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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Free To Be Me

AACI is Proud to Launch This Year’s Growing Up Asian in America Contest!

AACI is excited to announce our annual Growing Up Asian in America (GUAA) youth art, essay, and video contest! In partnership with NBC Bay Area, GUAA gives a unique platform for young people to creatively explore and celebrate their cultural identity through the lens of civic engagement.

Founded by Lance Lew of NBC Bay Area in 1995, the contest provides a unique platform for young artists to creatively explore and celebrate being both Asian or Pacific Islander and American. It remains one of the largest youth celebrations of APA Heritage Month in the nation! 10 students will be selected for a cash award and a chance to appear on NBC Bay Area!

Please note: Participants must live and/or attend a school within the following counties: Santa Clara, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Napa, Alameda, or San Mateo County.


Entry Deadline: March 15, 2023

Today, with so many influences coming from friends, family and social media it can be hard to determine your own beliefs, values and opinions or what it really means to be YOU. For this year’s contest, we want to explore what it means to be free to be your true self. This means having a sense of strength and pride in being who you are. For some of us, this could be eating your favorite food that others might not like, being honest in your opinions, having a unique appearance or a non-traditional family. The first step in being free to be you is finding an environment where you feel safe to do so. Please reflect and share what “Free To Be Me” means to you and how you can create space for yourself and others to feel safe to be themselves.

Use the questions below to help spark ideas. You do not have to answer any/all of these specific questions.

What are some ways you are being your true self?  What makes you special and unique and why? When do you feel safe to be yourself and why?  Who do you feel safe with? How do you help others to feel safe to be themselves? What are important parts of your identity?  How are things like your neighborhood, age, special talents, cultural background, the languages you speak, disabilities, financial background, sexuality, and/or gender identity part of what makes you who you are? When you are your true self, how does that also create a better neighborhood or community?

Online submissions will open on March 1st and close on March 15th!
Winners will be announced on May 1st!

For more details about the contest and how to participate, visit or email We look forward to receiving your submissions!