UCA is excited to share some updates on the new youth program from UCA Illinois: Civic Engagement Summer Internship. The program’s mission is: Train, Connect, Collaborate, Empower and United civic leaders and local organizations in USA.

The program provides students internship opportunities in elected officials’ offices or government agencies, whether at the local, city, county, state, or federal levels, and selected nonprofits to inspire students’ interest in government and public policy, to build a pipeline of Asian Americans in public office, and to build strong coalitions with participating agencies, offices, and organizations. The program is made possible with a grant from Civic Leadership USA (CLUSA) .

We want to express our heartfelt thanks to the following offices participated in the program and hosted our interns:

  • Illinois State Representative Theresa Mah’ office
  • Chicago 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas’s Office
  • Illinois Department of Human Services
  • Illinois Department of Corrections
  • Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
  • Illinois Human Rights Commission
  • Illinois Business Immigration Coalition
  • City of Aurora

Now we’d like to invite you to join the graduation ceremony with representatives of these government offices, our interns/students, their mentors and families, future interns and community members on Friday July 26, at 4-6 pm in Chicago.

Please see details about the event on the flyer below. You will hear our honoured officials and speakers from these offices and our interns sharing their inspiring stories and experiences.

Civic engagement has been a key mission for UCA as an organization. Over the last three years, we have done a lot to increase the engagement of Chinese Americans in their communities and civic processes. To more effectively carry out that mission, we also need to get the next generation involved. We would like to help the youth to become more aware of the social and political environments. Having the chance to participate in the processes and understand how governments work is a great way to achieve that. Our interns in Representative Mah and Alderman’s Cardenas offices shared that each citizen’s voice does count and these offices’ daily work is related to every citizen’s daily lives.

Some of our interns also find governments can be a great place to apply the academic knowledge and professional skills that they have acquired at colleges, learn about social justice, and simply grow and network as young adults. For example, the intern at City of Aurora was assigned to work on regulations of commercial signs. It’s a good fit for his Urban Planning major in college. Another student in Biology found relevant work during his internship at Department of Human Services in fighting abuse of controlled substances. Our high school interns learned a great deal at Human Rights Commission about social justice. The parent of one of the two students interning at Department of Corrections shared with me that the internship is the best time he has this summer, and proudly included the experiences on his LinkedIn profile.

The internship was coordinated by Ren Li, VP of UCA IL who works with Jean Ma, Coordinator for Civic Engagement. They also participated in National CLUSA internship training with four of our interns late June. They got the great opportunity to gain insights into how we get more involved in the civic processes around the country, and developed their networks of Chinese American youth communities.

To help interns adapt to the work environment and develop themselves, we had two group trainings and each was assigned with a mentor. The mentors are mostly community leaders with deep experience in government, civic services, or their respective professions. These mentors are Ms. Marjorie Moore of DCFS, Representative Theresa Mah, Ms. Nancy Chen, Ms. Winnie Chan, Ms. Hongbo Wang, Ms. Jing Kong, Mr. Haibo Guo, Ms. Jan Zheng, and Mr. Yaoming Pei.

If you have any questions about the program, you may contact Ms. Ren Li, the program’s coordinator, at illinois.youth@ucausa.org or by phone: 773-242-3278. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the July 26 event! We will start to take names for the application for 2020 summer internship at the event.

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