The Midwest Asian American Students Union: Reflections (Part 3)

12 Apr 2018 4:45 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:

● 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.

Adam N.: This semester I attended my first MAASU convention. Being that it was my first MAASU, I didn’t know what to expect going in but now that I have experienced it I can say that it was a wonderful experience filled with learning and great networking opportunities. This convention really help me connect with my own identity because I got to meet with other AAPI students and through sharing our experiences I felt like we strengthen the bonds of our community. Another reason why I enjoyed MAASU was because I got to meet with other multicultural/AAPI interest fraternities and sororities and talk about how the spreads awareness on their campus. This really help me form an idea on what I want my fraternity to bring to Iowa State.

Tran N.: Coming into Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU) for the very first time as an attendee, I did not know what to expect. I had never been surrounded by so many people like me before -- people who all wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I attended three workshops of the many that were provided. The first workshop was called "Whitening Your Resume." Upon choosing this workshop, I wanted to explore what it meant to "whiten" a resume, and found that it was as simple as that -- entering your name to sound "white" or putting on past experiences that might sound "white" such as being team captain for any major sport in high school or participating in anything that white people are stereotyped to do. What is the purpose of doing so? When AAPI or APIDA individuals go out looking for jobs, it's hard to attain one unless you have those experiences or qualities of what a white person might hold. I connected this workshop similar to what other minorities, such as black people, experience when finding jobs. The likelihood of any minorities obtaining a job is higher if they enter an "American" name rather than a foreign name. The second workshop I attended introduced me to a leadership conference called "Asian Student Leadership Conference" which is a one-day conference encompassing Asian culture in America. It creates an opportunity for high school students from different backgrounds to fully embrace their culture or a culture they appreciate. The last workshop I attended was called "Fighting Mental Health Stigma." This session discussed about the ways to approach someone who is struggle with mental health issues and learning how to help them in the best way possible whether it is encouraging them to seek help or just being there and listening to them. Especially among Asian-Americans or APIDA individuals, mental health is not often talked about among themselves or families because they don't feel comfortable. Because it is not common to talk about mental health, it is important to learn what strategies can help erase mental health stigma and while sharing developmental journeys on becoming advocates for mental wellness. These workshops taught me that being an Asian/Asian American or AAPI individual in America is not only challenging at times, but can put a big toll on our confidence in our culture(s) and identity/ies. However, if we start to embrace who we are and where we come from while sharing stories of similar backgrounds and paths of our ancestors, the connection that many of us desire between one another intertwines and we become a greater AAPI community of leaders. These are kind of leaders that wish to advocate for AAPI awareness in institutions and anywhere else in which we have little representation. MAASU has taught me that building that connection with one another whether you are Asian or not and having confidence in yourself makes a great leader within everyone both inside the AAPI community and outside of it.

Francis J.: "I am thankful for the experience of being able to attend MAASU this semester. It was my first opportunity to meet up with other members of the AAPI community. As an Asian American and also a member of Greek Life with an Asian American interest it was a surreal opportunity for me to network with other members from different states. Meeting those members provided me insight on what the AAPI culture is like in surrounding Universities. There we some positive and negative aspects to the different cultures, but I got helpful insight on how I can be a leader in the AAPI community at Iowa State University. Attending the workshops of MAASU were eye-opening. I had the opportunity to meet several politicians who identify as Asian-American and had an insightful discussion with other students who were interested in joining the political field one day. Additionally, as a Filipino I had many opportunities to learn from Filipino students who grew up in the Philippines, West Coast, and in the Midwest. I began to see the different cultural barriers that exist and how intersectionality plays a huge role in identity. MAASU was a great experience for me and I hope to go again next year!

Jasmine L.: Out of the three sessions/ workshops that I had to attend, the first session is what really inspired me the most. It was about being an Asian-American women in the working fields and how they ended up in a higher work position that they never imagined being in. This session had 3 guest speakers but the one I resonated the most with was, Frances Kai-hwa Wang. Her story about how she had 9 jobs to support her 3 kids and is a single mother really inspired me. She talked about how she took every job opportunity given to her, even if it didn’t correlate with what she wanted to do because through that, she found her actual passion of journalism.

Kristi L.: Attending MAASU 2018 at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio was my second time at this conference. Even though I did not get into the workshops that I wanted there were some moments within the workshops that I have taken away with me. In my first workshop, the topic was about “The Whiteness of our Asian-ness” where we evaluated four words (Asian, American, Asian-American, and ethnicity) and what they meant to us. My last workshop was also impactful as they talked about what it means to be an Asian-American leader. I have enjoyed attending MAASU with my fellow Iowa State students but I was also excited about the opportunity to meet others from different colleges and universities. MAASU is an opportunity to make new connections and to potentially create lasting bonds. Since I attended last year as well, I found someone from my previous family group and we spent time during the opening ceremony to catch up as well!

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