The Revival of the YouthCAN blog and a recap of late 2012-present.

It has been a long time since anyone has updated the YouthCAN blog and there are very good reasons as to why. Brace yourselves, this is a lengthy post.

After the last post about the summer session Karen made, Mario and Mikala were preparing for the fall session and Mario was preparing for his departure. With so much on his plate, the priority of the blog was pushed to the bottom of the “to-do list.” We are now in 2014 with Jennifer Chen (aka me), as the new YouthCAN Assistant Coordinator and Minh Nguyen, as the new YouthCAN Coordinator.

As you all can see, lot has changed since the last post, so I’ll just give a recap of everything that has happened. Mario Pilapil, the previous YouthCAN Assistant Coordinator, left YouthCAN early 2013 for graduate school, and this past 2014, he graduated! He’s going to be a history teacher! Congratulations on everything Mario, all of us at YouthCAN wish you the best.

Mikala Woodward the previous YouthCAN Coordinator is now the Exhibits Developer and Oral History Manager, we still see her occasionally, but of course, she’s missed.

Around the same time Mario left, I was hired as the new YouthCAN Assistant Manager. I did not participate in the fall session because Mario believed that I needed a little break from YouthCAN and some time to adjust to the college environment (because at the time I just begun my freshmen year at the University of Washington), so I was not present during the poetry unit.

(Suzy Hu, Mario Pilapil, Jennifer Chen- YouthCAN Assistant Coordinators past to present.)

Starting 2013, in January, I stepped into this role and it was something completely different. I guess you could say I saw YouthCAN through a new set of eyes. I was lost and I did not know all the “ins and outs” of this position, but slowly, I worked myself into it. This allowed for me to take on more tasks such as reviving the blog and trying to put YouthCAN out there through social media. In other words, trying to keep YouthCAN “up to date” in this current tech savvy society.

(Follow us on Instagram: YouthCANSeattle)

Starting off, I was completely lost about my place in YouthCAN. I entered a strange and never traveled to area of the YouthCAN spectrum. Of course I was a YouthLEAD before, but somehow the Assistant Coordinator position appeared completely different yet familiar, (actually it was completely different in some aspects). I was the first person who advanced as a participant to the Assistant Coordinator role… so the advice from Mario only helped so much.

Questions that I always asked consisted of whether I was I a friend or an authoritative figure to the people who were once my peers/fellow participants. How was I to assert myself in a way that allowed for me to be friends with everyone, yet do my job? I found myself reluctant to say certain things I normally would when talking to my friends. As an Assistant Coordinator, they were participants in a program I was helping to facilitate and it was not professional say certain things.

Eventually, I found my happy medium. Everything is about respect. My friends respected me enough for me to assert myself in this authoritative role, and as YouthCAN’ers, they respected me enough to know when I’m on the clock, I’m still their friend, but a friend with boundaries and a friend that is working. I think this is one of my greatest accomplishments since taking on this position; being able to differentiate the roles each of us played since I took on the position.

During the fall session in 2012, they worked with Stephany Koch Hazelrigg on a poetry unit where the youth dived into exploring their identity and broke out of their comfort zone by writing and reading some of their most personal work. Three of the participants, Yulong Tan, Sheenie Yip and Nicholas Kaman, read their beautiful pieces at the Wing Luke’s 2013 Annual Auction.

After the session with Stephany, I stepped into Mario’s position January 2013. Where my first task at hand was to plan the YouthCAN Sleepover/Mario’s going away party. This task was not totally foreign since the sleepover started my year as YouthLEAD, where I took part in planning.

For the winter 2013 session, we worked with Romson Bustillo and we explored altars from the many different cultures across the world. The youth, after seeing the different types of altars, started creating their own masterpieces and all alters were exhibited in “Altar Ego: A _____ Sanctum.” The youth were required to build something that represented who they were as a person, their identity, and they were required to build something that represented themselves in a way that:

  1. We can all see
  2. Their hidden side

Referring to the exhibit title, “Altar Ego,” I’m sure you can all guessed it! A lot of the youth based their altars off of their hidden side thus letting their true colors shine through their altars.

(Zenwa Shimabukuro putting up the title of the Altar Ego exhibit.)

During spring in 2013, we worked with Kirsten T. Ramirez in creating murals that were based off of the Chinese Zodiac, “Modern Zodiac Animals.” The color scheme was relatively complementary. Backgrounds were littered with amazing designs, ranging from geometric to abstract. The purpose of the project was to show a physical representation of tradition and culture and a mix of identities. Though we are all culturally different, there is that same similarity in all of us- the American counterpart. The murals portrayed the animals of the Zodiac, but did not have the full details that the full Chinese version would have, there was an underlying sense of the American culture rooted within the traditional physicalities of the animals. There were a total of 12 paintings.

(Modern Zodiac Animal exhibit opening)

(Introduction of the 2013-2014 YouthLEADS- Yulong Tan, Miranda Ho, and not photographed, Peter Hou.)

(Jennifer Chen and Kela Wong putting up pieces at the Wing’s storefront.)

