It is often said the world is made up of two types of people: leaders and followers. Determined to be the former, I've involved myself in community organizing throughout my undergraduate career, particularly within the Pilipino community. Like many youth leaders new to the game, I encountered frustrating issues like a loss of motivation from fellow team members, minimal interest or knowledge of cultural history, disorganized planning, and lack of collaboration. The worst part? These problems persisted because of the quick turnaround time for student leaders. Once a team learned from their mistakes, the incoming team would end up committing the same mistakes only months later. Then, student leaders would graduate, take on greater community leadership roles, and pass along those practices to form a cycle of inefficiency. There was no solution, that's just the way it was. Until now. LEGACY – Leadership, Education, Guidance, and Critical thinking for the Youth – is a new organization tackling these issues at their core. LEGACY aims to build a collective of action-driven people to raise new standards for community leaders through mentorship and development programs.
The organization is the brainchild of Kristina Joyas, who in October 2013 tapped Marc Densing, Christine Sicwaten, and myself to form a founding team. Joyas's experience includes the National Organizing Committee for AF3IRM, as well as serving as UniPro's own founding Vice President and former Director of Staff Development. The rest of us are currently rooted in the college sphere. Densing serves as the National Chairperson for F.I.N.D. Inc. Sicwaten (also a UniPro staff member) is on the Executive Board of F.I.N.D. District Three and was the former president of Stony Brook's PUSO. Lastly, I'm currently serving as president of NYU's International Filipino Association. We combined our forces, identified red flags, and shared our passion for leadership to build the foundation of LEGACY, officially launching this year.
In the wake of LEGACY's launch, we'd like to announce upcoming initiatives including:
- "Leave Your Legacy" Series – This lecture series invites prominent and seasoned senior community organizers to impart their invaluable knowledge and experiences, TED talks-style.
- Project LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) – This is a summer-intensive project for rising leaders. It features weekly workshops which fostering necessary hard skills to encourage success among members of a group or organization.
- LEGACY Fellowship – This fellowship invites a small cohort of aspiring leaders to participate in an individualized 10-month-long mentorship, building a foundation of Pilipino cultural education and continual leadership development.
- National youth conferences – LEGACY will be facilitating leadership workshops at major youth leader conferences. Earlier this month, we attended the Southern California Pilipino American Student Association (SCPASA) Summit 2014, and will be heading to the East Coast Asian American Students Union Conference (ECAASU), Kapihan at Cornell University, and other upcoming events for the year across the nation.
Now more than ever, LEGACY is needed to create a collective of leaders up for the challenge of matching the Fil-Am community's growing scope and expanding needs. LEGACY's big picture envisions national coalition and goals to build a model to be used in other communities outside Pilipinos. For now, however, we are calling you to action. If you know someone itching to be a leader, someone already doing community work, or someone who has the potential and just might not know it yet – point them in LEGACY's direction.