screenings and the various other events of the weekend. I led, facilitated, and managed numerous responsibilities as a three-year veteran, and just like that, I became a proponent of change.
I am always seeking out ways to read about people who inspire others and lead the way, and I have come to find many role models who do just that. Through my work, I feel I have not only drawn strength and confidence from my colleagues, but also put forth passion and dedication. As someone who is constantly hoping to face the world with inspiration and empathy, I strive to challenge others to do the same by becoming a proponent of change.
I encourage people to step up for what they believe in through action and creation. No matter how small the act, I find it important to develop a passion and follow it no matter the outcome. The enthusiasm and overwhelming joy that comes from supporting a cause are like no other. From experience, I would tell others to take charge and lead a project that supports a cause. I believe people can step up for change and face the world with passion, confidence, and strength.