ACDC started running youth programs in 2003, creating projects like the Chinatown Banquet, a series of short films featuring Chinatown’s history and community members. Asians Voices of Organized Youth for Community Empowerment (A-VOYCE) was developed in 2005. The program was conceptualized by a group of youth from prior years, who identified the lack of Asian American-centered or Chinese-language programming on the radio. The youth curated a public radio program discussing cultural and social issues, while developing the knowledge and skills to use media as a social and political organizing tool.
Amy Cheung served as one of the program’s first coordinators. With experience as a radio station DJ in college and a growing passion for working with youth, Amy found an opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow at ACDC to implement the A-VOYCE program, for which the previous youth cohort and program coordinator had set the objectives.
“One of the most important lessons that I still carry from this experience is looking at cities and places as being alive and evolving. I think that with the radio and walking tour project having evolved into A-VOYCE as a cohesive youth program, it allowed for this exploration of not just identity, but also of place. When you do this kind of work you see how alive a neighborhood is and changes over time. Working with ACDC sparked an interest in community and urban planning and placemaking. I find myself more observant, wondering how a neighborhood has evolved and who was part of that process. You come to realize and appreciate how vibrant cities are. I remember taking youth on a college tour and while on the commuter rail, one of the them was in awe of the drastically different environment in the suburbs. It was a lesson on wealth and income inequality, and thinking about how we move through the world and observe these differences.”
Amy recalls how facilitating a group outside of an academic setting created impactful, relational moments, “These experiences have a lot of value because as a young person going through the challenges of adolescence and life, having a fun and safe community can go a long way. When I got married a few years ago, I invited my former youth because a lot of my identity today is so intimately tied to my experiences as a young adult and doing youth work. They were an important part of that journey.
“I currently serve on ACDC’s board where I offer my perspective on programs and youth work. It’s been really amazing to see how the board is so supportive of youth work, especially because of how integral youth are in community development work overall.”