This Spring several students from the Asian American Center attended the 2015 East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference held in Boston. Here are some of their reflections about the conference. Thank you to Deborah Chen, Celine Chin, Kristy Fang, Vandana Karan, Hyeuk Jun Lee, Derek Tran, and Dawn Wong for your reflections and representation at this year’s ECAASU!

Deborah Chen

When the ECAASU Conference was first brought up during an AASIA meeting, I didn’t think much of it. I had just attended the Empower Conference so I figured I had enough of leadership and the Asian American experience and whatnot for the time being. However the thought of going still lingered in my mind every time I saw someone RSVP to the event on Facebook. The more I thought about it though, the more I wanted to go. I figured all my friends were going, I could get to know more people, and for the first time in forever, it would be held in the Boston area so why not?

We arrived at Harvard Friday night and got settled for the opening ceremony. The five of us, all part of AASIA, sat together but it seemed like everywhere we looked was a familiar face from Northeastern so automatically I had a good feeling about this conference. The opening ceremony started and each performer did their thing, but one in particular stood out to me, and it was slam poet Alex Dang. What resonated with me the most was what he said about the struggles that he faces with not being fluent in either Vietnamese or Chinese. One thing he also mentioned was having a better grasp of the English language than his parents despite being young enough to still play with Legos. As a child of Taiwanese immigrants, that really made me reflect on how when I was younger, I would be frustrated when my parents would say something wrong even though they showed me so much patience as I learned Mandarin, struggling to pick up certain tones and pronunciations. Even now, their grasp of English is far better than my grasp of Mandarin and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for.

While the first workshop I attended, Fear of Failure, was helpful, I was a lot more interested in the second workshop, Beyond the Thread. This session dealt with the cultural appropriation of religious and cultural imagery and symbols around us. This is prevalent especially in popular culture, from “artists” such as Iggy Azalea dancing in an Indian wedding and wearing the sacred dress of an Indian bride, to Gwen Stefani, who used Japanese girls as props to reinforce stereotypes of Asian women. While cultural appropriation is a seriously growing issue, it might be hard to pick up on sometimes. While others are offended by certain uses of cultural imagery, others might call it appreciation for the culture. One thing that I thought of immediately was the Indian festival, Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors. As it gained more recognition, a company decided to capitalize on that and create what is now called The Color Run. Many people don’t realize the fact that this company makes profit off of a religious holiday, with only a portion of these profits going towards charity. Cultural appropriation is everywhere, whether you realize it or not. Even going to the mall and shopping at somewhere like Urban Outfitters (known for their extremely offensive designs), there is religious and cultural imagery everything, like some trashy ripped t-shirt with crosses all over it or some “oriental” throw with an image of Buddha. Even if we can’t stop cultural appropriation entirely, we can stop encouraging it.

Being able to attend ECAASU this year definitely opened my eyes to the experiences and hardships face by the Asian American community around me. I am so lucky as a freshman to have this opportunity and if ECAASU ever comes to New England again I will not hesitate to attend.

Celine Chin

Signing up for the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d been to Asian centered conferences before including the Boston Asian American Students’ Intercollegiate Coalition conference and four Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers conferences and was curious to see how the ECAASU conference would be different. I signed up for the conference hoping to learn more about what Asian American young adults like myself are doing in the world to express their unique identities and how they celebrate the intersectionality of these identities. I first began really exploring my Asian American identity through an Asian American studies class offered at my high school and at the same time through the community organizing group the Chinese Youth Initiative in Boston’s Chinatown. Coming to college I sought out the Asian American community to expand my knowledge on the experiences of other Asian American youth and share stories. I am grateful for the Asian American Center at Northeastern for providing students opportunities such as this one and enabling students to bond with other students in a shared community.

