This week was perhaps the most stressful week of the program.
It started out well with finishing up work from last week, but the upcoming gallery presentation brought some stress among our cohort chat group. As I always do, I put down a list of things I need to do based on the shared notes from our meetings. I started packing two days before and met with some of the cohort to get more organized and I asked if there were anything other things I may have forgotten. I thought that everything was going well, but in reality it wasn’t.
On the day of our gallery date, I arrived to find a rather frustrated few and I was surprised. I felt that there was really nothing to worry about since I felt we were pretty well organized and seeing that some of the other cohorts looked ok, I just went along with them. I could tell there was stress everywhere in the room with each other’s personal frustrations, but I tried to ignore it since I was always told never to sweat it on the day of your performance. One of the cohort said something along the lines of how she cared and implied some of us didn’t. That was annoying and that got to me, but I tried to keep my cool. Someone mentioned that I forgot something that wasn’t on my list, that shook me a little, and later on I’d find out that while it wasn’t on our notes from our meeting, it was said that I should get it. That was my bad.
The event went well as planned, but the stress got to all of us and when we unpacked our grievances, I was told by some of the group members of how frustrated they were of me specifically. I did not see that coming, but I tried to listen. I learned a hard lesson, which was that the manner I speak, look, and interact can have a much bigger impact on a group even if the work shows that I cared. A simple confirmation can go a long way in making sure that other feel that you’re listening and that perhaps giving assurances of how fine we are in a situation won’t change people’s minds. Everyone’s different and react differently to situations, and I failed to account for that.
We were proud of the work we did, but we had a lot to unpack and it was stressful. Afterwards, we discussed our graduation plans and we as a cohort did some team building/team parting exercises where we complimented each other and tapped each other on the shoulder for all the good we felt in each other. That healed a lot of the wounds we gave throughout the week. This week was emotionally exhausting, but we ended it on a good note.
After the gala was over and all the money was raised, there was still plenty of work to be done. But before that, over the weekend, the cohort went to the 626 Night Market and just had the time of our live and I went the Families Belong Together march. Both activities were meaningful to me and I was thankful to be a part of them. We also worked harder on our group project which was only a week and a half away.
Throughout the rest of the week, I worked on creating a post-event report for the work I did and what types of social media traction we had throughout the night and the day after. I was really happy to see the great work we did and Connie, our Programming Coordinator, complimented me on our work which put me in a good mood for the rest of the week. I took inventory again of all the things we had left and put them in boxes so that they can be reused if necessary during the next gala. The mood in air was a lot more relaxed which was good since the office truly deserved it.
I ended this week by hiking to see the Hollywood sign. I took the hardest route because I was dumb, but every step was worth it the moment I reached the top.
The events leading up the gala were not as hectic as I imagined. However, I could sense the pressure and tenseness in the room wherever I went. I continued on with the work I was assigned and corresponding with alumni. On the second day of the week and two days before the gala, our Director of Development told me that some of the alumni had not received an email from me about invitations; I was devastated. I really believed that I had done everything right, but it turned out the list I was given didn’t contain all the alumni from our ELP and LIA programs, so I promptly began to send out official emails to those who didn’t receive them. While we caught this mistake, I felt that I could have been more thorough in crosschecking to make sure that the list I inherited was the most correct one.
By this time, the social media plan was written out and approved. I gave out the instructions to the other interns the day before the gala. When I explained it to them and I was glad to know that they were supportive of the work I was doing. On the day of the gala, we all gathered together and began to help out with the executive boot camp sessions and then for the rest of the gala we helped raise money for LEAP by asking for donations from the attendees.
It was truly an honor to meet so many accomplished Asian Americans from all different fields. One person stood out and that was Sarah Ha, who gave an inspirational speech about her life and the importance of having more Asian Americans in programs like Teach for America. The gala was absolutely perfect and I was proud to work for LEAP.
Over the weekend, the cohort went to the beach which was just amazing. After seeing the beaches of lake Michigan for too long, I had forgotten how awesome real beaches are on the Pacific Coast.
