What is Community? - Little Tokyo Service Center

What is Community?

camp volunteer coach and young basketball player

What ‘Community’ Means to Me

By Victor Xie*

Community is powerful; it’s healing, empowering, and nurturing. To me, a community is a group of people that come together to collectively uplift one another.

I trace back my existence to the power of community. When my family first immigrated to San Francisco in 1984, the Chinatown community gave them their first jobs. Because of that support, my family was able to provide for future generations, allowing us the resources to attain higher education. Growing up, I never felt disconnected from my identity as a Chinese American because of the strong community in San Francisco Chinatown.

At UCLA, the Association of Chinese Americans has also provided me with this strong sense of community. I’ve found my second family, people who push me to grow in ways I could have never expected. I feel an obligation to give back to this community, to help nurture it further, which is why I encourage them to get involved with communities like LA Chinatown. The model minority myth has allowed much of the Asian American community to forget there are still so many vulnerable populations within our communities, including those who are low-income, non-English speaking, and elderly. It’s our duty to educate ourselves on their concerns, and help uplift them so those concerns are heard.

Similar to Chinatown, Little Tokyo is a vibrant, multiethnic community with a rich history. I actually learned about LTSC in one of my Asian American Studies classes at UCLA! After interning here for the summer, I feel even more determined to continue being involved with my community as the wonderful people at LTSC have done for Little Tokyo. From working on gathering census data, to helping out with their Sake on the Rocks fundraiser, to writing a few newsletter articles of my own, I’m humbled to have gotten the experience to see all of what LTSC has to offer.

It’s important for young people to get involved with their communities because we are in a time of indifference. With all the noise going on in the world, it’s hard to think any of our actions have any weight. But I believe the power of collective caring will always overcome individual indifference. If we all start small, we have a chance to witness the change we want to see in the communities that have nurtured and empowered us. This could be holding a town hall meeting to discuss the community’s issues, or volunteering at a community event, or even finding internships that let you work within a community that’s not your own. Every small step of caring counts.

When I think about why I want to get involved with my community I think of many things. I think of the elders who, like my grandparents, are in need of in-language services or could be evicted because of rising rent. I think of the damage COVID-19 has done in our communities, both in the rise of anti-Asian hate and damage to small businesses. But I also think of the young people, like me, who have the enthusiasm to imagine and build a better world. All of these reasons push me to keep serving others, challenging myself to keep an open mind and heart for the work ahead.

*LTSC Development and Communications team was fortunate to host a LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics) summer intern, Victor Xie, a third year student at UCLA.  In addition to contributing to LTSC’s newsletters, Victor performed research into our community’s demographics, analyzed areas of our website, and provided fresh insight into the issues facing our AAPI community.

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