Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Chinatown Youth Initiatives is now hiring summer staff!

CYI is currently in search of candidates to fill the following positions:

Coordinator, Facilitator and Participant Outreach Committee Member

All positions are unpaid, but CYI is more than willing to work with colleges so that summer staff can receive internship and/or school credits.

All applications must be received by 11:59pm EST on Sunday, February 21st, 2010, via email to apply@cyinyc.org.

Summer Leadership Institute Program Description:

Please distribute widely.

If you are:
• Passionate about issues that face Chinatown, Asian Americans, and other underrepresented communities.
• Dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring discussion around what you are passionate about.
Then you have what it takes to be part of the staff at our Summer Leadership Institute (SLI).

This summer, be a different kind of leader…
One who can inspire high school youth to become, not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today!


Works with Senior Coordinator: To oversee all aspects of program administration for the Summer Leadership Institute, keep track of budget and program expenses, provide training to facilitation team, as well as develop curricula for and facilitate youth workshops during SLI around sociopolitical issues.
Works with other facilitators and coordinators: To develop curricula for and facilitate youth workshops around sociopolitical issues, organize informal hangouts for assigned small group.
Works with other committee members: To spearhead outreach efforts to diversify and maximize number of applicants for SLI, assist coordinators in creating and distributing participant applications, research opportunities to increase program visibility.

The mission of Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI) is to empower New York City youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs of Chinatown, Asian Americans, and other underrepresented communities. CYI is a youth-run organization that works to build a legacy of young leaders by strengthening awareness of community issues through workshops and project initiatives.

The summer program of CYI, called the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), consists of a series of weekly workshops, in which high school youth engage in exploratory activities and discussions. These workshops, typically run by college students, aim to facilitate identity and leadership development, as well as to enhance awareness of issues affecting underrepresented communities. Please visit our website at www.cyinyc.org for more information.

All positions are unpaid, but CYI is more than willing to work with colleges so that summer staff can receive internship and/or school credits.

For further inquiries, please contact Dan Ping He at danping@cyinyc.org

All applications must be received by 11:59pm EST on Sunday, February 21st, 2010, via email to apply@cyinyc.org.

For applications, click here!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Based on a True Story.

By Melanie Gao

The bus rumbled and moved forward, stopped and started again. Green lights turned red and red again turned green. Cars honked and people talked. People walked past me, people stood in front of me. I bet all that happened, but I am not so sure. I was too busy in a faraway place—somewhere in Scotland, to be exact—learning the spells and magic of the wizard world and happily stalking the lives of a Harry Potter, a Hermione Granger, and a Ron Weasley, the campus celebrities.
Then I was interrupted—unceremoniously whisked away; out of my book and back into the dirty, Muggle bus. It was dark outside. I turned to my left, willing to Avada Kedavra the creature that got me kicked out from Hogwarts and back into the simple Muggle world. I saw an elderly woman, gray hair tied up in a messy bun, strands of white elegantly adorning a nest of grey. She seemed tired, wearing a red jacket and a brown scarf; I saw no wand, no indication of any extraordinary power—definitely a Muggle. She said something in a language I could not comprehend. I whispered back, “Pardon?” She spoke again, this time differently. This time I could hear her. I understood. “You can read that English book?” she asked in Mandarin.
I was surprised. I replied to her in the same language with a simple, “Yes”. She said I was so smart and hardworking to be reading on a bus. I did not think I deserved this compliment. My thoughts spilled out as I explained to her how I was rereading Harry Potter for the sixth time to avoid reading a required Shakespeare reading and how I probably deserve an award for being a slacker extraordinaire. She listened to me with my broken Chinese, and replied with a single phrase: “But you can read.” I did not know how to respond. As the bus turned, she began to speak. She talked about immigrating a few months ago with her husband. With a little over a thousand dollars in cash and limited English ability, she arrived with high hopes and expectations. She settled in NYC’s Chinatown. After a few weeks in the America she dreamed about, her hopes came spiraling down like a first year in flying class.
As we talked, I learned about her ambitions, her hopes, her losses and sacrifices. Through her, I learned not only perseverance, but also intimacies about Chinatown, the Chinatown culture, and the lives of Chinese immigrants than I knew before. She helped me realized how lucky I was to be reading my own copy of Harry Potter for the sixth time, and how lucky I was to have supportive family and friends willing to help me accomplish my goals. My bus friend told me she was proud of me, proud of a young Chinese girl with such a strong interest in science; she told me to cure cancer, to find a cure for her leg pain, to save lives and to even become the first female President. She encouraged me to work hard; I could do just as well and even better than any boy could. My new friend told me to do what I love, and to bring what I love to world. Her words inspired me. For the rest of the bus ride, I tried to teach her English as fast as I could—how to read certain words and how certain letters sound. I started straight from the beginning—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter One.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


By Karen Zheng

I took the PSAT this year for the first time. When the test was finally over, the proctor asked us two yes or no “research” questions that would "not affect our scores". The first was if we used the “Official Student Guide to the PSAT/ NMSQT” booklet to prepare. I vaguely remember noticing a big pile of them outside of the guidance office, free for the taking, several weeks before the exam. I looked at the second question. It asked if one or both of our parents went to college. I bubbled in the negative for both of them.

The second question seemed like déjà vu to me, as it was one of the questions from SLI's Privilege Walk. If one or both of your parents went to college, you were to take a step or two forward. I ended up as almost the farthest back person in the walk, meaning that I was one of the most "stereotypically unprivileged" people in the room. It was a shock; I have always thought of myself as a privileged individual.

I thought about the questions asked. If you were a female, you were to take a step back. If you were under eighteen, you were to take a step back. If you were under sixteen, you were to take another step back. If you had to worry about citizenship, you were to take a step back. If you did not fully trust your parents with certain discussions, you were to take a step back. I did not understand how these questions could determine how fortunate someone is, because adult male citizens who have good salaries and good relationships with their families have problems just like everyone else. I initially thought the questions were unfair; if different questions were asked, I might be in the "privileged" group.

We then tried to define privilege as a group; I remember saying, “being born with things that others don't have.” Some people agreed with me, expressing their doubts of the walk as a good measure of privilege. Some said that it was pretty accurate, defining "privilege" as access to material goods (for example, if you have ever lived in public housing, you probably lived in poverty at some point, which puts you at a more unprivileged state than someone from the middle- or upper-class). Others said that privilege was self-gained, so everything that you are born with means nothing; only what you make happen for yourself counts. Still others narrowed this down by saying that only happiness should matter, and how happy you are equals how privileged you are. Although we could not come to a definite conclusion about privilege, we agreed that being "privileged" is to have everything that we need to survive and be content with life, and also to be a part of SLI and society's institutions.

I looked at the PSAT book before me. I wonder what “research” they will gather – will kids with highly educated parent(s) have generally higher grades than kids whose parent(s) did not attend college, or vice versa? Either scenario could happen, though there probably will be no correlation. In some cases, “uneducated” parents will want their children to be better than they are, and will push them harder than “educated” parents to excel in school to have better job opportunities in the future. In other cases, “uneducated” parents will use themselves as templates for their children – if they did not study much and are financially stable now, their children can do the same and focus on other activities, like working or sports. I think having parents who did not attend college is sort of a privilege; I am influenced to work harder so that I will not have as physically demanding jobs as they do. Other times, I wish my parents know what it is like to be in my shoes, so they would stop telling me to loosen up on extracurricular activities, or to sleep before midnight because it is "just one science test". Either way, I know I cannot affect my parents' past. My future should not be based on privileges that I may or may not have been lucky enough to have been born with.