The Midwest Asian American Students Union: Reflections (Part 2)

12 Apr 2018 4:41 PM

Guest Blogger Guest Blogger

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

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:

Students at banquet table● 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

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.

Kevin K.: The one workshop out of my three that stood out to me the most was mental health in the Asian American community. Being a Kinesiology & Health major, I advocate for a healthy lifestyle. This workshop touched base on the importance of mental health overall and talked about statistics of the Asian demographic. We also went over social barriers that Asian Americans face when discussing these tough topics. The workshop included a “Red Brick” activity that the speaker introduced. Attendees wrote down their personal experiences with mental health, and we walked around in a gallery style to read our peer’s stories. This was a very touching moment in the workshop because we all really got to relate to each other’s stories and learn from one another. Being this my second time at MAASU, my goal in mind was to get as many attendees from Iowa State University to go. The Asian American community is not really strong in Iowa, and my goal was that the attendees saw the bigger picture of what it meant to be an Asian American. Overall, MAASU is a great experience for anyone who feels like they do not have the sense of community, as the conference has thousands of others who share similar stories.

Buena S.: I had the opportunity to attend three different workshops at MAASU this year. The first one was about building my identity as an Asian American. The main theory used in this session was the Kim theory where the presenters led us through many activities to help us understand where we stand in the different stages of our Asian identity. This really helped me decide which stage I consider myself at and how I can keep pushing and advancing myself. The second session was about sex. Sex is not often spoken about in the Asian culture, so the presenters really wanted to educate the people in the session, and try their best to create a trend to normalize the topic of sex in the Asian culture. The reason behind this is for mental and physical health, along with healthy relationships with partners and future family education. The last session I attended at MAASU this year was about mental health. I found out some statistics of Asians being one of the lowest groups to seek mental help services in the US. The presenters offered a lot of resources on how we may be able to look out for others who may be struggling with mental health and is uncomfortable with reaching out. The reason why I chose these sessions is because these are normal topics that the Asian American culture overlooks for unknown reasons. I am hoping to bring back these ideas and new knowledge to Iowa State to help educate students and start normalizing these subjects because students should have all the resources they can receive in college. My overall experience at MAASU was wonderful. We were able to gather twenty-one ISU students to take a trip outside of the state. Many of these students are graduating soon, and I am extremely happy to see that they were able to experience this conference one last time. I believe we have built stronger leaders in the Asian American community at ISU. I am hoping that we will one day (soon) hold the MAASU conference at Iowa State University, so we can build a bigger awareness to the Asian community here and in the Midwest.

Joseph Y.: In one of the following workshops, I was given the chance to hear my speaker talk about how racism is sometimes overlooked in video games. He also brought up how there is not much representation within most of the video games main characters. In past years there were times when video games were not as racial friendly as how it is now. He gave one example where there was a character that was named Sammy Wasabi in a airplane racing game. This character also had a vehicle which was named Kamikaze Express. This was one of the many character stereotypes within the video game. When the speaker talked about representation within video games, he was mainly focused on Asian American representation. He brought up how many of the main protagonist were male caucasians. When we would get a character of a different race, many of them would be side characters or antagonists. Overall I thought this was a fun workshop that actually got me thinking about representation within video games.

Jacquelyn H.: At MAASU, I took a workshop titled “WOC: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Heels” where I had the privilege of listening to a panel of three successful Asian American women discuss their experiences navigating their careers, motherhood, negotiation, and more. This panel consisted of Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, Susan Cho, and Rebecca Nelson. Each woman was distinctly different from the other and all three had varying viewpoints on issues. For example, one woman was a divorced single mother with four kids, one was married but chose not to be a mother, and one was a single mother with an adopted child. The discrimination or general judgment they faced regarding their decisions on motherhood, or the lack there-of, was something I had not thought about as being a topic of future discussion as a young college student, but it was clear that each woman experienced this at some time throughout their lives. I greatly appreciated the numerous perspectives they brought to the table and hearing their success stories empowered me as an Asian American woman soon entering the workforce.


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