Meet the 2015 Fellows

Kavita Bissoondial
Hometown: Ontario, Canada
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
I am a facilitator, storyteller, and recovering student organizer. I have participated in a diversity of social justice projects, but mostly I aim to create space for community building and peer support by and for queer and trans people of colour and indigenous folks. I’m stoked to participate in this fellowship because through a lot of the organizing I was a part of, I learned a lot but I also didn’t figure out how to take care of myself and I got burnt out. It’s been a few years of figuring out that other piece, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to come back into this work than through learning and building with AAPI folks together. I hope to bring what I learn through this fellowship back to Toronto and my work with youth in the city where these kinds of programs don’t exist yet. I also hope to work towards building a similar program at home.
Vi Bui
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
Placement: BPSOS Delaware Valley
This summer I will be a recent graduate from the University of Delaware. Although my degree is in business, my true passion is social change. I was born a constantly questioning individual, and was called into social justice after attending ECAASU Conference 2013. I have not stopped my activism since. My social justice experience has been limited to college activities, but I am grateful for all the opportunities it has provided me, taking place through my leadership in the Asian Student Association where I have introduced social justice topics into the community, my participation in other progressive organizations, and through spoken word. I had planned on taking a “gap” summer between graduation and full-time work to dedicate to social justice organizing, and found the Seeding Change Fellowship to be the perfect opportunity to make direct community impact. I am very excited to be working with BPSOS Delaware Valley to influence the lives of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian youth. I hope to be able to use what I learn as a Seeding Change Fellow to further explore a career in higher education with the goal to make campuses more accessible and welcoming to marginalized students.
Victoria Chan
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
My passion for social justice derives from my experience growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown and witnessing the injustices that many limited-English-proficient individuals and immigrants face, such as wage theft, poor working conditions, and exploitation. I have interned and volunteered for several organizations in S.F. and in Washington, D.C. – such as Chinese for Affirmative Action and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – throughout my college career, and all of which has allowed me to gain extensive experience in working with the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and advancing social justice. I look forward to my placement with Chinese Progressive Association – San Francisco. As a Seeding Change Fellow, I hope to develop and solidify critical skills including community organizing and working in workers’ and tenants’ rights community clinics in Chinatown. I aspire to become a community advocate and attorney fighting for workers’ rights, and the skills that I will gain this summer will be invaluable to my future career and beyond.
Huiying Bernice Chan
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Placement: CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities
I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Toisan 台山, China. I grew up in Brooklyn and call Chinatown my second home. Growing up in the New York City public school system, I experienced and witnessed the racism and injustices within schools in relation to how working-class Asian immigrants are treated in society. These experiences move me to fight for a day when the next generation does not have to experience the same problems. Currently, I am a rising senior and Ethnic Studies Individual Major at Wellesley College. At Wellesley, I am part of a student movement calling for the college to institutionalize Ethnic Studies and to provide greater resources for marginalized students. I am excited to be part of the Seeding Change Fellowship to delve full-time into community organizing work and explore what form of social justice work I want to commit to in the future. This summer I am incredibly excited to work with CAAAV to re-situate myself in the movement at home in relation to greater national issues.
Bryan Chen
Hometown: Somerset, NJ
Placement: VAYLA New Orleans
Growing up in the white suburbs of New Jersey, I didn’t think anything in my life could change. Honestly, people there put in a lot of work to make sure things didn’t change. Being queer, femme, nonbinary, and Taiwanese, my very existence challenged the mainstream, and in turn, my voice was suppressed. In college, I was exposed to radical politics but was taught to keep it to myself. I just graduated from Swarthmore College with a special major in Asian and Asian American Arts Activism and a minor in Chemistry. We focused on theory and talking in inaccessible academic speak, instead of community organizing, forming real relationships, or otherwise affecting change. To challenge this, I have been organizing on campus for the past four years, from creating and running coalition building retreats to throwing queer parties that challenge mainstream, oppressive bullshit to cooking food and relaxing with other queer and trans API students. I applied to this Fellowship so I could feel connected and really cultivate my voice as a community organizer. One of my goals in becoming a Fellow is to transform the elitist, exclusionary language and skills I acquired in college into resources for Asian American communities.
Winnie Chen
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Since the summer of 2012, I have been a member of the Youth Movement of Justice Organizing (MOJO), and it has been a second family to me even after going off to college. MOJO was the place where I learned about the social issues in my communities, the effects of it, and ways to tackle the issues through direct action. Before my first year of college last summer, I saw glimpses of the Seeding Change Fellowship at dinners and workshops and I realized that I wanted to be part of this fellowship too. The discussions, conversations, actions, and relationships drew me in and I knew I had to apply. By being a Fellow, I hope to gain more skills in being an active community member and build relationships with all of the other Fellows along the way! With the skills gained in this fellowship, I hope to bring it back to my college campus and create a political space for students, especially underrepresented APIA students, to build relationships and take action too!
