“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens could change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
This quote has always resonated with me since my first time seeing it at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This quote validated for me the work I was doing. This told me: “Marc, you and your team can and will change the world.”
Just one week ago, I was blessed to have attended the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) 11th National Empowerment Conference - “We Break the Dawn: Master Planning the Future.” Something unique to this year’s Empowerment Conference was the implementation of the Empowering Filipin@ Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) Pre-Conference on Thursday, August 7th. The purpose of this pre-conference institute was to facilitate collaboration between regional Filipino American student organizations and encourage networking and sharing of best practices for student organizing. And it did exactly that.
I don’t know if anyone realizes, but we made history that day. For the first time in history, the leaders of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, Inc. (FIND), the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans (MAFA), the Southern California Pilipin@ American Student Alliance (SCPASA), Northwest Filipino American Student Alliance (NWFASA), and the Philippine Students - Texas (PST) were in the same room sharing their experiences, tribulations, accomplishments, and best practices of their respective organizations. I was honored to have the opportunity to share the stage with my fellow Filipino-American student leaders from across the country.
Up until that moment, I never realized how privileged FIND was as an organization to have such a big network and an established structure. For the past 20+ years, FIND has been growing larger, evolving and striving to be better with every passing year. I always knew that there were other Filipino-American student organizations in different regions. Last year during my first term as National Chairperson of FIND, I made an active effort to connect with the other regional student organizations. But I never truly got to know them - time, space, and lack of funds separated us from bonding and really knowing the true person behind our public image.
Although I had met two of my fellow panelists before, it was a short, brief encounter that didn’t give us a chance to really delve into the inner workings of each other’s organizations. I spent most of my time at EPYC and the rest of the Empowerment Conference bonding and getting to know these people, young leaders like myself. It was only then that I was truly empowered to make a difference. As I have shared with my fellow leaders before, I was suffering from a tremendous case of community burnout. I was dealing with long-term exhaustion in the Filipino-American student community and a diminishing interest in the work I used to be super passionate about. Even with my self-care time away from community organizing, I still found that the community wasn’t as fulfilling as it used to be. In connecting with these amazing young leaders, I’ve come to the reality that I’m not the only one who’s experienced burnout. These people have helped rekindle my passion and instill in me the Filipino value of kapwa - togetherness, community. It’s not about “me” any more, it’s about “us.”
I would like to take this time out to thank UniPro, the EPYC Coordinators, and NaFFAA for flying me out in the first place. It is truly an honor to have been part of an amazing conference such as this one, both as a presenter and a delegate. I would also like to thank every single person - youth or seasoned leaders - that I’ve met. It was so humbling to have shared this space with you and learn from you all. I hope that I have touched your life in some way just as much as you have touched mine. I am so thankful and grateful for my experiences in San Diego. Those memories are something that can never be taken away. Thank you all for renewing my faith, passion, and drive to make this community better and moving forward.
Cheers to the community! May we always keep moving forward, breaking the dawn, and master planning our futures as well as the future of Filipinos everywhere. Together, we stand as OneFilipino. Let’s change the world. #iamEPYC #weareEPYC
"It's not about intention, it's about IMPACT." - Leezel Ramos
"Let's stop being organizational leaders in the community, and start being community leaders in organizations." - Steven Raga
Marc Densing is a rising senior at CUNY Baruch College in New York City studying Corporate Communications with a minor in Asian and Asian American Studies. Representing District Three, he is currently serving as the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND), Inc.’s National Chairperson for a second term. Outside of FIND, Marc also works with young leaders in the community who wish to further their growth through LEGACY | NY, an organization dedicated to the professional development and mentorship of rising and future Filipino-American youth leaders in NYC. In his spare time, Marc loves long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners. #iamEPYC
All photos courtesy of: Marc Densing