Getting Schooled: APALA-DC Participates at FUEL Conference, University of Maryland and Welcomes Newest Member

This weekend, APALA-DC participated at the University of Maryland’s annual FUEL conference, an event put together by the Asian Student Union & the Asian American Studies Department. FUEL, which stands for Forging, Understanding, Empowering, and Leading, is a yearly leadership symposium that seeks to educate students on different issues affecting the Asian American community. APALA-DC conducted a workshop on advocacy, using the PG County Teachers’ campaign as an example to the general challenges of international teacher recruitment and guest worker programs in the United States.

The workshop had a great turnout, bringing together almost 30 students from different year levels. The presenters not only spoke to the audience but gave the students an opportunity to share their own ideas on how to advocate for these workers in their own communities.

Aside from getting the chance to engage these young workers, we were fortunate to be able to meet and present with Aileen Mercado, a teacher in Baltimore that was instrumental in helping to organize educators in her school district this past year as their visas have started to expire. Aileen is a member of the Baltimore Teachers Union Executive Board, the first international teacher to hold this post, and we are proud to have her come on as one of APALA-DC’s newest members. Here is her brief story:

Aileen Mercado has been a dedicated teacher for over 20 years. She is a Special Educator at Afya Public Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland.

She belongs to the first cohort of Filipino teachers who came to Baltimore in 2005. The Baltimore Sun newspaper requested to follow her during her first year of teaching in Baltimore and wrote a series of articles about her to show the struggles and achievements of a foreign teacher in an inner city school district. She is the founding President of Filipino Educators in Maryland.

She was elected as one of the Executive Board Members of the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) in 2008 and became the first International teacher to hold such position. She is currently a Vice President for Elementary Schools of BTU. She is also a member of BTU Contract Negotiations Team who is responsible for creating a landmark contract for the Baltimore City teachers. As the Chair of the Immigration Committee of BTU, she is a strong advocate for the International teachers in the school district.

She was selected as one of the members of National Charter School Advisory Board of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a team composed of teachers from different states around the country.

Photo Credits: Jon Melegrito

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