Andrea Chu
Hometown: San Francisco (via Idaho)
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I grew up in Idaho where community was not a reality. It was not until I was a student at UCLA that I became aware of the rich history and continued necessity of community building and organizing. As a student, I was heavily involved in student government and coordinating statewide campaigns in order to build student and worker power. These experiences inspired a passion for mobilizing and coalition building with low-income, immigrant communities and communities of color. Through the Seeding Change Fellowship, I am looking forward to honing my skills and developing new ones in order to become a more effective organizer. I have no doubt that this fellowship will inspire me to further embody love, community, and action.
Nirvana Felix
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Placement: Filipino Advocates for Justice
I’m a first generation college student at the University of California, Berkeley, going into my fourth year as a Social Welfare major. I think I’ve always had a keen interest in social justice issues, especially because I grew up in a low-income household and experienced the adverse effects of homelessness and the prison system. I have previous organizing experience working within immigration and policy, but I’m especially passionate about higher education (in)accessibility for communities of color, and engage in various outreach efforts to prepare low-income youth for college and the application process. I applied to this Fellowship as a means to gain more insight about other issues affecting the Asian American community and hope to use my skills as an organizer to promote social change! When I’m not organizing, you can probably find me online shopping or watching a Johnny Depp film!
Betty Fong
Hometown: Elmhurst, NY
Placement: CPA Boston
I am the daughter of an immigrant mother and the first one in my family to attend a private university. Growing up in New York’s Chinatown, I organized with youth and local organizations around unequal living and environment conditions, lacking voter engagement, and on-going displacement. My social justice work is grounded in wanting my family and community to live happily and healthily, but I am also thinking about the limitations of “my,” “family,” and “community.” I applied to Seeding Change because I cannot imagine doing any other work besides organizing, being on the ground, and developing my role within the working-class, Asian immigrant communities so similar to home. Right now, I am realizing the immense time, labor, and heart needed for a policy to be enacted, an eviction to be delayed, and even a conversation to be loving yet critical. I am SO excited for this summer’s skill-building and support network that will be part of important organizing work as well as building alternative vision for our communities.
Corleone Ham
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Placement: Khmer Girls in Action
I am a second generation Cambodian American male who was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. Long Beach has one of the largest populations of Cambodians outside of Cambodia. Long Beach is also known for being home to a very diverse population of people. I started organizing in high school with a Long Beach based organization called Khmer Girls in Action and was organizing to become politically educated on the conditions of Southeast Asians in the United States. At an early age I was agitated by the conditions that our community was living in and now I was apart of a solution that was actually working with the community. It drew me as a youth leader to become a youth organizer and now I want to expand my personal and professional development by helping an organization I grew up working with and becoming a much stronger advocate for social, economic, and gender justice in my community. I hope to become a better mentor, a more compassionate friend, and a stronger leader in my community who has the ability to help others realize the potential they have to be leaders as well.
Dieu Huynh
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco

My politics is rooted in my identity and the way I see the world. As the youngest child in an immigrant working class family, I’ve seen first hand how far those in power go to hold on to their privileges at the expense of those without power. In the past I’ve worked on local campaigns for progressive candidate/issues, non-profits and organizing with a labor union. I hope to practice my Chinese in organizing with the Chinese Progressive Association, and to learn how to connect and organize with the immigrant workers in the SF Bay Area. I intend to use the skills I learn here to continue doing grassroots organizing work in my community. As a potential high school educator, I hope to use my free time to contribute to my local communities.

Nayim Islam
Hometown: Jackson Heights, NY
Placement: DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center
I am currently a senior at Queens College in New York City. I become involved in social justice work when I attended a DACA clinic at DRUM back in 2013 and plugged into their immigrant rights organizing campaigns. This led me to coming out publicly as an undocumented student and become a lead DRUM representative both locally and nationally. Through this experience I’ve met many amazing organizers fighting for their communities and experienced the intersections of our struggles. I applied to this fellowship with the hopes of growing even further as an organizer; to use everything I lean to empower my community and build solidarity with other communities.
Justin Kong
Hometown: Toronto, Canada (via Hong Kong)
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I have long been looking for progressive politics that engages the Chinese community in Canada with little success. By becoming a fellow I hope to learn more about Asian and specifically Chinese organizing in the United States and see and learn how that contrasts with more ‘multicultural’ models of organzing that appear more prominent in Canada. I studied sociology as an undergraduate and after graduation I worked as a temporary agency warehouse worker during which I became motivated to join organizing against precarious work as a member of the Workers Action Centre in Toronto. I hope my experience, as a fellow will allow me to better understand the possibilities for the renewal of the political left in North America.
