Elyssa Yuen


SEED is where and when I am the truest version of myself. 

I am a Chinese American, born in New Jersey and raised in Hong Kong. My mother was born and raised in Abington Pennsylvania and my father was a Chinese immigrant to the United States at age 15 in 1972. Growing up, I have very few memories of hearing stories about my parents’ schooling experiences--I have since learned that their stories of schooling in the United States were ones filled with pain, fear and survival. My parents relocated to Hong Kong to provide me with an experience where I would be surrounded by mirrors of myself, in an environment where my identity as an Asian American child would be promoted and celebrated. In coming to America as a college student and in the years since then- I've grappled with what it means for me to be Asian American. On this journey I've experienced joys and challenges. 

In 2011 I found myself in Philadelphia to both teach and build relationships with grandparents who I never got to know as a child growing up overseas. Living in Philadelphia, I was immersed among windows and mirrors in my Chinatown neighborhood and teaching in a school and community across many identities of difference. I very quickly learned that I had significant work to do to ensure I was showing up each day in service to students and myself. In 2014, I had the privilege of joining my first SEED group. This space changed my life. I felt seen and heard. I attended SEED New Leaders Week in the summer of 2015 and have both taken part in and facilitated SEED since then. Sharing stories has become an integral part of my work in schools, and is a constant reminder of the light and life that teachers and students bring with them to school each day.

I currently serve as a Head of School and SEED drives my work. I continue to engage with SEED to push my practice, bring me joy, and ground me in building and practicing my skills to take action. Being part of this community allows me to experience care, care that I'm then able to pass on to others. I am humbled to be part of this growing community that continues to inspire me to envision a future of more justice and healing.

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