This year, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance’s (APALA) Seattle Chapter gave $2,000 scholarships to two outstanding college students that are making a difference in our communities.

APALA is a national membership organization that unites the labor movement with the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community – in order to support worker organizing and political action; to advocate for worker rights, civil rights and immigrant rights; and to build long-term labor community alliances.

Through affiliation with Dollars for Scholars, a program of ScholarshipAmerica, our chapter created a memorial fund to honor Stephen Nadal – a community activist and APALA member who passed away at the young age of 35 on Nov. 5, 2004. Stephen’s enthusiasm and infectious smile drew people to work in coalition to register people to vote, phone-bank and doorbell for the 2004 election. Stephen helped to bridge the mile between the young and the seasoned activists by strengthening the ties of understanding and increasing activism within the API community.

The Stephen Nadal Memorial Scholarship was awarded to two students who are active in the community and take up the cause of social justice with the same passion and spirit as Stephen. We are proud to introduce to you the awardees for 2006.

For information on how to apply for the 2007 scholarship rounds or to donate to the scholarship, visit www.apalaseattle.org, or contact Joyce Tseng at [email protected]

Hien Kieu
Hien is currently at South Seattle Community College and is planning on becoming a nurse. She works at Refugee Women’s Alliance and also volunteers in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Hospital.

Why is it important for us to focus on labor rights of API workers?
It’s important to focus on labor rights of all people no matter what color. We need to focus particularly on Asian Pacific Islander workers because many of us are immigrants, and this is a foreign country to us. It is much more difficult to work here then in our native environment. Most importantly, we are intelligent, hard-working and quality employees.

What are you involved with now?
I am the president of Chamyouth.com, a Web site that began six years ago. My partners and I were wondering why there wasn’t a Web site for the Cham people, so we decided to put forth effort and time in a Web site that will benefit our community. The Web site provides resources for Cham people, and contains almost anything people want to know about the culture, history, traditions and the land of Champa. Chamyouth.com also works closely with the Champa Human Rights group by announcing news about them and the issues that takes place among the Cham people worldwide.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Besides continuing to work for the Cham people, I want to be a nurse to educate people about the importance of health and also work with children. My father was a nurse in Vietnam, and I want to be in the medical field like him.

Katrina Pestano
Katrina currently attends Antioch University as a social justice major. She is active in Pinay Sa Seattle (formerly the Seattle Chapter of Gabriela Network), does human trafficking research for the University of Washington Women’s Center, and is a policy intern for the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center.

Why is it important for us to focus on labor rights of API workers?
There are specific issues of immigrants, refugees and other marginalized populations that aren’t being addressed in the mainstream labor movement. Through Pinay Sa Seattle, I was involved with trying to get a Filipino hotel worker’s job back after she was fired unfairly at the Westin. At this hotel, 80 percent of the housekeepers are immigrants and mostly women. They are given such huge work loads they aren’t able to take breaks. We will continue to push for better working conditions for all the workers there.

What are you involved with now?
One of the groups I am active with is Pinay Sa Seattle. We focus on educating people about human rights violations and issues of occupation, and how it particularly affects Filipinas in our homeland and the diaspora. We also do a lot of work with the community with regard to violence against women. Through this organization, I am organizing a hip-hop event in mid-November to address women’s struggles with sexism and heterosexism, as well as celebrate their triumphs in hip-hop. Not only will women perform, but they will speak about who they are and how they got to where they are at. In Seattle, women have been doing hip-hop for years — but they are not visible. Especially in the mainstream, hip-hop is very male-dominated and commercialized but it’s bigger than that. We need to remind people that hip-hop came from oppressed communities as a way for people to have a voice.

How did you get involved, and how can we get more youth more involved?
There needs to be something to engage youths’ attention that will get them thinking about the issues. My political consciousness started from listening to hip-hop music. I got involved through the arts and my love of writing and music. APIWFSC, Seattle Young People’s Project (SYPP), and other groups use hip-hop to draw youth because it’s big with youth. It’s also important to support the youth on issues they care about. For instance, support SYPP and the events they organize to show them that you are supporting their causes, as that is the only way they will feel connected with you. Also, go to youth-led events as you can learn from them – there is always such good energy. Also, there are already lots of youth engaged and working on political issues they just have to be even more connected.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be a lawyer, so I can work on the issues I’m currently working on which includes immigrant rights, violence against women, and juvenile and restorative justice. I may be interested in doing policy work. It depends on how these next years go, and what I find I’m best at. I also see myself writing about these issues, tying in law and activism, and teaching people how it all connects..

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