Intern Spotlight: Maya Chen

Meet Maya Chen. Maya (she/her/hers) is a Chinese-Taiwanese American from Bethesda, MD. She is a rising senior English major at Occidental College, and is so happy to be interning at APIAVote this summer! Maya has previously served as a legislative intern for the Office of Rep. Conor Lamb (PA-17), and the undergraduate intern for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). She is also a Cancer sun/Pisces moon/Aquarius rising, and would be a waterbender in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe.

Read on for Maya’s interview! If you or someone you know would like to intern with us in the Fall, click here.

Q:Have you learned anything interesting during your time here?
I’ve certainly learned more about the AAPI electorate and demographic overall, as well as the importance of civic engagement beyond the general election. Civic engagement, including the Census, is something that ultimately affects our livelihoods on a day to day basis — it’s not only empowerment in using your voice, but makes sure the whole community is counted. I also learned much about the barriers facing AAPIs that lead to lower voter turnout, and how crucial ensuring accessibility for all is.

Q: Name one memorable experience you’ve had with us.
The 2020 Presidential Town Hall and Leadership Summit was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget; I’ve never been so hands-on in such a massive event that needed to be adjusted to go online. I got to see every step of how this huge project was ultimately pulled off, and it was honestly really exciting — especially since Joe Biden himself showed up.

Q: Why is it important to amplify AAPI voices?
AAPIs have a very specific history of oppression in the United States and we are still struggling today, regardless of what the model minority myth tries to perpetrate. We are ultimately still an underserved community in many ways, and we have very little political representation. This ultimately hurts us; it not only prevents AAPIs from having a direct say in the legislative/leadership process, but it also invisibilizes our issues which leads them to go unaddressed. Moreover, it is important to show young AAPIs that there are AAPI activists, and that we are fighting for our community.

Q: What do you do in your spare time? 
In my spare time, I read, cook, binge-watch TV, and hang out with my dog. At school, I’m the co-president of Asian Pacific Alliance for Liberation, my college’s API political organization. During quarantine, I’ve finished about 10 different shows with my parents, and am very excited to return to Los Angeles for my (remote) fall semester!