2019 Fellows Shout-out Series: Mai Sia Yang

  • Posted on: 28 June 2020
  • By: minnesotangos

MINN is proud to announce that our 2019 cohort of Fellows are graduating (already!) These ten incredible individuals represent important voices and perspectives in Minnesota's international development community, and we're excited to see what they accomplish next. Follow along as we highlight the graduating 2019 Fellows in our Fellows Shout-Out blog series:

Mai Sia Yang is a bilingual Hmong American woman who graduated from Augsburg College with a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Mongolia between 2016 and 2018, where she taught English and organized community building projects. She also worked alongside community members and fellow Peace Corps Volunteers on creating a platform for the disabled community. Most recently, Mai Sia served as a Government Affairs Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Minnesota.

In reflecting on her past experiences studying, traveling, and working abroad, Mai Sia has come to understand that she is more drawn to grassroots efforts organized by iNGOs than the loftier UN-like projects intended to effect change in the world. This realization is almost synonymous with MINN’s Motto of “Doing global good, better,” and is exactly what led Mai Sia to the MINN Fellows Program. She had not previously been involved with MINN but once she learned about the Fellows Program, she knew she wanted to know more.

For Mai Sia, the biggest highlights of being a MINN Fellow were the relationships she built, both with other fellows and with leadership. She sees herself as being relatively introverted and as someone who struggles to ask for help at times, but with the MINN Fellows Program she felt safe and comfortable asking for support, and could count on her fellow Fellows to provide great advice and an encouraging atmosphere to bounce around ideas, even during the COVID-19 Quarantine. The relationships she built in the Fellows Program helped her feel more connected and engaged with her interests, and more confident in pursuing a career in international relations.

Mai Sia will soon be applying for graduate school programs in International Affairs and Cross-Cultural Communications and hopes to move to Washington, D.C. to complete her studies. She is also looking into career opportunities both in the Foreign Service and with International NGOs. On the immediate horizon, however, is a Book Drive she is organizing in order to send English grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension books to a newly established Children’s Development Center in Uvs Province, Mongolia where she completed her Peace Corps. She plans to begin collecting books in July 2020, and start sending as early as August 2020.

If you are interested in connecting with Mai Sia or wish to contribute to the Book Drive, please feel free to reach out to her directly via email at [email protected].

MINN will be recruiting for its next cohort of Fellows later this summer. If you are interested in learning more, please inquire with [email protected] or learn more on the Fellows website

As always, thank you to the McKnight Foundation for supporting this important program!