The first workshop I attended was “Asian American Renaissance” lead by Ryan Takemiya. I chose this workshop because I wanted to learn more about the cultural shift of Asian Americans overtime: what it means, what influences it, and how Asian Americans created this shift. Ryan was a very natural and welcoming speaker and I immediately knew I would enjoy his workshop. He started off by talking about his own Asian American experience, then went on to talk about the origin of the word “renaissance” and its use throughout history. He believed that the Harlem renaissance was the most important cultural renaissance to occur in American history, and that its influence is still present in modern-day American culture. I learned that the Harlem Renaissance gave minorities a voice and a way to express themselves and make an impact in society. Ryan then moved on to looking into the diverse roots of Asian culture and how we are influenced by both Asian and American culture. We then broke into groups and were given the task to come up with the next new Asian-influenced trend in America in the categories of music, dance, art and fashion. He explained how our idea had to not just be a lumped combination of existing ideas, but a synthesis of our unique cultural and generational experiences that we had to make our own. Our group, in charge of a new dance, came up with making tinikling, a Filipino form of dance involving jumping over sticks, glow-in-the-dark. We also thought of adding glow-in-the-dark Holi powder from South Asian culture. This dance could either be a professional performing dance troupe or a new kind of rave dance for the masses. I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop because it expanded my knowledge on how cultures transform overtime. I also liked the format of the workshop since it gave students time to discuss topics amongst themselves, brainstorm their own ideas on how to express their Asian American identity and made them more aware of the power they have in shaping their own culture.

The second workshop I attended was “Fresh Off the Mic” hosted by ECAASU team members. The style of this workshop was unexpected but refreshing. Since the facilitators were students my age, the workshop felt more like a guided discussion among peers rather than what I am used to finding at conferences where an adult lectures for an hour. I enjoyed this approach because I felt like it allowed for people to speak their opinions more freely. The workshop consisted of watching short clips relating to Asian Americans and discussing our reactions to them. We discussed “Fresh Off the Boat” and the accuracy of its portrayal of Asian Americans and the impact we believed it had on Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans as well. Overall the workshop made me more aware of how race is used for humor, how to determine for myself what is and is not racist and how the intention of the person telling the joke and how the person receiving the joke receives it are key factors in whether a joke is racist or not.

The closing performances were a true showcase of the vast amount of Asian American talent out there. The first performer, Jeni Suk, amazed the audience with her strong voice and cool sounds, and was a person I believed represented a successful Asian American in the American entertainment world. My friend and mentor Liane Wong followed Jeni’s performance with a mesmerizing piece on the traditional Chinese dulcimer instrument, which I respected her for keeping a traditional instrument alive and strong. The comedian Hari Kondabolu had an honest comic routine, which was not only hilarious but covered a range of social issues as well. The spoken word duo DarkMatter was like a splash of cold water to the face, waking me up to the harsh realities that many minority groups suffer through but that most people are unaware of. A personal favorite of mine was Unofficial Project because of my personal experience as a dancer and appreciation for the art. I thoroughly enjoyed the closing performances and feel that their strength, emotion and messages will resonate with me for a long time.

Overall I feel my ECAASU experience was very powerful and definitely surpassed my expectations. I learned more about my own identity as well as that of my fellow Asian Americans. I felt touched and empowered by the energy of the many inspiring people I encountered there and even made a few new friends from different schools. I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend such an amazing conference and am grateful to the AAC for providing this opportunity.

Kristy Fang

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) conference. The annual conference is held to bring together college students from across the United States, but mainly from the east coast, to discuss and learn more about important issues within the Asian American Pacific Island community. The theme for this year was “New Asian American” and there were approximately 40 different workshops that focused on topics such as sexuality, citizenship, ethnicity, gender, etc. Through the workshops, performers, and speakers, I acquired a pride and better understanding for Asian Americans.

The first workshop I went to was “Free of Failing: Asian Americans and Failure”. It focused on how many Asian Americans deal with the fear of failure due to the prospect of model minority. As discussed in class, Asian Americans are considered to be the model minority because they are smart and successful; however, they are not to the level of the majority. As a model minority they are considered the best of the worst. It also has to deal with stereotypes. In the workshop, they showed us an old TIMES magazine cover. The cover showed Asian American kids and was captioned as “Whiz Kids”. Asian Americans are always viewed as smart and pursuing degrees in science or math. It is very difficult to live up to these expectations, and even if the expectations are met, people just shrug it off and explain it’s “because you’re Asian”. This can then lead to mental health problems that are not addressed. During the workshop, the facilitators asked which of us spoke a second language: 75% of the room rose their hands. But then, they asked how many of us could discuss mental health problems in that language: less than 10% of the 75% were able to raise their hand. This is true because Asian Americans don’t address the issue of mental health. It is viewed as shameful or that you’re going crazy. Due to the constant pressure of living up to stereotypes and the lack of treatment, suicide has become the second leading death to Asian Americans (the first being cancer). Asian American suicides are prevalent through history as seen in the cases discussed in class such as the suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen or Marine Lance Cpl. Harry Lew. Even today, there are cases such as the suicide of Yale Student, Luchang Wang.

