New Asian American Voices and more from the 1990 Institute

June 1, 2023 | Here are three projects the 1990 Institute, one of our partner organizations, they have been working on recently: 1. New Asian American Voices – this is one of the 1990 IG channels that highlight AA stories and contributors. Today they uplift AAPI Youth Rising and the work we all do and posted: This is also a good resource for finding trailblazers in our community. 2. They are launching their first comedy series called ChatAAPI tomorrow morning. It will be featured on the 1990 YouTube channel. Be the first ones to watch it and give a thumbs up and comment. Here are some BTS 3. Finally, they will have their second Teachers Workshop on June 28th at 3pm. The U.S. China relationship is the most important one in our lifetimes. This workshop will explore the historical and current tensions between the U.S. and China and how they have shaped the complex relationship between the two countries, which impacts the entire global community. Their esteemed panel of experts will provide insights into the differing positions of both countries and how they can coexist moving forward.

Truly Free?

“Come on, Meimei,” my mom said in Mandarin, “we’re going to Trader Joe’s.” We were walking through the plaza parking lot when a white woman loudly shouted, “speak English!” at us. Sadly, this wasn’t the first or last time we—my family and the AANHPI community—have faced this and other forms of discrimination. Many do not recognize the prevalence of xenophobia and racism toward the AANHPI community until they witness it firsthand, like how I did. As a Taiwanese American girl with immigrant parents, I grew up with one foot rooted in my heritage and the other in my American upbringing. I would speak Chinese with my parents at home but strictly spoke English outside of the house. As a young child, I learned that speaking Mandarin was discouraged in public. Until I understood the context of our political climate, I accepted this as a societal norm without question. My family had a French acquaintance who was proud of speaking her native language loudly in public claiming, “Americans found it hot,” yet when my mother exchanged a few Mandarin words in public, we were met with a hateful insult, which begs the question: how can two equally “foreign” languages in a predominantly English-speaking country be view upon so differently? Clearly, the answer lies in bias toward the languages’ country of origin; French is seen as an elegant and educated language from Europe, while Chinese and other Asian languages are viewed as alien, strange, and even ugly. Chinese, like many other East Asian languages, have elegant pictographic characters—every written word is a piece of art. For example, 加油, jiāyóu, is made of simple shapes that form a complex message that cannot be easily translated into English. It is an exclamation showing one’s support for the person they are cheering for. My knowledge of Chinese words provides multiple facets of expression and communication. By maintaining our native tongues, we celebrate our culture and keep a part of our identities that can be lost in American life. Culture organizes our experiences, as it can bring a sense of community through shared history and traditions. Asian Americans like me are granted the gift of bilingualism, allowing me to see the world through more than one lens; my bilingualism should be celebrated, not looked down upon. America’s values are built on freedom and equality, but many people are unaccepting of our country’s growing diversity. In this “free” country, people lost their freedom to speak their native tongues without being discriminated against, insulted, or even beaten. We are not free to celebrate our heritage, free to be Asian American, free to express our identities. Instead, we are oppressed for using non-“American” languages, spat at for our proud Asian descent, losing a part of ourselves and our community for conformity. What kind of “free” country do we live in if we are not truly free to be ourselves?

Eloise Teaches our Lesson to Chandler School

May 26, 2023 | The presentation was really fun, (mostly because I was doing it to much older kids than me) the only thing I had a problem with was that I didn’t get that many lines to read. I also liked that it wasn’t with people that I totally didn’t know. If it was with other kids (other than my grade) I would’ve been too scared/nervous to do it. Some of the kids didn’t know what the answers were to some of the questions. I learned some things too like what the Model Minority myth was. I also thought that the presentation was really cool, and we got a lot of focus.

Hudson Teaches our Lesson to Chandler School

May 25, 2023 | Teaching the AYR lesson was cool. I got to teach it to the classes in 5th grade at my school. Getting to present for the first time with familiar faces was helpful training, so I would know what to expect in other schools. The lesson itself was cool to present especially because I got to learn some stuff that I didn’t know before presenting. I got to learn about income disparity which I thought was interesting. The model minority myth I did not know a lot about, and I got to learn why it’s bad, what it is, and why it was made. I also did not know about the perpetual foreigner myth. The lesson plan was great and I think that the lesson was very well done.

