UPDATED:  June 29, 2008 9:47 PM
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By: Amanda Andrei

WASHINGTON, D.C. On June 18, the Conference of Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) kicked off its Washington Leadership Program (WLP), a series of seminars for APA interns hosted every summer on Capitol Hill.  Over 120 participants crowded into a U.S. Capitol reception room to meet their colleagues and make new friends.

  Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) gave the opening remarks at the introductory seminar, welcoming the young interns and encouraging them to return to the rest of the seminars over the summer.  "As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I cannot stress how instrumental CAPAL has been in cultivating the next generation of leaders," Rep. Honda declared. 

  Les Jin, the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, also emphasized the importance of networking with peers and professionals during their stay in DC and thanked them for their presence.  "By coming to CAPAL's Washington Leadership Program, you have taken the first step towards building those relationships that will last you a lifetime."

  Since 1989, CAPAL has served and supported the APA community by educating and engaging participation among Asian and Pacific Americans.  Jeewon Kim, the CAPAL Chair of the Board of Directors, explains, "Our mission is to increase not only the number of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in public service but to give them opportunities to become leaders in their chosen field."  The original WLP class had only ten interns and ten professionals--and has graduated over 1,700 since its first summer session years ago. 

  For nearly twenty years now, CAPAL has provided students and young professionals in the region and around the country numerous scholarships, fellowships, internships, and networking opportunities.  This summer yields an exciting class of nine interns and four scholarship recipients.  They are currently accepting applications (due mid-July) for fall internships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

  In the meantime, the Washington Leadership Program will host six more free seminars from 6:30-8:30 PM, every Wednesday from June 18 until July 30.  The remaining sessions will take place in 1310 Longworth House Building and feature the topics of economic policy, immigration, the environment, a resume workshop, and terrorism. 

  WLP offers a unique experience for an APA intern.  Many of the interns attending these sessions are involved with prominent APA organizations, such as the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and the International Leadership Foundation.  But there are also a bevy of interns who heard about the Washington Leadership Program by word of mouth or past participants.  Ryan Buyco, an intern from the Asia Society, explained that he learned about the program from his supervisor, and says, I expect to network and make a lot of friends, but most importantly, I expect to share an amazing experience with other APIA student leaders from around the country.

  After a long day in the office, the weekly seminars provide the interns a chance to unwind with their peers, enjoy a free dinner, and learn about issues pertinent to the APA community.  Angeline Vuong, an APAICS intern at the office of Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), attended the CAPAL sessions last summer and found it a wonderful program that supplements an internship or fellowship experience with that of workshops and skill-set building sessions.  With such a broad range of seminar themes, interns have a chance to meet and chat with policy analysts, legislative staffers, consultants, and other professionals from a wide scope of careers.  

  The closing dinner will be held at Hunan Dynasty on Pennsylvania Ave. and highlight the works of the four CAPAL summer scholars: Virginia Lee at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Erin Pangilinan at the Asian American Justice Center, Albert Lee at the Cooperative Forestry Division, and Kyle Huynh at the Urban & Community Forestry Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.  Closing speakers will include Suhail Khan, counselor at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Glenn D. Magpantay, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

  Due to the success of the WLP, CAPAL also initiated a mentorship program in 2006 open to college seniors, graduates, and young professionals in the DC area.  It pairs up these students and new professionals with other experienced members within the APA community and the same career field. There are no deadlines for the programs; all participants are matched on availability.

While the seminars provide a great resource for APA interns in the district, they are also an investment in the community. The Washington Leadership Program offers growth, intellectual stimulation, and networking for the emerging APA leaders, and in turn, support and strengthen the future of Asian America.

For more information on CAPAL and the Washington Leadership Program, visit www.capal.org. WLP Sessions are held every Weds from 6:30-8:30, now until July 30.  The closing dinner will be held at Hunan Dynasty, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.  on July 30.

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