Since mental health is not discussed in Asian families, it is important to exert our own efforts in preventing suicide by addressing the cause. The root of it all points back at our fear of failure. In the workshop, however, they stressed how failure is not necessarily a bad thing. The facilitators brought up how Michael Jordon has missed hundreds of shots to get to where he is today. They also brought up how J.K. Rowling was a single mother living off of welfare when she wrote Harry Potter and was rejected by multiple publishers before someone decided to publish it. It is not about living in the moment, but looking at the bigger picture. I learned that a failure is only a moment in our lives and it will pass. Many Asian Americans dwell on their failures and turn it into something bigger than it really is. I think that all Asian Americans need to attend a workshop similar to this because the way we approach failure is in no way healthy.

I also attended a screening/panel that is somewhat related to the workshop I mentioned above. There was a screening of “Tested” a documentary covering the competitive admission into New York’s top three specialized schools: Stuyvesant High School, The Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. Admission into these schools is determined by the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). 65% of these schools are made up of Asian Americans. The film discusses how people want to change the system so that entry is not dependent on just the SHSAT scores. However, if they were to change this, then the percentage of Asians at these schools would surely decrease. The Asian community is protesting against these possible changes since they know that they can prepare for a test, but they aren’t certain beyond that. There are cram school at every block in the Asian communities and Asian families would send their kids there to prepare for the tests. While other families were unaware of these tests and schools, every Asian parent will know all the details. An interviewed family stated that 5k of their 25k income was spent towards the school. Asian Americans want to send their kids to these schools and would invest so much money into it because acceptance into these schools were equivalent to a ticket out of poverty. The parents also saw it as an opportunity that they never had and want their kids to reach their potentials. However, because the stakes are so high, there is a lot of pressure on these middle school kids to do well and excel. One of the kids interviewed shared how all his siblings were accepted into these specialized school and he was scared that if he didn’t get in as well, he would be viewed “less than” his siblings.

This documentary really shone a light on how much pressure is placed on Asian American kids and can be linked to the fear of failure. I believe that the issue is becoming more of a problem since competiveness is increasing and education becomes more and more important for survival. I was able to learn a lot about myself through this film because I went through a similar process for my high school. I did not attend the New York schools, however I did attend a selective boarding school. I remember how all my Asian friends knew about the school but none of my others friend knew. I also remember the pressure of doing well and thinking how my life would be over if I did not get accepted. Fortunately, I was accepted, but I can only imagine how horrible rejected student might feel. I didn’t realize the magnitude of this issue of failure and feeling the pressure of Asian American stereotypes until these workshops and screening.

There were many other discussions and speakers that addressed many of the topics discussed in class; however this reflection would be pages long if I were to write about them all. There is not much that I would change about this conference. It looked at issues from all points and the topics ranged from history to food to racism. So, I don’t think it could have been improved based on what we have been learning about in this course. ECAASU was really an amazing opportunity for me. It made me want to be more involved in the Asian American community and it made me want to work on the issues that they faced. At the opening and closing ceremonies, they brought in so many Asian performers such as DANakaDAN, Dumbfounded, Dark Matter, Hari Kondabolu, Jeni Suk, etc. Their talents ranged from hip hop artist to spoken word. Seeing all those Asian Americans who made it and are addressing Asian American issues really inspired me and made me proud to be Asian American. Through these performers and workshops, I learned about who I am as an Asian American. One of the speakers spoke about how we should stop trying to figure out what an Asian American is and stop conforming ourselves to how we think Asian Americans should act. Rather Asian Americans are who we are. What we do is what Asian Americans do. We are the “New Asian Americans”.

Vandana Karan

As a freshman finally getting used to being a part of the Asian American Center at Northeastern, I did not know what to expect at ECAASU. The AAC has done a good job of leading discussions about relevant topics and issues and our community. I was not quite sure if ECAASU would bring up the same discussions, different discussions, or whether it would just be a networking experience. I however, left ECAASU hugely inspired by the peers, facilitators, organizers, and professionals I met.

