The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center is looking for new CSU student volunteers to participate its PALS and Explore programs.
The programs are some of the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center’s student-led nonprofit community outreach efforts. By connecting with the Fort Collins community, both programs create that “home away from home” experience.
While PALS serves Asian/Pacific Islander children in kindergarten through third grade, Explore is an educational space for fourth through sixth graders. Both programs provide Colorado State University students with quality leadership opportunities, allowing their understanding of the Asian/Pacific Islander identity to grow alongside that of their mentees. Each of the volunteers is paired with one or two Fort Collins students.
PALS and Explore
PALS, one of APACC’s very first programs, is an initiative where friendship is built among CSU students known as Big Pals and students from the community, Little Pals. In every session, they engage in fun educational activities about Asian/Pacific Islander culture and countries. Big Pals have the chance to develop their public speaking skills, and Little Pals have the opportunity to learn. Both groups gain a sense of pride and confidence in their heritage. In the past, the programs have focused on different countries and have participated in children’s games, where students were able to walk away with the knowledge that children’s games around the world are very similar, despite differences in culture. Students also engage in a lot of craft sessions to explore their creativity.
Explore is identity-based, different from PALS. The primary objective is to empower the API children it serves. Unpacking discrimination and racism are never easy, and the program acknowledges those obstacles. Explore takes on difficult subject matter through a sensitive and humanistic approach, which allows the “Explorers” to develop a greater sense of self and confidence in who they are. In the past they have discussed a variety of topics such as microaggressions (forms of everyday discrimination), common stereotypes and representations of API people in the media. These subjects extend far beyond discussions and activities, and opportunities for growth do not end once the program is over, they simply get the conversation started.
Each session lasts for two hours during fall and spring semesters, occurring every other weekend on campus. The programs have a real impact on the University and Fort Collins community, and might just be the moment for change that students are looking for.
CSU students who would like to participate as a Guide or Big Pal, or know API students in kindergarten through sixth grade who may be interested, can find more information on the APACC website.