Amy Wong Mok Video Transcript

AMY WONG MOK: This is really a space for the East and the West to meet.

NARRATOR: While working as a community activist in Austin, Texas, Amy Wong Mok discovered a lack of social services available to the Asian community.

NARRATOR: Amy was then instrumental in building the Asian American Cultural Center, a space which welcomes all members of the Austin community.

AMY WONG MOK: You need to have a physical location to have a home. And the reason why I name it Asian-American Cultural Center and not Asian Cultural center is our commitment to inclusion. We want to include anybody…anybody who are interested…to take the Asian culture as part of the American culture, because after all, Asians have been in this country for over 100 years.

AMY WONG MOK: When I was growing up in Hong Kong, it was a British colony. We were never given an opportunity to vote on anything.

AMY WONG MOK: I found my voice, literally here, under this republic country. Protected by the constitution. Giving all these choices and all these rights.

NARRATOR: As the former president for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and a volunteer for the Austin Rape Crisis center, Amy has always been an advocate for preventing violence.

NARRATOR: The first piece of legislation that Amy advocated to change was the Marital Exemption for Rape.

AMY WONG MOK: 15 years ago, not that long ago, fifteen years ago, when you were married, you could rape your wife, and it's not a crime. I learned about that, and I said that cannot be.

AMY WONG MOK: I just think that in any relationship it has to be balanced. And the public policy has to support that.

AMY WONG MOK: So if we have this piece of law that is a Marital Exemption for rape that is a bad, wrong message to send it to any young women or young man: that somehow the relationship should not be balanced.

AMY WONG MOK: Violence in any form, should be considered as a crime, whether you're married or not.

AMY WONG MOK: The message we got from the opponents, was a lot of fear. There's a Chinese saying, when we don't want to acknowledge something that is so threatening, we just say [Chinese saying] ‘I don't have eyes to see.'

AMY WONG MOK: These things don't happen, they are a private matter. That's what they say. This is a private matter between husband and wife.

AMY WONG MOK: It outraged me. I was totally outraged and I was determined. I was just a volunteer. I had never been to the capitol.

AMY WONG MOK: And of course I have to put on my armor, you know, my suit and my heels. I have never seen so many people with black suits, 3 piece suits, in my life.

AMY WONG MOK: But here I am, an Asian woman, not very tall, speak with an accent, and with the people on the committee up there. I have to explain to them, I have never done it before, this is my first time, but I am here for this reason. And I have to tell you, that I saw them, sitting on the edge of their seat, leaning over, when I told them the story of the rape victims. And the things they could do to alleviate some of those pains, and to hold the perpetrator accountable and how it may create a safer and better world for our children. They were listening.

AMY WONG MOK: We finally passed that, but after three tries, three sessions. We worked on it for 3 sessions, you know six years to have that passed.

NARRATOR: What has Amy learned about preventing violence in our society? At the cultural center's pre-school, the values of cooperation and compassion are put into practice.

AMY WONG MOK: Our core mission is really around education. We start with our pre-schoolers, we give them the good, solid foundation to do the right thing. Operate out of compassion, out of wisdom. Be a team member, live healthy, and see beauty in everything.

AMY WONG MOK: These are the guiding principles, that weave through all of our programs. May it be the English as a Second Language class for our elders or citizenship class for the new immigrants or dance class or tabla garras, or all these community events. It's really about providing an opportunity for people to see each other as human beings. And that's where the education starts.

AMY WONG MOK: If someone like me…who is a foreign-born, immigrant, speak English with an accent, learned the American culture in my adult age, and be able to do this, and I think for young people who were born here, who grew up here, and they should have a much earlier head start than myself. And so our future really depends on our future generations to get involved, to really take back democracy. It is really up to all of us, and I would like to see each one of us to take responsibility to our system.

AMY WONG MOK: If I could do it, anybody could, and everybody should.