Most of my ECAASU experience was shaped from the workshops I participated in; “Civil Rights and Greek Life”, and “Where the Desis at?”. While there were so many options to choose from, I chose to attend workshops that I felt were the most unique, and that pertained to me. Doing so made me go part ways with my friends, allowing me to meet so many great people.

As a sister of Delta Phi Omega, the workshop on Greek life really stood out to me. This semester I got more involved in PAAC, becoming DPO’s representative. Since joining, I have found myself questioning what a cultural interest sorority’s place could possibly be in the Asian American community, and whether we are capable of making an impact. I became a sister of my sorority because I wanted to enhance my leadership skills and become active in the community; but have found myself not understanding how Greek life and leadership are connecting.

Going to the workshop on Greek life reaffirmed my belief that joining a South-Asian interest sorority could help me make an impact. The facilitators and other peers reminded me that our Asian-interest Greek organizations were created because our founders felt an imperative need to create our own communities, due to being rejected and ostracized from the mainstream Greek community. In a way, the founding of Asian sororities and fraternities represents a victory. In the fight to be recognized, Asian sororities and fraternities have won. In the interest of this victory, we as Greeks should be support to other minorities who have been silenced and not recognized. Unlike those who have been silenced, Asian Greeks have the power to form an opinion, and share it and educate others.

While attending this workshop, I did start develop new questions. Why was there a need for a specifically South-Asian interest sorority? Seeing as Asian-interest sororities already exist, Delta Phi Omega was established because even within the niche of Asian, there was an understanding that we needed an even more specific community. This realization helped me decide on attending the workshop on “Desi” people.

While I love the APA community, and PAAC, I am no stranger to the fact that mostly East Asian and Southeast Asians identify as “Asian”. Growing up, I accepted the fact that some of my Asian American peers would see me as Asian, and that South Asians would always see each other as different. Upon coming to Northeastern and joining AASIA, I realized that I did not want to accept that. I want South Asians to feel welcome and a part of the greater Asian-American community. When I saw the workshop about “Desis”, I was ecstatic that there was some South Asian representation at the conference. That type of workshop was honestly something I wanted to discuss for a long time.

Walking into the conference made me unexpectedly emotional; I didn’t realize how much I wanted the conversation to happen. We discussed why we didn’t feel a part of the Asian community. A lot of us agreed that it was because although our heritage is Pan-Asian, within the group South-Asian, there are so many confusing lines and overlaps. Race, ethnicity, and nationality are all kind of mixed within South Asian, and our other Asian American peers have trouble understanding that. Within India itself there are over 200 different languages and 5 major practiced religions. Still, we are grouped into one big culture. Due to large communities of Islam and Hinduism, our traditions are very different from East Asians and Southeast Asians. Since there are so many divisions in South Asia itself, it’s even harder to identify as Asian.

This workshop focused more on South Asian identity, which is sometimes ignored in the larger context of Asian identity. It was great connecting others who shared this identity, although the workshop did not talk about how to connect with non South-Asians in our community, which was really what I was looking. However, even having a workshop targeted at South Asians was a huge step forward, and I truly appreciated it.

Overall, I consider it a blessing that ECAASU was in Boston this year, and that I was able to attend. This conference surpassed my expectations and left me with questions and answers I did anticipate on having.

Hyeuk Jun Lee

Throughout my entire life, one question has seemingly never left my mind: Am I Korean or am I American? Being born in South Korea and articulating the language fluently, I first identified as being Korean. But when my parents decided to immigrate to Canada, I felt as if I had to trade my Korean heritage for an American one, just to fit in. A series of similar events led me to seriously question my ethnicity from that moment forward. However, upon starting my first year of college, I’ve begun to now realize that I am Asian American. Eager and wanting to learn more, I applied for the sponsorship by the Asian American Center to attend the 2015 ECAASU Conference at Harvard College.

One common recurring theme that I noticed at this year’s conference was that Asian Americans set high academic and social expectations for their families and hold certain stigmas against failure and mental health conditions, in particular. I first chose the “Free of Failing: Asian Americans and Failure” workshop. This is an issue that I highly resonate with, since being wrong and facing failure are two of my biggest fears. Not to mention, my parents set strict expectations for me because they want to see me succeed. During this workshop, two panelists spoke about their personal experiences with their encounters of failure, despite the expectations set upon them by their fellow peers and their families. One even spoke about how he was accepted to work at a firm upon graduation, however, failing his Chinese elective led the company to revoke his offer and ultimately leave him jobless in front of his family. But from this, he also shared how failure is simply inevitable, and that it is important for Asian Americans to recognize that they will not succeed all of the time, in every endeavor they pursue. The solutions provided with experiencing failure included the necessary recognition that failure is universal and that expectations should not prevent one from working towards their individual aspirations. Asian Americans should be able to pursue passions in what interests them, instead of fitting into the stereotype of either becoming a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer.

