The United States has always been a country of immigrants. Currently, in 2012, children of immigrant parents account for one out of four children (25%), for a total of 18.4 million youth. Nearly six in ten children with immigrant parents have a parent who is an American citizen, and nearly all children in immigrant families (89%) are themselves United States citizens. In 2050, there will be at least 33 million immigrant youth in the nation.
I left Vietnam in 1978 as a refugee. I came to the United States in 1979 and lived in poverty for many years. In order to get out of poverty, my family and I worked hard to create opportunities for ourselves. During my early years as a teenager, I felt socially isolated and marginalized due to lack of connections and support. Fortunately, however, I met great mentors and teachers who dedicated their time and efforts to guide me and help me become a leader in my community and in society. They did it all without asking for anything in return.
Because of my experience, the idea came to me to serve others like I was served by my mentors and teachers. And together with an excellent group of like-minded professionals, whom have gone through similar experiences, the Enlightened Initiative was founded.
Well-educated, informed, and healthy youth are vital to a strong, prosperous, and secure country. Hence, the Enlightened Initiative serves as a strong intervention in the lives of immigrant youth and supports them to become leaders in their families and communities. Simply put, the immigrant youth are our leaders for today!
My hope is that through the Enlightened Initiative immigrant youth will learn, as I learned, to be leaders in their families and communities. I want to give back to what it was given to me.
I invite you to join us!
Cuong Quy Huynh, JD, MPP
Chairman, Enlightened Initiative