On April 11, 2014 at 5pm, I attended the 21st Annual Dinner 'Reach New Heights' of CAUSE, Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment. It was held at the prestigious Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
When my editor told me about this event, I had no idea what CAUSE was. I just knew that there was going to be dinner. However, I then saw on the press release that Michelle Kwan, the figure skater was going to be there. I was completely stoked. I love her! I grew up watching her on television and had no other Asian American celebrity as a role model. Yes, there were actors and actresses such as Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu, but Michelle Kwan was a graceful and strong version of my young self. I aspired to be in the spotlight like her. Now that she is no longer skating, Michelle Kwan is heavily involved in organizations such as CAUSE, which empowers Asian Americans to make a difference in our community.
I arrived at 5pm only to be told that dinner was not ready until 7pm. I guess I should have eaten something before I went. I observed as over 500 guests slowly strolled in, including some of the most prominent leaders in civic, business, legal, and political communities throughout Southern California.
When the night finally started, special guest speakers included Eric Garcetti (Mayor, City of Los Angeles), Michelle Kwan, (Figure Skating Champion and Senior Advisor and First Public Diplomacy Envoy, U.S Department of State) and Mike Honda, (U.S Representative, 17th Congressional District of California). Grace Meng was awarded with the Inspirational Leadership Award for becoming the first Asian American woman from the state of New York to serve in Congress!
One of CAUSE’s paramount missions is to develop young leaders from Asian American communities to run for political office.
When I jumped onto the stage after the event, I took pictures depicting myself speaking on stage. I threw my arms in the air as if to make a huge impression to the hundreds of people in the audience. Mike Honda, U.S. Representative asked me “what are you running for?” I replied, “I have no idea...yet!” He then proceeded to tell me that I was very uninhibited, free and animated! Those were his exact words. I actually had no idea who he was until someone told me. I finally met a politician who is down to earth. I was very surprised and excited, maybe I can be a funny politician like Mike Honda!
How was the CAUSE EVENT? Taking a photo with Michelle Kwan was like a dream come true. I kept squealing under my breath! Important and influential people in our society tend to be very poised, professional and don't seem to complain about anything.
Politicians and community leaders dedicate their time to making improvements in our community, they are problem-solvers and have a very good head on their shoulder. They are level-headed and observant. It's like that adage- “think before you speak”, they definitely do that! It was an honor to be around so many people of high influence, energy and stature!
I have always considered running for office, but never knew what the political world looked like. Now that I see there are down to earth people like Mike Honda and Michelle Kwan, I can be an advocate of change by running for political office before I turn 30. Thank you CAUSE for causing me to see that changing the world is not difficult; it only takes hundreds of motivated and passionate people that have a heart to empower others and take action to accomplish change!