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  • Writer's pictureRising Voices

We Do This Work: A Letter from Rising Voices' Interim Executive Director, Jungsoo Ahn

2022 has begun in earnest and the staff at Rising Voices are preparing for a banner year of advocacy as we organize the Michigan Asian American community. In preparation for the midterm elections and beyond we'll be focusing on issues such as AAPI representation, education, healthcare, voting rights and civic engagement, all of which have a direct impact on our families. In a time of pandemic hardship and uncertainty Rising Voices is working to be a source for support, learning, community strength and progressive change. We bid farewell to our outgoing Executive Director Laura Misumi at the end of February, but our work continues with the guidance of our new Interim Executive Director, Jungsoo Ahn. The staff is grateful to have Jungsoo on board for this period of transition, and have every confidence that she can helm the organization with integrity, experience and leadership. Read on to find more about Jungsoo, her thoughts on Rising Voices' work, and her hopes for the coming year.

Tonight I reviewed our budget and have a few thoughts. As I talked back and forth with Laura Misumi, our force of nature outgoing Executive Director, I reflected on what each of these dollar amounts represent. Line items in a budget align to how the money is to be spent, usually under typical titles such as travel, postage, salaries, and the like. Yet, behind each of these dollar amounts, there are Rising Voices staff members who are doing this work. We know what the work entails, but why do we do this work?

We do this work for elections and campaigns, yes? But, truly why we do this work lies beyond votes, or toppling capitalism, or organizing for power. We do this work because it will give us the opportunity to interact with more members from our AAPI community in Michigan, people who we longed to be in community with but could- for some reason - never manage to find among the sprawl in the state. We do this work because we have yearned for a sense of belonging and a space where we could truly see people for people across our disparate Asian - American communities.

As people who either grew up in Michigan or have made Michigan our home, we often wonder whether your experiences were the same as ours. What were your parents like? How do we honor them? How do we heal from our traumas? And then how do we take care of our kids? Is it actually not true that sending your kid outside with wet hair will make them sick? Was that old country or is it science?

We do this work because we want to fight the bad guy and his crew, but along the way we're trying to find our crew so we can add some strength to the acronym AAPI. We want the others to start saying these things about us: They're badasses. They're known. They fight for the right things and they have a lot of integrity while doing it.

Even through our transitions this year, we're going to try to make every moment beautiful, work as hard as we can, and still try to hold onto hope for a better world. We'll do these things not to be naively optimistic, or to be disrespectful to the grave realities of the world - we will do these things because we will choose to disseminate our funding to meet the vanity and pettiness of capitalism with beauty, mere words with hard work, and doom and gloom with hope.

We hope to do this with you, and we look forward to all that we will be able to accomplish together. May you and your families be well. We are here for and with you.

Jungsoo Ahn

Interim Executive Director

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