By Ethan Yang ’20
On Nov. 18, five Asian cultural clubs from five different colleges convened at Trinity College for the first Intercollegiate Asian American Night. This event was hosted by two first-years Ethan Yang and Hamna Tariq, who are the First Year Representatives for Trinity’s Asian American Student Association (AASA). Also in attendance were the Wesleyan Korean Student Association (KSA), the UConn Filipino American Student Association (FASA), the Connecticut College Asian and Asian American Students In Action (ASIA), and Eastern Connecticut State Asian Cultural Society (ACS).
Dean Spurlock-Evans attended the event, as well as President Berger-Sweeney and Dean DiChristina, who joined in the evening’s events with their families. Both were incredibly pleased with the event, recognizing that it was an unprecedented and historic step in the furthering of Asian American affairs, not just at Trinity, but in the state of Connecticut.
The main event of the evening was a Thanksgiving-style potluck dinner. Each organization for the various colleges and universities brought unique Asian dishes to be served amongst those attending. This symbolized the unity that Trinity AASA hopes to establish throughout Connecticut.
After introductions and dinner, Yang discussed the possible ways students could create a base foundation for a statewide coalition of Asian American clubs. The goals of the coalition are aimed towards facilitating collaboration, unity, as well as communication, with regard to Asian American culture in a state where the current conversation is somewhat nonexistent. The coalition marks the birth of a movement that will augment the presence of Asian American culture as well as diversity within the state of Connecticut.
Once the idea for coalition was introduced, enthusiasm erupted in the crowd and the event proceeded to an open microphone session. During this time, students from countless different backgrounds shared their personal thoughts on the Asian American identity. Eastern Connecticut ACS President, Boronny Touch, shared his personal experience of having immigrant parents. This experience created tremendous tension in his family when it came to tradition and his new American life. Another student spoke about the experience of being both white and Asian. He explained that because of his background, others often criticize him for claiming his Asian heritage because some do not think he looks Asian enough. Matt Franco, a member of UConn FASA, shared a rap he composed about being an Asian American and the struggle of trying to be accepted as part of a predominantly white America. Yang from Trinity AASA shared a speech about the Asian American issue of being caught in the middle. He pointed out that cultural differences have separated Asian Americans from international Asians as well as the other ethnic groups that compose the rest of America.
As the event drew to a close, it was apparent that the concept of coalition was backed by a tremendous amount of momentum. Members from different schools socialized, networked, and planned, eager to increase collaboration to unprecedented levels. Both President Berger-Sweeney and the two Deans in attendance stated that they hope for more events like this from AASA, recognizing the potential for Trinity to be a leader in the cultural development of Connecticut.
Trinity AASA Social Chair Timothy Lee ’18 commented, “this event just put Trinity AASA out there, we are present now.” AASA President Lisa Lee ’17 and Vice President Sanjay Thapa ’17 stated, “We are incredibly proud of the leadership our freshman reps have shown in hosting this event and making this such a success.” Yang concluded the conference, excusing the crowd with a few parting words, “this will only be the first in many collaborations to come… us college students we are the future, we write the laws, we make the rules, we set the boundaries, and it’s going to be us that decides the future of America.”