Inside Change with Mabel Ly

How did you end up at

I’m a first-generation American and when my parents first came to the US, they really struggled with visibility and being heard in a foreign country, especially with asking for help. From watching my parents go through that, I always knew I wanted to work towards making sure no one felt marginalized but wasn’t exactly sure how. That’s where comes in! Change’s mission to empower people and give voice back to the people made my decision to join the team a no-brainer.

What are some of the skills that are most important for a position in this field?

Definitely the ability to be flexible. We all aim to be proactive but life doesn’t always go as planned so you have to be ready to pivot and adapt and then pivot and adapt again.

Who are some of your role models?

My parents – they are perfect examples of the American Dream! My parents were born and raised in Vietnam and became refugees during the Vietnam War. They were luckily sponsored to come to America, but with the language barrier, they were only able to get jobs as waiters in Chinatown, Philly. After 40 years of working their way up, my parents now own their own business and I couldn’t be more proud!

What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you? How do you typically observe or celebrate?

I am super excited to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! It gives space and recognizes those of us who grew up navigating the Asian/Pacific Islander vs. American customs. I was that kid in school who was made fun of when I brought out the rice my mom packed for me at lunch, so now, I make it a point to cook all the foods I used to be embarrassed about and post on Instagram with the #APAHM tag.

What are some cultural traditions you are most proud of?

I love American Thanksgiving. In my family, we have Vietnamese food for lunch and traditional American Thanksgiving food for dinner. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with blending the two (e.g. turkey banh mi, ham spring rolls, etc.) – I’m open to any and all fusion suggestions for this year!

What was the last gift you gave someone?

It was recently my dog’s 7th birthday so I got him a bunch of toys that squeak and I’m really regretting that now since I’m stuck inside with him…

What are some things you’ve learned since we started sheltering-in-place as a result of COVID19?

My roommates and I are very big on zero food waste so sheltering-in-place has been the ultimate test of how creative and resourceful we can be. We’ve since learned to make our own broth with the vegetable scraps saved in the freezer.

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May 20, 2020 2:39 pm