Last week, Mi Familia Vota and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates brought over forty Houston-area students together for a week of education, reflection, and action around important issues impacting our community.

At the beginning of the Emerging Latino Leaders summit, participants connected with their peers from over 20 different high schools. They then worked together to begin exploring different conceptions of leadership and the ways that they could grow as leaders throughout the week and the school year.

Students start getting to know their fellow ELL participants through an icebreaker on Monday

With the summit in full swing, the ELL participants got to work identifying and learning about the community issues that most impact them and their families. Through conversations and activities with community leaders, activists, and their fellow participants, they began to develop a youth agenda that named some of their most pressing concerns as young people of color living in the City of Houston.

Participants gather to hear more from activist Cesar Espinosa following a panel that discussed issues facing  the immigrant and refugee communities
Participants take a trip off campus to learn about environmental problems in their community up-close through t.e.j.a.s.’s Toxic Tour.

Throughout the week, participants also gained insight and inspiration from several guest speakers, including a panel of leaders just a few years older than them who are already making change happen in their schools, neighborhoods, and other communities.

Participants take a selfie with Cynthia Cantu, an award-winning environmental activist and organic gardener; Uyiosa Elegon, a leader in the Youth Empowerment Alliance; and Ximena Magana, the first DACA recipient and youngest individual to serve on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board

The summit wrapped up on Friday with a mock town hall. Elected officials from the Pearland School Board all the way up to the Texas Senate stopped by to listen to questions the students had written based off of their experiences during the week, their youth agenda, and research that they conducted independently.

Students listen carefully for their representatives’ positions on the issues that they have researched
Sen. Sylvia Garcia talks one-on-one with an ELL participant

Thanks to all the students, staff, volunteers, partner organizations and donors that helped make this year’s summit a success! We hope to see many of our ELL students again in the fall.


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