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10/03/2014: UMCP Hosts 2014 “Merienda with Ambassador Cuisia” Youth Forum

10 March 2014

Washington, DC--Filipino American students and young professionals in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas gathered at the University of Maryland's Stamp Student Center for this year’s “Merienda with Ambassador Cuisia” youth forum. On its third year, the Merienda was hosted by District 6 of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND) with the support of Filipino Young Professionals (FYP) – DC.

In his keynote address, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. encouraged the next generation of Filipino Americans to assume more prominent roles in the community, particularly in advocacy groups and positions that can help influence issues of importance.  He cited recent developments in the Philippines, including the economy’s upward trajectory which many attribute to the Aquino Administration’s good governance efforts.  The Ambassador also invited qualified Filipino Americans to submit their applications for the 2014 Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro), an initiative that brings outstanding second and third generation Filipino Americans to Manila for an immersive program and become partners of the Philippine Foreign Service posts in the U.S. in pursuing the interests of the community.

Former FIND members, Ms. Jitter Garcia of Dow Jones, Mr. Russel Santos of Casaplex and Dr. Randy Lizardo of George Washington University narrated their involvement in the student organization during their university days. The discussion focused on their experiences in FIND and their transition from youth leaders to young professionals. The panelists stressed the importance of networking, time commitment and learning from negative experiences.

The second panel, composed of Mr. Erwiwn De Leon of the Urban Institute, Mr. Steven Raga of AARP and Mr. Jason Tengco of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, tackled the topic Social Issues and Student Involvement. The panelists urged the youth in attendance to know one's core values and enjoy what they are doing. They likewise stressed the importance of surrounding themselves with people, who are equally passionate about the causes they pursue.  Among the issues that arose were the clamor for immigration reform, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the request for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and representation of Filipino Americans in public service.

The event is a collaboration among the Philippine Embassy’s Cultural Section, FIND-D6, headed by Ms. Andrea Dauz as its Cultural Chair, and FYP-DC, with Mr. RJ Diokno serving as its Vice President. ###

Ambassador Jose Cuisia (center, in dark suit) poses with attendees of the 2014 “Merienda with Ambassador Cuisia” youth forum.