Stanford Fil-Ams empower high schoolers through Filipino history, culture

STANFORD, Calif. – “BAYANI AKO” was the theme at the annual Pilipino Youth Leadership Conference held by Stanford University’s Pilipino American Student Union (PASU).

University students mentored high school teens about surmounting the challenges of being Filipino in an American society.

“We’re learning primarily about the history of America but not even America’s influence in the Philippines,” said Katrina Gutierrez, Stanford PASU member. “So in order for us to really understand our story, our family history, we need to understand that larger narrative and how we’re a part of it.”

Mentors say teenagers are interested to reconnect with their roots.

“I think high school are those vital years of life where you’re still finding your own identity,” said Amiel Paz Stanford PASU intern. “And I think that is the best environment for one to learn about their own cultural identity and ethnic history.”

Some topics that were addressed were migrant issues, current relief efforts after Typhoon Yolanda, and how to properly prepare for college admissions.

Many of these teenage Fil-Ams say that felt empowered by this conference and are motivated to find out more because many were not aware of the contributions Filipinos made to the US.

“I feel more knowledgeable,” said Kyle Catuar, sophomore at Oceana High School in Pacifica. “When I have kids I can tell them the stories of the Philippines.”

“It makes people more aware because when you learn at a young age you have more time to make a difference than when you’re older,” said John Ghazzawi, also a sophomore at Oceana.

The mentors hope that these high school students will retain the leadership lessons from conference by becoming heroes when they return home.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.


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