Juhee Kwon
Hometown: Emeryville, CA (via Minnesota)
Placement: CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities
I am 1.5-generation Korean American, born in Seoul and raised in Minnesota, with multiple crisscrosses over the Pacific. I grew up listening to my parents’ stories of the 1980s student democracy movement in Korea, but it was not until later that I began to realize the revolutionary power and history of the Korean people. I was mainly involved in broader Asian American social justice circles in college and still believe in the necessity of the political Asian American identity at times. After college, I took on a paid job providing social services and immigration legal services with the Korean immigrant community in the Bay Area. I have recently began to connect to the Korean identity in a much more holistic way than in my church-going childhood, and I am looking forward to the fellowship’s opportunity to engage with the NYC Korean immigrant community.
Xiao Yin Ma
Hometown: New York
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I am a rising sophomore with a minor in Asian American studies. I first become involved with organizing when I joined CAAAV in high school. I enjoyed sharing my experience with other youth and fighting for social change in the community. As a fellow, I wish to further develop my identity, deepen my understanding of the Asian American community, and learn about effective tactics of organizing. I hope to take away valuable skills and knowledge that I can bring back to my college campus and the community back home. Furthermore, I hope to develop a friendship with other Fellows that will last a lifetime.
Jillian Mariano
Hometown: Dinuba, CA
Placement: Filipino Community Center
I am a graduating senior at UC Davis, double-majoring in Asian American Studies and Communication. I became interested in social justice and advocacy when I took Professor Kim’s Asian American Studies 1 class, which illuminated the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States that had previously been hidden from be by mainstream history classes. Thus I became an advocate for social change by learning more about structures of oppression and becoming involved in campus activism. I applied to be a Seeding Change fellow because I was worried that my activism was only based in arcane, academic knowledge and was too reactionary, so I wanted to make sure that the work I did was truly for the community. By being a fellow, I hope to be more confident in myself, become more steadfast and determined in my social justice praxis, and gain a clearer picture of how I want the world to change.
Hera Mir
Hometown: Spotswood, NJ
Placement: Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
As a first generation immigrant from Pakistan, I am interested in working to build power in working class South Asian immigrant communities in the US and internationally. I have worked closely with South Asian women facing domestic violence and family abuse in the U.S as an advocate in New Jersey. However, I found the limitation in assisting immigrant women facing domestic violence within U.S systems and institutions to be unfair and debilitating to the survivors trying to escape abusive partners and homes. My interest in this fellowship stems from the hope for better protection of immigrants human rights. Through this fellowship, I hope to gain knowledge, skills and strategies to build power in working class South Asian communities.
Marissa Okazaki
Hometown: Mililani, Hawaii
Placement: VAYLA New Orleans
I applied to the Seeding Change Fellowship in order to learn from seasoned community organizers across the United States and to meet other young people that excited about enacting change in this country. Through this fellowship and by working with VAYLA New Orleans, I hope learn ways to build genuine and sustainable solidarity between different communities. With identity-based groups, sometimes it is difficult move beyond identity and to understand the larger structures that are at play. However by working at VAYLA, a multi-racial community-based organization, I hope to learn ways to bring people together and organize for a larger political goal. Additionally, I am excited to commit myself to more grassroots organizing, which will be a refreshing change from organizing on college campus. There is much to learn and even more work to be done so I am excited to be a part of this fellowship!
Kaitlin Pang
Hometown: Ringoes, NJ
Placement: CPA Boston
I am a second-generation Chinese American woman who was born and raised in New Jersey. I am passionate about youth work, poetry, art as resistance, and community building. I am a rising senior at Tufts University, studying American Studies with a minor in Asian American Studies. During my first two years of college, I started to identify as Asian American and learned about some of the contemporary issues facing Asian Americans, in particular the history of gentrification and displacement in Boston’s Chinatown. I applied for the Seeding Change Fellowship out of a desire to build new relationships and to continue grounding my work in love and community. I am excited to learn more about different ways to participate in organizing and how we can imagine new ways of resistance.
Eliza Paran
Hometown: New York City
Placement: Ugnayan
I was born and raised in New York and I am a rising junior at Stony Brook University, my major being Psychology. What first got me interested in being involved in social justice was when I joined Ugnayan’s youth program. Before joining the youth program I never really had the chance to learn about social issues and discuss them with other people. From the youth program I learned about many different aspects of social justice and it made me want to learn even more. Being one of the members of the AAPI working class community, I understood the struggles that they faced and this fed my want to become more involved, because I could relate. From this fellowship, I hope to gain more experience in developing my communication and organizing skills. I look forward to being more involved within the Asian American community, being able to become a better organizer, and expanding my knowledge of social change and social activism along with ways to help the community.