Somewhere during Romson and Kristen’s studio, we had a wonderful intern, Dylan High, who worked closely with the program! He interviewed YouthCAN and he now works at the Nordic Heritage Museum!

This was also around the time we hired three new YouthLEADS, Miranda Ho, Peter Hou, and Yulong Tan and sent off Nicholas, Karen and June.

In the summer of 2013, the youth worked with Carina del Rosario on a photography unit. We started off learning the basics of composition and elements that make a photograph a good photograph. The youth got to play around with cameras and learned how to create masterpieces with a click of a button by using their compositional skills and their newfound ISO and Shutter Speed adjusting skills. YouthCAN went on numerous field trips around the Seattle area ranging from Capitol Hill, to Downtown’s Pike Place, to Columbia City and even Mt. Rainier where the group got to camp out. We also went to a Travyon Martin rally and explored the various events in Seattle and the beautiful underground Seattle that not many people see. In the end, the youth decided to create an exhibit based off of the unique and hidden scenes in Seattle that a lot of people overlook. From that, the youth selected a few of the best photos and displayed them in the exhibition space, “Beyond the Grey: The Essence of Seattle.

(Trayvon Martin Rally)

(Exploring downtown- Yulong Tan, Tyler Jong, Jennifer Chen, Karen Liang)

(Taking pictures at Mt. Rainier camping trip- Zenwa Shimabukuro, Kevin Chu, Kevin Li, Benjamin Jin, Jennifer Chen, Miranda Ho)

(At Bruce Lee’s grave- Jennifer Chen, Yulong Tan, Kevin Li, Benjamin Jin, Tyler Jong)

(The whole group after the hike- Jennifer Chen, Yulong Tan, Mario Pilapil, Carina del Rosario, Kevin Chu, Kevin Li, Benjamin Jin, Mikala Woodward, Zenwa Shimabukuro, Miranda Ho, Rachel Lee, and Peter Hou)

One of my personal favorites was the autumn 2013 session, where we worked with Joseph Guanlao on a video project on the history of Asian Americans. We started off brainstorming the many topics that could have been addressed through the videos ranging from immigration, the Chinese railroad workers, segregation in schools, discrimination against certain ethnicities, personal family stories, and so much more. YouthCAN was then divided into three groups, the Immigration to America group where Miranda Ho, Nicky Dang, and Duy Tran made a video telling their family’s immigration story. Yulong Tan, Charlie Vo, Brandon Chen, and Jonathan Cortes worked on the segregation in schools. They put together Past in the Present, which focused on Franklin High School’s student demographics and compared the past to the present. The last group, Candice Lee, Xin Yan Wu, Ashley Kwan, Sheenie Yip, Rachel Lee, and I focused on our family’s interpretation of the American Dream in the short film, Take Nothing for Granted. In that video, we interviewed our families who told their story and expectations upon arriving in America and what they view as the American Dream.

During the transition from fall 2013 to winter 2014, Minh Nguyen hopped on board the YouthCAN group taking Mikala’s position.

During the winter and spring 2014 sessions, the youth worked with Kathy Liao and created the exhibit, Maskquerade: Hidden Identities. In this exhibit, the youth made masks that portrayed who they viewed themselves to be, whether it is a super hero, a villain, or a cartoon. This project allowed for the youth to have fun and dive into their childhood (and current) role models and project who they are through a mask. For example, I did the pink power ranger because as a kid, I grew up wanting to save the world and fight crime which parallels with my current passion for the law and wanting to save the world by taking action and speaking up on social problems. In the second session with Kathy, we created a huge mural and collaged pictures from our personal lives in the background.

(Posing in the masks- Peter Hou, Ashley Kwan, Jennifer Chen, Yulong Tan, Aser Agustin, Brandon Chen, Jonathan Cortes)

(Posing in the masks- Yulong Tan, Jonathan Cortes, Minh Nguyen, Peter Hou, Ashley Kwan, Jennifer Chen, Aser Agustin, Brandon Chen)

(The mural)

(The group- Back: Peter Hou, Candice Lee, Cassandra Wu, Jennifer Chen, Yulong Tan, Aser Agustin Front: Cecilia Wu, Xin-Yan Wu, Ashley Kwan, Kathy Liao, Tyler Jong, Jonathan Cortes)

After the sessions with Kathy, Minh and I planned various field trips and started “Snackchat.” Snackchat is basically a Socratic seminar style discussion, where we eat snacks and discuss a topic that we are interested in. The first one we had was about the Elliot Roger’s incident. The Snackchat consisted of meaningful thoughts and it touched my heart in ways I cannot explain. We did an activity where we filled in the blank to the sentence, “To prevent future Elliot Roger’s we should______.” It was concluded that Elliot’s way of thinking, and his perspective on women was not okay and that discussions like this allows for us to educate each other and try to prevent things like this from happening.

