At 9:30 AM on September 29th, BranchOut members, clad in suits and dresses representative of the professionalism that they wished to convey, settled into their seats, beginning their UCA 2018 convention experience. In all, 15 mentors decided to waive their Saturday delights in favor of showing support for this program.
It was certainly a humbling experience - the first panel of speakers was “Political Participation of Chinese Americans: Stories and Lessons”, composed of various State senators and political activists (it is interesting to note that all of them were women). With the impressive resume reading having been done by the moderator, the panelists opened up about a little about themselves - they told us about their past, their difficult journey into politics, and the difficulties that still lie in politics today for Chinese Americans and the lessons we can glean from them. I especially remember Lily Qi, a Maryland State delegate, recounting about her midway career switch from business to politics and how her previous experiences interplay with her current ones.
Next, in succession, there were talks about the “brewing” US-China Trade War (and President Trump’s recent tariffs) followed by a Keynote address by the President of the University of Maryland, Wallace Loh. Because of a timely question by Lawrence (“What message do you have the young generation for helping their community?”), we were able to clinch a photograph with him, but unfortunately not the selfie that Dr. Wu wanted.
The most exciting event, however, was the community organization presentations. There were impressive organizations, sure, but they paled against the wowing presentation by Daniel and Angela and the fervent delegation that strengthened its presence. In only 15 minutes, the presenters were able to precisely and vehemently capture BranchOut’s essence as a multicultural program dedicated to both mentors and mentees and its quick expansion since its inception in 2016. All in all, it was a day well spent for all of us and certainly a monumental step for BranchOut’s publicity.