Danielle Larsen Hometown: Williamsville, New York and Korea
School/Major: Boston College/B.A. in Philosophy | Ethnicity: Korean-American
Who I am: I was born in South Korea and adopted when I was six months old by white parents from Buffalo, New York, who are of Polish, Irish, and Danish descent. Growing up in a predominantly white area with a white family, I never understood what it meant to be Asian-American, let alone Korean-American. My parents very much subscribe to a colorblind ideology, so my Korean cultural heritage and Asian race were never addressed. It wasn't until college that I started questioning who I was and began developing a sense of my identity as an Asian-American and Korean-American woman.
My fellowship experience: As Asian-American women, we are a politically marginalized group. For me the question is: who is at the table? Are we included in the decision-making process, or are we forgotten and excluded? I learned so much from working at the State House, from attending committee hearings, budget meetings, and researching policy. I feel as though I got a true sense of how state government functions, all the way from the amazing potential for reform to its inefficiencies and frustrating bureaucracy. Our invaluable weekly check-ins and the amazing support network created for us helped me to work through these frustrations during my State House internship. The powerful Asian-American women who came to speak with us through the program gave me inspiring role models who looked like me. I never had Asian-American mentors or role models before, and I had often felt very lonely as a result. Meeting them gave me the strength to say, “You know what? I can do this, just look at these incredibly successful and courageous Asian-American women.”
What AAWPI means to me: AAWPI's Fellowship program has meant so much to me. I have strengthened my Asian-American woman identity, solidified my resolve to work to eradicate systemic oppression, and the program has inspired me to forge my own path in politics and government.
What I'm doing now: I recently served in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa and am now working at an orphanage in Korea!
Placement: State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing