Taken from the WHIAAPI website.
On September 22-25, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders traveled to Hawaii for a historic visit. Our 19 member Commission, include ASIA executive director, Michael Byun, works with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to improve the quality of life for AAPIs in federal programs where they are underserved. Hawaii is home to the majority of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. This historic visit is the first time the Commission has directly engaged with leaders in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community.
On September 23, we visited the Ho’oulu Aina (the Kalihi Valley nature preserve) where the Kokua Kalihi Valley Family Services Center staff and volunteers educated us on the local concept of ‘aina(land, earth) and the importance of restoring the land to health and productivity in order to create healthy, resilient communities.
On September 24th, Commissioners held a Listening Session at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, HI. About 175 participants attended with over 50 individuals offering public remarks. The listening session was an opportunity to hear directly from Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders living in Hawaii on their needs, concerns, and recommendations. Speakers shared their thoughts on a diverse array of topics including land rights and affordable housing; education, including the impact of bullying on youth; immigrant rights; the effects of climate change; access to health care; Native Hawaiian sovereignty; and workers issues. To say this experience was eye-opening and informative is an understatement, with many of my fellow Commissioners describing appreciation at the eloquence and passion expressed on these important topics.
The Commission rounded out the week with meetings to identify priority issues to share with the appropriate federal agencies for further action, and share thoughts on our goals and objectives for next year.