chinatown_tour

In 2006, a handful of alumni set out to take an informal network of Asian American Yale alumni that had existed since the early 1980s and grow it into a national organization that would “promote the civic participation, leadership and service of Asian Americans and Asians at Yale and in the broader society.” After countless hours spent organizing events, raising funds for summer internships, mentoring undergraduates, and recruiting volunteers to build our organization, we ended 2008 well on the road to accomplishing this ambitious goal.

This annual report, the first one ever for our organization, offers a chance for everyone who’s been part of this amazing effort to look back at all that we’ve accomplished and to reflect on the work still to be done. If you haven’t heard much about AAAYA, we hope this report introduces you to the great things we’re doing and inspires you to lend a hand.

AAAYA and the Community
One of AAAYA’s goals is to focus the talent and energy of Yale alumni to serve Asian American communities. Our sponsorship of summer internships at Asian American community organizations for talented Yale undergraduate students helps these organizations increase their capacity to serve their communities as well as provides students with exciting career-building opportunities.

In cooperation with AYA’s Community Service Summer Fellowship program, AAAYA identified two program sites, the Korean American Community Foundation and the Museum of Chinese America, and raised the funds to cover the two interns’ stipends. Our 2008 interns, Andrea Sohn ’11 and Ming Min Hui ’10, spent eight weeks gaining valuable work experience while also providing tremendous help to their organizations. AAAYA would like to extend a special thanks to the Yale Club of New York for generously offering free housing for the interns and to AAAYA’s own Tina E. Yeh Community Service Fellowship for helping fund the interns’ stipends.

AAAYA also offered its members the opportunity to directly serve the Asian American community. On August 4, AAAYA members in New York volunteered at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s Good Health Day by translating for patients, playing with children, and providing logistical support.

And to give context to these activities, in June, AAAYA conducted walking tours of New York’s Asian American communities (Chinatown in Manhattan, Flushing in Queens). Our alumni tour guides explained the rich histories of these neighborhoods, the many challenges that recent immigrants face, and the ways that Asian community organizations help bridge the gap between immigrant societies and the services they need.

Connecting with Campus
Another important part of AAAYA’s mission is to strengthen the connection between the Asian American student body at Yale & alumni and to open doors of opportunity for them. In addition to the two summer internship opportunities, AAAYA sponsored a spring break externship program in New York, in which seven students experienced professional life with six alumni sponsors in fields ranging from acupuncture to finance. Alumni also participated in other mentorship events, including the Life After Yale dinner in New Haven on February 9 and a sophomore day trip to New York on October 25.

Strengthening Alumni Ties
AAAYA brought Asian and Asian American alumni together for fun and fellowship, including happy hours in May, September, and December in New York and a Bay Area Pan-Asian Alumni BBQ in July in San Francisco in conjunction with the other Ivy League schools.

On September 6, AAAYA hosted a screening of the film “Ping Pong Playa” and VIP reception in San Francisco with co-writer/director Jessica Yu ‘87, star Jimmy Tsai and producer Joan Huang. Proceeds from the event went to the Tina E. Yeh Fellowship, which funds Yale students’ summer internships in Asian-American communities.  AAAYA New York also hosted an internship fundraiser/art reception on April 18 at the MARCH art gallery, featuring the works of artist Tyler Coburn ‘05.

Building a National Alumni Association
AAAYA is more than just a New York-San Francisco based organization. We hope to represent Asian and Asian American alumni wherever they may be, and the way we’re doing it is through starting local chapters where alumni have expressed interest. A group of alumni held an informal kickoff meeting in Chicago on October 25. This hopefully will lay the groundwork for building a strong local organization in 2009. Other regions such as Southern California and Washington, DC, are also laying the groundwork to organize chapters.

To help build these local chapters, AAAYA also strengthened its national organization in 2008. We prepared our 501(c)3 filing with the IRS to become an incorporated nonprofit organization. We formed a board of directors, which met in New Haven on November 14 to form strategy and set goals for 2009. While in New Haven, AYA reaffirmed their support for our growing organization and also made clear that they expect big things from us.

This is great, because we expect great things from us as well! And in turn, we expect great things from our members, the alumni who give their time, energy, and yes, money, to help build this organization. When we look back on 2008, we know we’ve accomplished a great deal, but also realize that we need to do even more in 2009 to bring the promise of this organization to our alumni community, the Yale community, and the Asian American community.