Gian-Carlo Parel
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Placement: Filipino Community Center
I am a queer, working class Filipinx American hoping to find more comrades to struggle and heal with as we work toward our collective liberation. I am from the Philippines by way of Louisville, Kentucky. I believe that only through militant struggle can the best in the youth emerge, and so I could not be happier knowing that I’ll be working with the Filipino Community Center this summer to help me grow politically and spiritually! Through this fellowship, I hope to sharpen my praxis to dismantle oppressions in two parts of my life: (1) the imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy in the United States and (2) semi-feudalism, bureaucrat-capitalism, and U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. What I hope to build is a praxis of pro-Third World liberation, pro-people of color, pro-queer & trans people of color, pro-working class, and self-determination. Other things I hope to share with folks are cooking yummy vegetarian food, singing/karaoke, building community, naming and healing from our traumas, and radically loving. Aside from siya, I don’t have any preferred gender pronouns.
Heidi Qin
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Placement: Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
I am a rising sophomore at the University of Utah, majoring in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in Education. I’m heavily involved in the Asian American community and social justice organizing in Salt Lake City, and am looking forward to expand my network and experience outside of my immediate community. I was introduced to community organizing through my time as an officer for the Asian American Student Association, as well as a Social Justice Scholar. I’m passionate about equity in higher education, and deconstructing the educational pipeline. I hope to learn the skills to further organize the APIA community in Utah, and create grassroots organizing for sustainable change. I’m looking forward to working with inspiring activists for the advancement of the Asian American community.
Shikha Rawat
Hometown: New York
Placement: DRUM South Asian Organizing Center
I’m a first-generation Indian American, born and raised in NYC. I’ve been a part of DRUM: Desis Rising Up & Moving/South Asian Organizing Center for about 4 years now and am currently a Youth Leader there. As of last summer, I’m also a youth of CAAAV: Communities Against Anti-Asian Violence/Organizing Asian Communities. Through these organizations I was able to work on different campaigns and grow. I never really thought of myself anything more than a youth member but this fellowship made me realize how much I’ve grown and how much more I can grow and build others around me. I hope that I’m able to connect our struggles to broader struggles and introduce new lens through which we can start to analyze different power structures and systems of oppression. I also hope to build connections from other movements to ones the low-income, immigrant, Desi population is facing.
Monie Seto
Hometown: New York City, NY
Placement: Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
I am a first generation Chinese American woman currently studying Black Studies at SUNY New Paltz. The Autobiography of Malcolm X exposed me to Black Studies, and completion of my Black Studies major has inspired me to pursue social justice work, which is how I came to volunteer with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. At CAAAV, I learned of and witnessed the power of community organizing, particularly how community organizing allowed working class immigrants and youth to be heard. Through my experiences with CAAAV, I truly believe community organizing is an effective method of social change because it involves the participation of those in the community.I applied to this Fellowship because I saw the Fellowship as an extension of the work I did with CAAAV and SAMI. I hope to become the most effective community organizer I can become through this Fellowship, since it is my dream to become a community organizer when I graduate, and politically educate.

Ratema Uch
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
My interest in social justice work began in high school through various after school programs about Southeast Asian history and reproductive justice. It was there that I realized that there were so many valuable topics and issues that public school education did not teach me. Throughout high school, I continued to stay involved in social justice work in Oakland Chinatown with the hope of getting others to experience the wide-eyed moments of realization that I did. My work with social justice in the past has been predominantly with youth, and I’m looking forward to expanding my experience and involvement to other members of the community. As a Seeding Change Fellow, I hope to gain additional organizing skills and knowledge about the Asian Pacific American community that I can extend towards a career in social work.
Wayne Yeh
Hometown: Chico, CA
Placement: CPA Boston
I’m a second generation, Lao Chinese American. On campus, I am one of the co-chairs for Asian American Alliance and am involved with United for Immigrant Justice and the Tufts Labor Coalition. In recent years, I embraced my Asian American identity for the first time after growing comfortable speaking up against systems of oppression. I was introduced to CPA Boston by Tufts Asian American alums as well as by my mentor, Professor Jean Wu. I’m excited to return to CPA as a Fellow after a semester abroad at the University of Hong Kong, where I participated in a domestic workers empowerment project. As part of the Fellows cohort, I hope to expand my chosen family and organizing community by building a nurturing support system together. In the future I hope to continue advocating for justice in immigrant working class communities and queer communities of color through grassroots campaigns and intergenerational organizing. I will continue to challenge myself to have these conversations with my family in order to bring the intergenerational work home to the people I care about.

Learn more about the 2015 Host Sites