The second workshop that I chose to attend was “Advancing Minority Health through Communications: #DareTo Talk About It.” When reading the title, the word health immediately drew me in. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to become educated in epilepsy and how it affects me indirectly. Before attending, I had the urge to research the condition in order to take part in the conversation. However, upon attending, I realized that the majority actually knew very little about epilepsy. What grabbed my attention was the fact that many in the room could not identify the condition itself, even though it currently affects tens of millions of people worldwide today. A condition so common was still seemingly left in the dark. After learning about how incorrect identification and treatment of patients dealing with epilepsy can lead to death, I immediately was given the desire to inform others about epilepsy and ultimately raise awareness. In terms of its effects on the Asian American community, there is a highly negative stigma associated with having a mental health condition. Because of the language barrier, many translations of mental health conditions in Asian languages are equivalent to either “insane” or “mental,” both of which label patients in a hostile manner. Rather, I learned that it is more important to refrain from making snap judgments and actually educating others and ourselves about what it means to be epileptic. Despite having a mental condition, those affected are also human beings, which many forget. Particularly in Asian American communities where these conditions are frowned upon, it is important to be aware and support those who are affected.

All in all, ECAASU Conference was a highly influential time for me to understand my Asian American identity and ultimately discover the issues that arise today within our communities. Not only is the matter of living beyond familial expectations and taking the step to educate others about health conditions significant, but it is also important for us as Asian Americans to step outside of our boundaries to share our voices in the world. I’m also extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend ECAASU this year with the full sponsorship of the Asian American Center. Thank you so much!

Derek Tran

“Challenge your Asian identity and values.” Those were the last words of one of many keynote speakers whom I forgot the names of and the order that they went in. But why did this phrase stick in my head the entire conference? The reason being was that this was so unconventional and far from the norm of exploring one’s identity and understanding your background. I had always been told to appreciate my identity and who I am, not challenging it. Throughout this conference, I was able to learn the true meaning behind that phrase.

Walking into Memorial Church for the morning keynote, I did not expect to see the sheer amount of Asian Americans that were present sitting in each row. Some were from as far west as California and as far south as Florida. All of these individuals were gathered in the church, ready for the workshops and the events that were to follow. The first workshop that I attended was named “Free of Failing: Asian Americans and Failure” which was ran by two individuals Norman Chen and Victoria Pham. They addressed this mutual fear of failure in the Asian community, especially the fear of failing the family and upholding long traditions. They specifically spoke about their own share of failures in their lives as well and how they did not let that take over their life. Using an activity where everyone wrote on the back of a notecard, we were able to write down our fears and even read some out loud. Some considered failures to be academic reasons while others considered their failures as socially or mentally. I was able to see that my Asian identity has significantly contributed to these fears and that there were others who have similar fears as myself. I learned that I should not let these fears turn me into a perfectionist and control the path that my life was taking. Everyone faces these fears, no matter what race or identity that they choose to uphold.

After lunch, I trekked over the Harvard campus to reach my second workshop of the day “Leadership and Team Efficiency” which was ran my Deonne Francisco. This workshop served to explain how Asian Americans could create and lead a “DREAM” team and work with different types of team members, whether it be in the workplace or in school. Asian Americans have been underrepresented the majority of the time in the workplace hierarchy, with a predominantly non-Asian American individual at the helm. This workshop challenged me to realize that I do have strengths but also weaknesses and that there are others who can complement the traits that I falter in. I was able to see that the team that I was a part of consisted of individuals who had trouble deciding or were not as outspoken as others. Vice-versa, there were some who were diligent and had strong time management. Through a series of activities that involved delegating the well-suited leader and relaying information between team members who were assigned roles in our “corporation” I could see the connecting to my Asian American identity. By doing all those activities in my Asian-led group, we were challenging the norm in society. Everyone has the ability to become a leader which parallels to the fact that everyone can break out of the expectations of society.

