by Dean Price
APANO Member, Classroom to Community (C2C)
My time as an APANO member has created a special place for me within the Portland metro area for the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) community. Having their headquarters in the Jade District is crucial to the API community because it is a space that we can call our own, and the influence APANO has on the youth is second to none. Classroom to Community, or C2C as an organizing body, caters specifically to college students. It is beneficial because it allows a space for younger API generations to talk about the challenges they face as individual students, as well as builds solidarity among API communities in mostly white campuses in not only Portland, but in all of Oregon.
At PSU, often identifying yourself with a community can be challenging because of the various ethnic specific student groups. As a multiracial person, it was common to find friction between different groups, which I found very challenging. C2C provides a space for API students to simply talk about challenges they face in the classroom as well as adjusting to the college atmosphere. College can be stressful on many levels, from academics to adjusting to the social climate. C2C functions as kind of a support group for students, but is also centered in organizing around students ideas of what academic institutions need in order to create an environment where API students feel wanted and can thrive to their fullest.
At C2C, our de facto leader is Paolo Esteban and he serves as a mentor to all of us. He gave me the opportunity immediately to attend APANO’S Lobby Day with staffers and dedicated members and through that I realized how connected APANO was. Shortly after, he gave me another volunteering opportunity to give back at the New American Voter Project (NAVP), a voter registration program that takes place at Naturalization ceremonies. Through this, I was able to apply for an internship at Oregon Voice and with the help of a referral from Paolo. As an intern, I support the day to day operations of NAVP. I am just one example of the positive resources that C2C brings to college students either currently enrolled or recently graduated.