The Midwest Asian American Students Union: Reflections (Part 1)

12 Apr 2018 4:35 PM

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The Midwest Asian American Students Union strives to recognize the needs of the Asian Pacific Islanders American (APIA) Community.

The following list contains the objectives of MAASU:

Photo of students huddled together. Gold balloons spelling MAASU in the background● Assist schools with the establishment of APIA student organizations, APIA cultural center and/or an Asian American Studies Program

● Promote leadership among APIA students through programs including, but not limited to, the Leadership Retreat, Spring Conference and other various programming

Address educational needs and rights of the APIA community and provide scholarship information for all APIA students

● Develop and maintain a channel of communication for APIA student organizations in the Midwest through e-mails, bi-weekly newsletter and networking

Support and encourage all APIA students to work toward social change by providing a forum for social consciousness

● Unite and strengthen the APIA community‘s stance against all forms of oppression Student Responses: We asked each attendee to write a summary of their workshops and what their take away. We also asked what their overall MAASU take away was.

This spring, several students from ISU attended the conference....learn about their experiences in this series of posts!


Christine B.: I am grateful that I was able to attend the Midwest Asian American Students Union conference. I was very excited to be surrounded with a large audience of other Asian American/ Pacific Islanders students that might share similar struggles and give me tips on what works for them on their campuses. My family group leader was really nice and the family group bonded over lunch. Our group chat is still being used, two weeks after the conference. It helps everyone in the family group understand how other students in their campus' Asian interest organizations worked.

I attended three workshops: Hand lettering your way to happiness, Asian Student Leadership, and Friends DO Make a Difference. Out of the three, Friends DO make a Difference was my favorite. The speaker had us do an exercise where if a statement applied to you, you stepped into the circle. It was to show us that we have many similarities in our stories, especially the parts we don't talk about often, such as if our parents made us speak English in the house or if we think we have to marry someone of a particular ethnicity. We later on discussed intergenerational differences and how it might affect dialogue about mental health. I felt like I gained information that I will actually use in my personal life. Hand lettering your way to happiness was also interesting because someone was speaking about breaking the mold of having to be in a certain career field. The speaker showed us that our creative outlets can become something that we earn some money off of, even if we did not intend for it to become our full time job. It was inspiring to see someone get recognized for a creative hobby that was not science based or famous for it.

Jaki D.: I went to a workshop called “Building Blocks of Identity: Crafting Asian American Power through Counter Narratives” with 4 others from ISU. Compared to the other workshops that I attended, this one was the one that struck me the most and stayed in my mind until we returned to Ames. We discussed social stereotypes, cultural identities and how Asians assimilate themselves into white culture. We had an activity where we had to map out our progress through life. There was a point during the activity where I realized that I had to adjust even my own name so that it can accommodate myself going through employment for white employers. I think that through the activity, I rediscovered some parts of my Filipino identity even though I’ve only been in the U.S. for 4 years. My own cultural identity has been disrupted because of the culture shock that I experienced coming to America. There have been some instances where I’ve had to readjust myself for white culture and somehow forget my own values tied to my country’s culture. This workshop made me think about my identity even deeper even though I do believe that I’m more Filipino than other Filipinos I’ve met. I still question this thought at times though.

Mia N.: This had been my second year attending the MAASU spring conference. Comparing to my first year, I would say this was a better, more educative, and fun experience. I believe what makes MAASU an unforgettable experience is the people you go with. It is a place where you make memories and form new relationships with each other. How I see MAASU is an incredible opportunity to meet and network with other AAPI college students within the Midwest. It gives a chance for our group to make several connections that we would usually not see at our own university. The workshops were well organized and provoked a lot of discussion within the Asian identity. They have the opportunity to build character and enhance leadership skills. I would highly recommend MAASU to any self-identifying AAPI student to attend.

Kevin P.: I had a great experience at MAASU. The workshops I attended, although a couple were not the best prepared, were interesting to me. One of the workshops I attended was called Building Blocks. In this workshop, the speakers talked about the “steps” a person will go through as apart of the APIDA community. I thought the idea of these steps were interesting, although I felt as though I did not have all the experiences they listed even though they said everyone would go through them at some point in their lives. I felt like I only had a couple of the experiences they listed. One of them being along the lines of wanting to not be apart of the APIDA community or wanting to change something about themselves. At one point of my life, I did not like my last name because it was too long and hard to pronounce. Part of the workshop was also discussion. I met a transfer student from Malaysia. It was just a get to know you kind of activity but it was interesting hearing a little about someone from a different culture. Also it was an interesting experience to listen to some of the struggles some of the other students had. Personally, I never had an experience where me being Asian really affected me. Another workshop I went to talked about how we as Asians keep being asked “What are you anyway?” It was about how being Asian or mixed affected our lives through spoken word. I thought it was cool to hear some of the poetry the instructor and some of the other students shared and how deep they can be. Overall, I had a great experience at MAASU and learned about many new topics about being Asian. I learned about the problems we as a community were facing that I had never personally faced myself.

This is part of a four-part series on the MAASU Conference: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4

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