Robin Ye is a Chinese American IB graduate from the International School of Beaverton, USA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public policy with a human rights minor from the University of Chicago. An organizer by trade, and a policy wonk & political junkie at heart, his first entry into politics was through his extended essay covering a local Portland, Oregon school bond measure. He currently works as a Field and Political organizer at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) located in Southeast Portland.
How did you reach where you are today?
Today I find myself as a Community Organizer working to unite Asian and Pacific Islanders to achieve a more just world here in Oregon. Few paths are linear, but I have clung to the notion of a special affinity for wanting to listen to and tell stories about what makes us human. I wanted to inspire others to care about our collective condition, about identity, about community, dignity, and moral ambiguity. I wanted to know the full extent of it – the good, the bad, the ugly and the revered, not the iterations of ourselves that we squeeze into spaces unfit to hold our grandeur.
"I wanted to inspire others to care about our collective condition, about identity, about community, dignity, and moral ambiguity."
Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma?
I wanted to learn how to write, and to write well. The only way to do that was to practice, and to be forced to write even when I didn’t want to — especially when I didn’t want to! Writing is more than a form of expression, and it’s meant for more than just self-reflection. It’s inquiry at work. To explore writing is to explore a key component of my thinking process – I think on paper (or on keyboard?), and the writing process shapes my thinking, and vice versa. More importantly, writing depends on the audience in mind. I wanted to learn a way to sway hearts and persuade minds.
Which of your IB teachers inspired you most?
Mr. David Ruff was my IB English I & II teacher. I often think about how my IB education set me up for a strong liberal arts education — an education that taught me how to carve my own place in society. Mr. Ruff helped empower my development as my own person, with a unique voice and a story to share. He hated the words “relatable” and “impactful” and I realize now that he wanted us to show, not tell.
"Mr. Ruff helped empower my development as my own person, with a unique voice and a story to share."
Mr. Ruff was a fan of the illustrative example and helped teach me the sharpness of words and their amoral ability to cut through confusion or cut down humanity.