Chapter Leader Emma Leading AAPI Empowerment

May 22, 2023 | Throughout my involvement in the AAPI State Council and as an active leader of AAPI Youth Rising, I have advocated for the recognition and celebration of AAPI heritage in my school during AAPI Heritage Month in May. This year, the theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” To achieve this goal, I have taken several significant steps. First, I have conducted multiple AAPI History presentations in various classes. These presentations aim to educate fellow students about the rich history, culture, and contributions of the AAPI community. By sharing these important stories, I hope to increase awareness and promote a deeper understanding of the experiences and struggles faced by AAPI individuals. Additionally, I felt the need for a dedicated space where AAPI students can come together, celebrate their cultural identities, and address the underrepresentation of AAPI voices. Consequently, I took the initiative to establish an AAPI Club at my school. This club serves as a supportive platform, empowering AAPI students to express themselves, share their experiences, and advocate for increased awareness and representation. Motivated by my personal experiences as an Asian American and a strong desire to address the awareness of AAPI Heritage within the school district, I took the proactive step of scheduling an appointment with the superintendent to further discuss the importance of dedicating One Day of AAPI heritage in May throughout the entire district. I believe that by highlighting the significance of this event and its potential impact on fostering inclusivity and cultural understanding, we can garner support and facilitate its implementation. As part of my advocacy efforts, I will present my proposal to the school board. By emphasizing the value of dedicating One Day to AAPI awareness, I hope to demonstrate the positive effects it can have on the educational environment, promoting diversity, and empowering AAPI students to become leaders within the community. In addition to my other endeavors, I collaborated with the Multicultural Committee at my school to organize and coordinate the multicultural showcase for students to proudly present and share their diverse cultural heritage and history. We provided students with a unique opportunity to showcase their cultural identities through a variety of performances, from traditional dances to music, poetry, and storytelling, followed by a captivating fashion show featuring diverse traditional attire. It was an unforgettable experience that not only celebrated our differences but also highlighted the shared humanity that unites us all. Through these actions, I aspire to contribute to the broader goal of promoting AAPI awareness and representation. Together, through my passion, dedication and willingness to advocate for AAPI heritage, we can create a more inclusive and equitable school environment for all. Proud to be an Asian American! – Emma Yu

Wonderful Meeting with Gainsight

May 22, 2023 | Mei and I were honored to be invited to speak on the fireside chat/panel discussion at Gainsight’s weekly meeting for AAPI heritage month! We spoke online to around 200 employees from around the world. We spoke on our personal experiences with being an AAPI youth as well as the work AYR has been doing recently. I specifically talked about my experience of being an Asian adoptee and how being from another country influences my approach on things. While Mei talked about her experiences growing up as a AAPI women in Michigan and the struggles that comes with living in a predominantly white area. It was amazing being able to share our stories and give advice on how to start speaking up and advocating and making the workplace a more inclusive place. -Mimi Tuden

Mini Pill, Macro Problem

I had my first period when I was in 4th grade at only 10 years old. It was incredibly painful. Almost all the women in my family have had hysterectomies before menopause due to Uterine Fibroids, which are essentially dormant tumors that form in your uterus causing pressure, pain, bloating and other issues. In addition to this, almost all the women on both sides of my family have endometriosis, which makes periods much more painful. I lived with those symptoms for 6 days a month until 7th grade, when I was 13. My periods started to last for months at a time without stopping. My iron levels started to dip, and I was losing weight because I was constantly nauseous from the pain. So I went to the doctor, to see what could be done. They gave me prescription ibuprofen and left it at that. I went to another doctor, and they said this was normal. I went to another and they agreed with the prior doctor. Another one said there was nothing to do since I was so young. One more had the audacity and disrespect to say I was faking it to get birth control so I could be sexually active. I lost 15 lbs, fainted twice, and missed a week of school before one doctor finally gave me a prescription for progestin based birth control pills, called mini pills, that would help to regulate my period. It worked. Finally. My past situation demonstrates how incredibly difficult it is to obtain preventative birth control. The need for a prescription in so many places to obtain birth control, especially for minors, is a huge roadblock. Some people can’t afford doctors, others can go because of parents. Some people don’t have the time to go to the doctor, others have language barriers that make it difficult, and even more are just afraid of being judged or written off like I was. We need change in the medical field. Women and girls need more respect and trust when they seek treatment, and anything else in dangerous neglect.