I'll be riding again this year in CPA's Chinatown Bike-A-Thon, a 16 mile bike ride along the Charles River to benefit our youth leadership development program, the Chinese Youth Initiative (CYI). CYI is going on its 21st year!
I participated in the program as a high school youth 15 years ago! It helped me understand and learn more about the issues that Chinese working class immigrants face in the U.S. It helped connect me to my roots and my grandparents who were the first to settle as a family in the U.S. in Boston Chinatown, working as garment and restaurant workers. Through the CYI program and working at CPA I could get a glimpse at the struggles my grandparents face even though, at that time, I did not speak Chinese.
Since coming on staff full-time at CPA, CYI has been a source of inspiration. Every summer, we have 8-10 youth interns who go through a transformative summer program that exposes participants to their own history of Asian America and Chinatown that do not learn in school. They also connect their own personal experience to the larger issues in the community and learn how to take action and fight for equal rights for the Chinese American community. I am inspired every year when youth talk about how they learn to have more self-confidence by unlearning the racism they internalized growing and learning to make a difference. Please help support CYI and help grow the next generation of organizers!
**Mark is a Gold Level Youth Hero Rider**