(After Teen Night Out at the SAM- Yulong Tan, Jennifer Chen, Miranda Ho, Tyler Jong, Cecilia Wu, Nicky Dang, Cassandra Wu, Xin-Yan Wu)

(Before Teen Night Out at the SAM- Benjamin Jin, Kela Wong, Nicky Dang, Cassandra Wu, Cecilia Wu, Tyler Jong, Xin-Yan Wu, Jennifer Chen, Miranda Ho)

(Jennifer Chen and Xin-Yan Wu at the photo booth at SAM’s Teen Night Out)

(Yulong Tan, Tyler Jong, Miranda Ho, Jennifer Chen, Nicky Dang at the photo booth at the SAM’s Teen Night Out)

(Jennifer Chen, Nicky Dang, Miranda Ho at the SAM’s Teen Night Out photo booth)

Recently, we sent off the YouthLEADS Miranda, Yulong and Peter and brought on Ashley Kwan, Candice Lee, and Xin-Yan Wu. We are about to start summer session and you can expect a lot of FREQUENT posts from us and the YouthCAN members.

Congratulations to all to all my intelligent seniors aka the leaders of tomorrow, who graduated and are starting college autumn 2014 (yay class of 2014!): Miranda Ho, Nicky Dang, Yulong Tan, Charlie Vo, Jonathan Cortes, Benjamin Jin, Tyler Jong, Khanh Trinh Nguyen, Peter Hou, and Iris Kwong!

And yes, congrats to you too Mario Pilapil.

See you all soon and if you read this whole recap/update, you are awesome!

With lots of love, Jennifer Chen.

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3rd Week of YouthCan Summer Studio 2012!

7/23 -7/25

We continued to develop 5 different concepts to propose to the US National Park Service. We each worked extremely hard on our models with our artist Stewart. We came up with unique ideas which were inspired from our experience at Whidbey Island. We all learn a lot of different things and that showed through our art pieces. Along with our models that we have created, we also constructed 2D diagrams to show dimensions of the actual size of theart piece. We continue prepared for our presentations for Thursday. 


Today is THE BIG DAY! We finished last minute touches on our models. We waited nervously for the US National Park Services Representatives because we have been working hard for the past couple of weeks for this day. When they arrived, we each presented our ideas and everyone did fantastic! Afterwards, we had time to chat with Craig and Lynn about our ideas. Everything went smoothly

We did it! What a wonderful week, Can’t wait till next week :)

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1st Week of YouthCan Summer Studio 2012!!

Monday 7/9

It was the first day of YC! Our studio artist Stewart Wong gave presentation of his public artwork and we continue with potato self portraits. Also Mario gave an excellent history lesson about the Chinese immigrant workers in the Northwest region.

Tuesday 7/10

On the second day, we decorated Asian-theme Journals with interesting pattern papers and cloth. As preparation for tomorrow’s camping trip, Mikala and Mario went over camping essentials and answered everyone’s questions and concerns. It went well.


Wednesday 7/11

It’s the first day of the camping trip! We gather at the Wing at 10:30 and we stacked all our stuff and food we need for the next three day into two vans. After a long rides and ferry we finally arrived at Ebey’s Landing Campsite. We set up tents and decided that we will all hike to the beach. The smoke covered our eyes as we wanted hot dogs for dinner. And we drank hot Cocoa as we played Mafia.

Thursday 7/12

We start today with an introduction and tour around Ebey’s Landing from Greg Holqilst. We discover Ah Soot ( A chinese worker for the LeSourd family) was buried among the LeSourd’s family grave. Ah Soot was one of the few Chinese workers who didn’t go back to China to be buried. He was recognized most for his love towards the children on the island as they remind the Chinese workers of their children back home. Then we drove to Coupville where we had lunch near a dock and tour at Island County Historical Museum. We wrap up the day with Capture the “Potato” and was served Baked potato and chili for dinner.

Friday 7/13

On the Final day we waked up to sounds of the thunder storm and mild rain. We packed up and took the Ferry to the Port Townsend Museum. We discover much of the hidden history as decedents of the former Chinese workers gave speech of their ancestry. Then we enjoyed lunch and the beach at Ellen Ferguson’s House. On the way back to Seattle we had a little break just before the ferry ride. Most of us felt relived since we are back to the cities again. Some of us went to Starbuck and the lucky ones went to Cold Stone’s Ice cream where Mikayla brought ice cream for everyone. After two hours we arrived at the WLM at 5:30 pm. It was a long trip, but adventurous and educating. Thanks YouthCan.




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RadioActive Audio Storytelling Workshop

Download the RadioActive Audio Storetelling Workshop Application!

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Interesting in learning more about Racism and learning more ways to undo it?

Than apply to the Freedom School:

At Freedom School (Dec 28th-30th, 10am-4pm), you’ll explore:

-Roots of poverty


-Know your rights with the police

-Prison industrial complex

-How you can make a change

-More history :]

-Oppression in the education system

Freedom School is for youth ages 15-21 to learn about racism and organize to undo it. You’ll take fieldtrips, learn community organizing skills, listen to speakers and elders and share culture. Free to attend. Free lunch and snacks.

Please fill out the attached application or get a physical copy from Mario or Mikala at YouthCAN and turn it in by December 16th! Space is limited to 25 students.

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Check Out This Great Way to Present your Photos!

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“The Hard Part Is Getting In”

Asian Americans navigate the racially charged politics of the college admissions process.

Click the picture to go read this interesting article from Hyphen, Asian American Unbridged

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