Yating “Tina” Tang is a high school student from Long Island who is passionate about anti-bullying efforts, lifting up the marginalized and combating gun violence through activism and art.
Born in China, Yating immigrated to Long Island when she was eight years old. Her experiences as an immigrant have made Yating uniquely capable of supporting those who are excluded. She has naturally been drawn to volunteer activities that impact the marginalized, especially through efforts to combat bullying. Most recently, she has served as a youth board member for the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying, an organization that provides resources for students who have been targeted by bullying. Yating recently proposed a student ambassadors’ program where each school in Long Island has representatives engaged in bi-monthly youth summits, sharing experiences and planning for organized action.
As a young girl, Yating saw injustices and vaguely understood them. But her ability to impact the world seemed limited to her immediate circle and environment. Even then, she feared being alienated as she had been as a new immigrant.
There is a Quaker saying, “Let your life speak.” As a student, community member and activist, Yating hopes to use her life experiences to empower others instead of living in fear. She says, “With empathy and understanding, we can all create expanding ripples of kindness when we choose to offer others the helping hand we ourselves crave.”
What inspires you to volunteer?
Many of my volunteering efforts stem from my experience as a Chinese immigrant and my personal struggles to fit into a new culture. I moved here in fourth grade and felt very lonely for a while. As a result, I have a unique ability to connect with those who are struggling with social isolation.
Describe your volunteer roles.
As an executive member on Long Island Laboring Against COVID-19 (LILAC)’s Creative Arts Committee, I helped to organize ThankYou & WeCare artwork initiatives to pay tribute to frontline workers, uplifting the spirits of all affected by COVID and raising community morale. Additionally, as a youth executive board member of Long Island Coalition Against Bullying, I helped advise the Board of Trustees on anti-bullying policy and program development in schools across Long Island. I raised funds to bolster programming through bake sales and online fundraising campaigns. I also proposed an Ambassadors Program to increase the reach of our anti-bullying efforts, a program that will be launched in the coming months.
As the director of fundraising for Girl Pride International, I raise money for our Fighting Hunger for Education’ initiative to help girls in the Remot Primary School in Samburu, Kenya where the community is suffering from drought and food shortages. I helped design and execute our highly successful t-shirt campaign by negotiating with manufacturers on Long Island and creating a cost-benefit analysis. I used GPI’s position as a nonprofit to receive the product at half price and maximize profits for the girls. With the funds raised, we purchased over 6,500 pounds of maize, flour, rice, beans, salt, cooking oil and bottled water. These supplies were then distributed to 1,200 vulnerable students and their families, providing four months’ worth of nutrition. In the months since this initiative, every student who had to drop out of Remot Primary School due to the severe food shortage in Samburu has returned to school.
As a service-based artist, I created a digital portrait of journalist Marie Catherine Colvin for Women’s History Month, highlighting the atrocities of the war in Ukraine. A variety of publications covered the dedication, including Syosset Advance and Newsday. The Oyster Bay Herald featured my artwork on its front page. Later, I created graphic designs used to promote Long Island’s March For Our Lives, calling attention to the gun violence crisis. This artwork was exhibited on the front steps of the Nassau County Legislature. My artwork has been presented in front of the Nassau County Legislature and featured by several news outlets. I have received several honor citations from my local government for my work. From posters to t-shirts and portraits, I feel that art deepens human connection and encourages empathy and kindness.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work has been connecting with other activists and community members to bring about genuine change. It has felt amazing to have an impact on the lives of girls and communities across the world.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
Through my experiences as a volunteer, I have learned to use my talents for a greater purpose by amplifying marginalized voices. I like to focus not so much on what talents I have, but more on what my talents can do for others and the kind of message I can send to inspire other young artists and musicians. Over the last year and a half, I have been involved with two different nonprofit organizations that seek to build bridges of solidarity and trust with the BIPOC community and empower girls. Through these organizations, I use my artistic ability to contribute by creating art that brings attention to social problems such as bullying, gun violence and racism.
Through my experiences as a volunteer, I have learned that creativity goes far beyond art for art’s sake–that art can truly make a profound positive impact on the world.
Are there any future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about?
I am very excited to attend college in the fall of 2023! Although I am not sure where I will be attending yet, I plan to get involved in community service organizations in my university community. Additionally, I hope to start a Girl Pride International branch at my college and continue my work with the Remot Primary School for Girls in Kenya.
Why do you think it’s important for others to get involved with causes they care about?
It is so important to get involved, because fostering a community and sharing love is the core of human experience. The abundance of suffering in the world can often feel overwhelming, but participating in community service reminds you of the positive impact you can have. Uplifting others will uplift you as well, so give back today!
What do you want people to learn from your story?
I want people to learn that no matter how hopeless or lost you feel, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will get better! Try to turn those negative feelings and experiences into something productive, like getting involved in your community.
I also want to say thank you so much for this award! I am extremely honored. I am very proud of my commitment and efforts to lift the voices of marginalized communities and will continue to participate in service for the rest of my life. I am so honored to be a part of this organization.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Yating? Find local volunteer opportunities.