Staff affinity group spotlight: APISA
On May 28, 2019, UCOP’s Asian and Pacific Islander Staff Association (APISA) hosted a film screening of “They Came for Us,” which discussed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This screening also included a panel discussion featuring Dr. Satsuki Ina, professor emeritus, CSU Sacramento — a prisoner in the Tule Lake internment camp — OGC Staff Counsel Mark Morodomi and guests from local nonprofits.
This film screening was one of many popular events recently sponsored by APISA, which was founded in February 2014 to promote Asian and Pacific Islander (API) representation at UCOP. Benjamin Tsai, now a co-chair, learned about APISA from a friend who encouraged him to attend the group’s first meeting. He became a regular. “APISA is the first staff group that makes Asian culture and identity central to its mission,” Tsai says. “There are plenty of Asian-Americans at UCOP, but before APISA, we had little representation.”
As APISA is one of UCOP’s newer and smaller affinity groups, co-chair Angela Hom explains that they work hard to feature events that promote API culture, while appealing to UCOP staff who may not be as familiar with its traditions.
“It is a fine line to walk to cultivate a broad appeal without being too academic,” Hom says. “We want people to have fun at our events and to walk away feeling educated.”
Collaborating with colleagues in the OP community
APISA often joins with other staff affinity groups — including the Latino Staff Association, Family Resource Network and UCOP Pride — to co-host events. These have included:
- “When Mexicans and Filipinos Join Together: The Farmworker Movement and United in the Making,” featuring Patty Enrado, author of “A Village in the Fields”
- Film screening of “My Beautiful Resistance,” which followed Penny Baldado’s journey to America as an undocumented queer woman of color
- “Elder Care and Aging in Place,” featuring Corinee Jan, CEO, Family Bridges
“We are always interested in partnering with fellow affinity groups in a way that promotes both groups’ missions,” Hom says.
Events that bring culture to life
Many of APISA’s events revolve around the cultures and identities of East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander members, but Tsai says, “We are open to any kind of event that has to do with API cultures.”
Some of the popular cultural events that they have brought to the UCOP community have been:
- Lunar New Year potluck
- “Mid-Autumn Festival: Symbolism of the Moon in Chinese Culture,” featuring Michelle Yeh, distinguished professor at UC Davis and executive director of the Confucius Institute
- Talk with nonprofit Filipino Food Movement
- 2017 Diwali Potluck
- API Heritage Month
- “Painting is my Everything,” featuring Qamar Adamjee, Ph.D., Malavalli Family Foundation associate curator of art of the Indian subcontinent, Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
Hom says these fun-filled events with food and refreshments are a win-win for building a greater sense of community UCOP. They allow API employees to share and celebrate their culture while appealing to UCOP as whole. “People love our events because there is always food,” Hom jokes. “We know how to throw a party!”
“But in all seriousness,” she continues, “APISA events are attended by a wide swath of folks from many departments because they are inclusive and designed to appeal to a broad range of employee interests.”
“Joining APISA means signing up for our listserv so you don’t miss out on any events,” Hom says. “Everyone is welcome at APISA events! We create a safe, inclusive and diverse space for all.”
And, Tsai adds, APISA is always open to ideas for events and help to make them happen. “Even though we have been doing this for a while, it’s hard to put on these events alone,” he says.APISA, community, meet OP, staff affinity groups