Once the workshops were done, I proceeded to attend a movie screening about Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech where I was able to see how many of the problems that Asian Americans face were also present in African American and Latino youths who were trying to get in to those top ranked high schools in New York. Afterwards, I attended the closing ceremony which featured acts by Asian Americans. The performances ranged from dances, to spoken word, to comedy and music.

Thus was the end of the main day of ECAASU. I did not attend the third day of the conference due to personal reasons. But this entire conference helped me to connect with others who were just as passionate about challenging their identity as an Asian American as I was. I learned of ways that I could defy the norms that were set in place for Asian Americans. I realized that I did not need to constantly be held back by the expectations of only pursuing a career in a field that was deemed most suitable for my skin color. ECAASU showed me that it is okay to ask difficult questions and that my Asian Identity is only defined by me and no one else.

Dawn Wong

I found myself in awe with the passion, even hurt found within his words. Alex Dang’s poetry slam opened my eyes to the oppression of Asian Americans. He opened my eyes to the necessity of the ECAASU conference. Attending the conference with little to no knowledge of what ECAASU did or stood for, I expected the opening ceremony to give a background of ECAASU or to explain why some 1,300 college students having traveled varying distances were crammed into a church on a Friday evening. Instead, an air of ambiguity lingered through the conference. According to the keynote speaker, Ryan Takeyima, we were joined together to coin the “New Asian American.” Though I felt empowered that being the new Asian American translated into being myself, I felt dazed by how I could possibly achieve that. I anticipated workshops that would magically piece together my fragmented identity of being a Chinese in the quagmire of American culture. I anticipated a newfound surge of self-confidence.

I left the conference with neither greater confidence nor pride in my Asian American identity. Instead, I took away something longer-lasting, something more powerful: inspiration. I found inspiration to be more confident in my Asian American identity and to embrace my current self. Such inspiration largely stems from increased understanding of my identity as a Chinese and my identity as an American.

From my first workshop, Free of Failing: Asian Americans and Failure, I learned about how my Asian culture impacts my self-confidence. When the workshop facilitators shared their stories of personal failures, it became evident that both external and internal factors pressure us to excel. While we are internally pressured to maintain Asian cultural values, we are externally pressured to fit society’s definition of the model minority. We bear an internal fear of bringing shame to the family, since Asian culture so heavily emphasizes the individual’s connection to the family. We are externally fearful of being ostracized by society. We are subjected to greater pressure to succeed because we are Asian Americans. This deeply seeded fear of failure is just one example of how being labeled as the model minority oppresses Asian Americans. Such oppression has resulted in high rates of depression and suicide among Asian Americans, particularly among female Asian Americans. Frankly, I have never really thought of how depression and suicide affected the Asian American community because I ignorantly held the mentality that failure is not an option. This workshop revealed how being pedestalized as the model minority actually hurts Asian Americans.

In the second workshop that I attended, Advancing Minority Health through Communications: #DareTo Talk about It, I learned of how stigma perpetuates the cycle of misunderstanding. Though this workshop focused on epilepsy, other applications were also evident. Applying the take-aways from the first workshop, I believe that the social stigma of Asian Americans being better off than other minorities has contributed to the unrecognized high rates of depression and suicide within the Asian American community. Ultimately, I learned that social stigma, whether good or bad, is detrimental.

I attended the panel called Tested. After watching a documentary about the entrance exams to New York’s top three performing high schools, we discussed how New York’s Asian American community is saturated with test prep centers. It was evident the driving force behind the establishment of so many test prep centers was the need to fulfill society’s expectations of Asians being intelligent and good test takers. Again, this panelist revealed the detrimental effects of being labeled as the model minority.

Lastly, the closing ceremony made me realize how despite being burdened by the label of the model minority, Asian Americans are impacting society through varying forms of self-expression. From stand-up comedy to poetry, and from spoken word to musical talent, Asian Americans are leaving their mark on society.

It was truly empowering to be able to attend the 2015 ECAASU Conference. Though the pervading ambiguity frustrated me at times, in retrospect it was also beautiful in that such ambiguity probed me to find purpose in the performances, workshops and panelist. It was beautiful in that the ambiguity gave me an outsider perspective of Asian Americans. I realized the meaning, the oppression behind being the “model minority.” Ryan Takeyima was right in that assimilating is no longer the resolution to finding our way in American society. We must be stand out and be true to ourselves. We must be the new Asian Americans.


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