Kevin Perez

Kevin Perez

Filipino-American from Guam

What do you think about the election?

Being as the first time I can vote, I actually pay attention now and it seems important. It’s interesting to see all the people around me pay so much more attention to politics compared to when they were in high school, but it’s so sad because I can’t vote. I can vote for local elections, but I can’t vote for the president because we don’t have any electoral votes in Guam.

There are around 180,000 people in Guam, and a decent amount of them would be qualified to vote, but it’s really unfortunate that all those people don’t have a voice to be heard. Yet whatever Congress and the president do ends up affecting us, especially considering that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more important, and we have no say. We’re just like a pawn in their game.

Are people upset about the status of Guam?

Some people call it the last colony of the United States. It’s like an incorporated territory, and we’re like Puerto Rico. We’re just upset that we don’t have representation and that we have to bear all of these costs from the federal government. Whatever they say goes without us having a say. We have a delegate who can’t vote either, but gets to be there. Right now they’re not upset, since we’re not as involved with national politics. They think that both candidates are pretty awful, but overall I’m pretty sure that if they could vote they would.

Do you think there are a lot of Asian Americans in the field of foreign service?

I don’t. I remember reading one time that most foreign service officers are generally in their thirties, white, and with a master’s degree, and that was a bit discouraging. But I also understand because I remember that a lot of my friends wanted to do business and the hard sciences. I guess it’s a stereotype that Asian parents generally push for those things, what they see as careers that will set you up for a path of success. As for foreign service, not that many people know about it. It’s a public sector job, so there’s the assumption that you won’t get paid very much, and not many people are well-known for it either.

How do we get away from money-making jobs and go towards public/political service? Are we going in the right direction?

We need to see people with a true passion for public service to actually step up and be an example for other people. Generally, we tend to choose the safer path. But usually the best way to choose something is to see that it has worked before. The problem with that is we won’t have people being the first ones to break through that barrier. People have to be more risk-taking.

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