This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. This week, we’d like to feature Angela Zeng, a dedicated Red Cross volunteer and member of our National Youth Council. Here is a conversation we had with her around Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the importance of giving back.
Why is your Asian Pacific American heritage important to you?
My Asian heritage is a constant reminder of the sacrifices my immigrant parents made to build a life here. To me, my Chinese heritage means understanding Chinese culture and traditions and preserving the values that have shaped me into who I am.
Why do you believe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is important?
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a reminder to our country of the history and challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is a celebration of their contributions to society and an opportunity for people to learn about their culture and communities.
How and why did you get involved with the Red Cross?
I joined my high school’s Red Cross Club in order to volunteer at blood drives. From there, I found my passion to serve my community not only through organizing blood drives, but by teaching disaster preparedness, fundraising for disaster relief, installing smoke alarms and helping in any way I could. As I got more involved with my Red Cross chapter, I grew to appreciate the leadership development opportunities the Red Cross offered and was inspired to guide other youth to become service-oriented leaders in our community. I am now a member of the National Youth Council, continuing to advocate for youth volunteers and promote youth involvement in the Red Cross.
What is one thing you’d tell your 20-year old self?
Giving back to the community means doing what I can with my time, ability and resources to improve the lives of people around me. In whichever way I am serving, knowing that I am allowing someone to be happier, healthier or more prepared for the future makes my heart full. Reflecting on everything I’ve been blessed with in my life motivates me to continue serving the needs of others with a cheerful attitude.
How would you encourage others to get involved with the Red Cross or in their communities?
If you are a high school student, I would encourage you to join the Red Cross Club at your school. Otherwise, contact your local Red Cross region to find out about various volunteer opportunities. There are so many ways you can serve your community if you are willing to seek them out. From volunteering at a veterans hospital to writing thank you cards to blood donors, there is always a need that you can fulfill. Volunteering in your community is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time – go out and don’t be afraid to try something new!
What is your proudest life or Red Cross achievement?
I never would have imagined myself as a leader in any sort of capacity. But volunteering with the Red Cross opened me up to connecting with others and gave me a passion to contribute to society by putting my ideas into action. My journey from being a Red Cross Club member to president, to Youth Council chair, to National Youth Council member was unforeseen and it is something I am both humbled by and exceedingly thankful for. The creative, passionate and hardworking individuals I work with on the National Youth Council are some of the most driven and inspiring people I’ve met, and being able to strive toward new accomplishments with them is my proudest achievement.
Become a Volunteer
You can learn how to become a volunteer like Angela by visiting redcross.org.