Participants share their thoughts and reflections after hosting inaugural convention conversations.
By Young Professionals Caucus
At this year’s virtual JACL National Convention, held July 15-18, the Young Professionals Caucus was honored to host its very first convention programming, including an open community space and a plenary workshop. In addition, the YPC’s closed discord server allowed its participants to socialize and provide mentorship to first-time convention attendees and to its kohai in the JACL’s National Youth/Student Council.
Titled “Transitioning Into the Workforce From an Anti-Oppressive Lens,” the discussion featured YPC members Rob Buscher, Laura Espinoza, Elizabeth Fugikawa, Jamie Morishima, Vinicius Taguchi and Matt Weisbly as they recalled their experiences as young professionals from within a variety of workforce industries, as well as shared how they have utilized anti-oppressive practices within all of their individual careers.
The YPC is an affinity group within the JACL that was first conceptualized as a successor to the National Youth/Student Council as a way to help young adult members above the age of 25 remain engaged in the JACL and create an intentional space for this distinct peer group to interact with one another.
Our debut couldn’t have gone better, in our minds. Thank you to all the attendees and JACL National staff (especially Bridget Keaveney) for making it such a success.
Following are reflections and thoughts from YPC members who attended this year’s convention.
“While I missed being able to see old friends and meet new friends in person, I still feel so connected to my fellow youth and YPC folks and energized to keep organizing and building community. To see our elders so excited for us is always heartwarming and encouraging, giving me the strength and faith to continue working to advance civil rights and social justice.”
— Elizabeth Fugikawa, Mile High Chapter
“I’m proud that YPC was able to accomplish our workshop for convention this year. Most of our work has been done digitally since our inception, and being able to pull off a workshop in a time where everything has been moved to the digital sphere shows this kind of organizing can be done this way going forward.”
— Dylan Mori, IDC representative to the YPC and president of the Mile High Chapter
“It was incredible seeing the YPC community coming out in full force. Our cross-country online community space developed as a response to coping with the tragic murder of George Floyd during a time of isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was only fitting, then, that our first convention activities centered around sharing our social justice experiences with the NY/SC, reflecting on the JACL’s past, and working to pass the two resolutions in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and condemning anti-Asian hate.
“I was so grateful to have this support network when the Atlanta spa massacre happened. Now, as we continue defining what the YPC will become, I am excited to see us finalize our logo, secure a seat on the National JACL Board and learn more about my colleagues as they’re interviewed for the Speaking Nikkei podcast.”
— Vinicius Taguchi, MDC representative to the YPC and president of the Twin Cities Chapter
“It was a joy to be back in the larger JACL community after a difficult year — even if only virtually and for a couple of days. I’m eager to see where JACL heads as an organization with the passage of R1 — after a long and close vote — and R2, especially after a year of ongoing anti-Asian racism and never-ending Black Lives Matter protests.
“It was also a bittersweet convention for me as we remembered Ron Katsuyama, one of my mentors assigned to me during my first convention when I was a Philly convention youth scholarship recipient. Ron showed me the ropes to convention as a fellow 2018 delegate, and I was happy to be back with a workshop with my fellow Young Professionals Caucus members this year.”
— Karman Chao, New York Chapter
“I am happy I got to attend my first-ever JACL Convention with the YPC community. I’m grateful for all the guidance, laughter and encouragement from fellow members during convention. The YPC has been a strong support system for me throughout this very stressful year. Not only have they helped me navigate the JACL organization as a new member, but they also have also provided a space to build community. I’m excited to continue to be in community with such thoughtful and empowering individuals.”
— Jamie Morishima, SELANOCO Chapter
The YPC looks forward to seeing you at the 2022 JACL National Convention in Las Vegas. In the meantime, you can keep up with the group’s ongoing projects and meetings, including the Speaking Nikkei podcast, its monthly community spaces, the launch of the YPC website and programming based on the feedback the YPC received in its contact form.
For more information about the YPC, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Instagram @jaclypc and Facebook @JACL Young Professionals Caucus.