Interviewer: Siena Iwasaki Milbauer
February 25, 2021
At AAOP, we are committed to uplifting and supporting the incredible advocacy work of Asian American youth. We’re highlighting some individual organizers in an ongoing series of interviews. In this installment, we speak with Annie Chen. Annie is part of Climate Generation’s YEA Network.
Please introduce yourself!
Hello! My name is Annie Chen, I use she/her pronouns, and I am a junior from Rochester, Minnesota.
How did you get involved with the YEA network? What motivated you to join?
I have always noticed an underrepresentation of Asian American women in politics. As an Asian American who noticed this vast disparity, I was really moved to become involved in topics that I was passionate about. I decided to join YEA Network to not only advocate for climate justice, but to also promote diversity in a generally non-diverse field.
What kind of work do you participate in as a part of the YEA Network? Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?
As a member of the YEA network, I have been a part of writing Climate Justice Education legislation, launching a grassroots campaign to promote our legislation, planning the Youth Climate Justice Summit event, and speaking to other youth across Minnesota to help them find ways to get involved with climate activism.
One of my favorite projects has been writing our Climate Justice Education bill. This bill (the HF550 and SF666) was created to introduce climate education into public and charter schools from 1st through 12th grade. The bill also seeks to address social inequities and how these issues relate to climate.
How does your identity as a young Asian American affect your activism?
I think that as an Asian American, my personal experiences have made me understand how necessary social justice is in order to promote an equitable, just environment. As [part of] an underrepresented minority, I personally understand how important it is to uplift BIPOC voices. I realize that my experiences as an Asian American are unique to me, which has made me understand the importance of listening to the experiences of other underrepresented individuals.
What inspires you and motivates you as an activist?
I often get inspired when I hear the initiatives of other activists. Many of us are trying to reach a common goal of creating an equitable and inclusive future. When I hear so many success stories and listen to these successes’ impacts, it inspires me to continue to work hard.
What is a change you want to see and help create in the world?
I hope to make politics approachable and casual. Politics is personal and impactful, which means that everyone’s voices need to be heard. I hope to encourage other youth to use their voices, organize, and speak on topics that are important to them.
(Image credits: Annie Chen, Climate Generation, YEA Network)
Learn more about the YEA Network and Climate Generation!
YEA Network Website: https://www.climategen.org/our-core-programs/youth-environmental-activists/
Climate Generation Main Website: https://www.climategen.org/