“I think it’s really cool, seeing connections being made and in a loving way. It’s not like the organization is only invested in people to the extent which they can provide skills; the organization is also interested in developing leadership and love and community.”

VoTMCynthiaCYNTHIA FONG is a Bay Area native and 1st generation Asian American who graduated from Brown University in 2014. She currently works at Sutter Health, where she is a project creator, and does work as a freelance graphic designer. Cynthia started volunteering with us during the summer of 2015, and since then, has contributed to the Dragon Fruit Project, worked on our media and graphic materials, and has become the newest member of our Communications Committee!

In college, Cynthia majored in Community Health and Ethnic Studies and was involved with an organization called Health Leads, in which she worked with local families to provide resources to increase healthcare and food access. Health access has always been an area of interest for Cynthia, stemming from her experiences with her own family and community.

Cynthia also spends her time volunteering with the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), where she does graphic design work and helps to outreach for campaigns. She describes the work she has done with Health Leads, CPA, and APIENC as work that helps her to “be a part of and develop people’s power.”

After attending a summer Dragon Fruit Project Transcribing Day, Cynthia began volunteering more regularly with us. She enjoys working with APIENC because she appreciates the sense of community fostered at events, in the office, and in interpersonal conversations. According to Cynthia, building connections with community elders has also been very important important:

“In the past year, I’ve been learning how to develop relationships with elders in the movement because I think there’s a lot of knowledge, a lot of expertise, and a lot of work that we can learn from. History is unique because it can shape a lot of the work that we do now. A lot of the work that is on the ground has been built up by people who are still here, by people that are our elders, and I feel like I had previously forgotten that. It takes a lot of work to build intergenerationally and I think the Dragon Fruit Project does that—I think it does that in a way that makes that knowledge accessible.”

In thinking about the future of the LGBTQ API community, Cynthia has hopes that people will be able to find chosen family and community that can provide love and support for each other. According to her, this can be guided by intentional and individual community building, by folks reaching out to each other and saying, “Hey, I think you’re cool. Let’s go grab dinner or coffee. Let’s chat. Let’s have a conversation about where you come from.”

We appreciate your dedication, hard work, and intentional building with us, Cynthia!

FUN FACT: One of Cynthia’s most memorable moments with APIENC community was a make-believe dragon boat scenario, which she describes as “very elaborate” and “kind of awesome.”