After a weekend of rest, I got right back to work. By this time, I was tasked with answering emails of alumni and trying to get there donations. Our Director of Development told me that the best way to get people to donate is… just ask. After one email correspondence, most alumni would get that I would be asking money from them, so all I had to do was ask. Over the next week, I would help raise around a thousand dollars before the gala had even happened. That was something cool to think about. My director, Nancy, also told me that I should be thinking about a Social Media Plan for the gala. It was difficult for me to think about this since this would include me asking other interns to work throughout the gala on various tasks and that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. But I got over that by thinking about how the cohort would be understanding of my situation as the LEAP intern.
While I was working on the things above, I also visited some of the venues for gala and post-gala activities such as the Sake Dojo for our board lunch. Also, our CEO, Linda, brought her dog Belle so that was real treat. Finally during the week, I got to go to the VC archives and I found a really cool Asian American newspaper called, “Gidra: The Monthly of the Asian American Experience.” I had never seen anything like this before and I found it to be really beautiful.
This week was a very hectic one since I allowed the chaos of gala preparation to get to me. By Tuesday, I was having a difficult time knowing if I had done everything I needed to do and my email was blowing up with gala-related notification. It was getting more and more difficult to keep track of everything that was happening. I started re-organizing like crazy. I created folders for emails, started creating screenshots of important ones and I put those images on a different folder so that it’d be easier to find them. I’d never worked for an office where there was so much communication happening amongst each members, volunteers, and outside people. On top of this, we had a 4th of July break and I was sick the day after so it was a difficult week. I got a lot done by the end of it, but it took a lot of self-organization for me to get there.
Despite a rough week, there was still one big highlight: Independence Day.
I never got to celebrate the 4th of July in the US since I was 10 so this was quiet significant. The political situation in the nation today made is slightly difficult to be proud of the country, but my friends and I tried to enjoy the fireworks at least. I was invited on the roof of one of our cohort’s buildings and we watched all of LA light up. It was truly beautiful and I felt thankful for signing up for the LIA program.
On Week 2, I arrived at the office and I was given a quick introduction by one of our co-workers, Farrah Su, on what I will be doing for the first week. There was a long list of things to do such as ordering a list of gala-related objects on her behalf when she’s not at the office, taking in inventory of what we have at the office, and other work. When our Director of Development, Nancy Yap, arrived, I was given a set of instructions, expectations, and other introductory descriptions of LEAP. For the rest of the week, I hit the ground running trying to do everything that was on the list.
The second day was interesting since we had a meeting with the event coordinator from an outside firm in Pasadena. That’s when I learned that the gala that LEAP was planning would be one that is extremely well thought out. I was given a few pieces of papers with the drawings of what the gala look like with where everything from stage to dessert station to break rooms would be. Other writings showed what type of ornaments they would have and the types of drinks that would be served, and etc. Every detail was there and I knew that my work would play a part in assisting with this gala for the next three weeks.
On top of listening to the details of the gala, I was given the opportunity to try out the different types of food that’d be served at the gala from Panda Inn. That was certainly the highlight of my week.
After a long Spring quarter at my university, I arrived in Los Angeles on June 15th. I explored the University of Southern California (where I am staying) and worked on my final paper for the next two days. After those two days of exploration and work, I arrived at the LEAP office on Monday morning.
When I arrived at 8 AM, it was early in the morning so many of us looked tired and despite this, I could feel the excitement in the room. My cohort, each and every member were kind and eager to learn new skills, and begin working at their new internships. We traveled to a great office space at the US Bank headquarters where we were given a large conference room for our activities for the week. From the room, we could see a large portion of LA and I was surprised and thankful of the amount of support that LEAP was able to gain from corporate sponsors.
Throughout our orientation week, we got to know each of ourselves better as well as the staff and trainers of LEAP. The more I learned about LEAP, I was convinced that this organization will bring a great deal of positive change in my life. Linda Akutagawa, our president, spoke of teaching us “value based leadership” which is about thinking and questioning my own beliefs as wells learning how to have effective interactions with others. Through our trainings, we learned to communicate more effectively, confront others within a workplace in a more beneficial manner for both sides, understand the complex accounting and planning that goes into nonprofits, and many other skills .
We didn’t just take leadership classes though. The cohort lived and hung out together at our airbnb where we went to neighborhood performances such as the Tuesday Night Cafe, a minority-oriented event that attempts to bring out more artists from various communities in LA and the US. We visited the Japanese American National Museum, and had really good dinners at various locations around Little Tokyo and Koreatown as well.
Overall, this was a great start to our eight weeks together!