Ace Xiong discovered Asian Media Access through the Step Up Program, an internship opportunity goaled to build a diverse, skilled, and equitable workforce. Asian Media Access is one of the internship options that is offered through Step Up, and after careful research of the AMA organization, Xiong felt that the mission that AMA strived for resonated best with him. One of the reasons being was that Xiong was interested in an environment that cares for the people and the community.
During the AMA Step Up Program, interns learn how to build skills with multimedia, which includes training in graphics, animation, and video production. In addition, interns are asked to focus on developing informative messages in multiple languages. Not only is there an emphasis on celebrating people of different race, ethnicities, and culture, there is a goal to bring awareness and access to the communities. These messages spark creativity as they are on various social justice issues and are shared across different social media platforms. Xiong says, “AMA impacted my life by truly exposing me to real-world issues some people dare not to face, and has got me thinking about what I myself can do to help these issues”. Some of Xiong’s favorite experiences with AMA includes meeting and interacting with new people and diverse backgrounds, but also getting to share his stories. It is important to learn about other cultures and perspectives to build respect and empathy for others, as well as find similarities within our own experiences. The material that is built in this internship is shared widely, in hopes of bringing understanding and strength in communities.
One of the great things about the program is that it allows individuals like Xiong to be creative while also being able to bring joy and cheer people up. Xiong says, “Whether it’s drawing, playing an instrument, or just building legos, creativity is amazing for expressing emotions! I think every kid should be able to see people like themselves be represented on social media, and to know no matter their race or gender they are priceless”. Everyone in the internship works on the same social issue, but the designs were approached uniquely. Each intern embraced their individual style and identity by expressing artistic messaging.
At the end of the internship, each individual’s hard work is displayed and staff votes for the best projects. Coming in first place for videos and postcards, Xiong’s showed powerful messages using text, images, videos, audio, and animations. The video in first place featured Xiong’s family immigrant story, with highlights on how the Hmong population migrated from country to country and endured different hardships. In addition, there were many factors that personally contributed to where Xiong and his family immigrated to. Xiong shared how his family struggles with adapting to a new culture and learning a new language, but how these struggles are worth the freedom and opportunity in the United States. Xiong is grateful for the sacrifices made by his grandparents and parents to allow him to be where he is today. Xiong currently attends high school and has future plans to become a businessman. After experiencing the creative business through Step up and AMA, this inspired Xiong to think about taking action for dreams to come true.