Issue 01 Outsider

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dedicated to those who have never felt like they’ve belonged know you have a place in this world.



Dear reader, Welcome to the first issue of AZN zine - an online magazine dedicated to bridging the gaps between Asian communities around the world. We are so excited to finally share this issue with you! We started AZN zine because of our passion for spreading cultural awareness and supporting Asian creators around the world. We hope that this zine can be a platform that provides a voice for those who feel as if they do not have one. With every issue, we hope to raise more awareness of our own cultures as well as the other Asian cultures. At the end of the day, our goal is to empower individuals to embrace their heritage and be proud of who they are. Our first issue - Outsider - focuses on the feeling of isolation. There may have been times when we feel as if we don’t belong in our respective communities. This could be because we don’t fit into Western societal norms as an Asian, or experience confusion regarding our own identity. We hope this issue can act as a safe haven for anyone to express their thoughts and emotions through their creativity. This issue is a 30+ page collection of photos, art works, designs, and written pieces. We are so incredibly grateful for our amazing team and contributors who have poured endless hours of hard work into this project. Without them, this issue would not have been possible. So to our team and contributors - thank you for sticking with us on this journey. We truly appreciate every single one of you. To our readers, we hope you enjoy our first issue! Love,

Christina Pan

Clarisse Lee


Observations on Identity

By Isabelle Yang

Model: @yokerona Photographer: Colin Huang | @colinhhuang 06

Identity is something of a strange concept. It isn’t concrete, we can observe identity through our senses like any other concrete object: the smell of recipes passed down through generations, the fabric of traditional dresses, or the sounds we hear spoken in our homes. Identity can also be a feeling — it is expressed in the ways we live, think, and love. To make matters more confusing, identity is often liquid, being composed of the many different experiences that have been collected along our lives. Oftentimes, our identity challenges us, forcing us to grow and emerge. At times, this change may come with an identity different than that of which we initially corresponded with. In other times, these new identities may only add to our already full bags of confusion. Because each of us holds many identities simultaneously, we often become outsiders within our many identities. Each of our identities can be uniquely beautiful, or it can simultaneously be a source of pain and alienation. This sense of being made the “other” is something so inherently painful and isolating. We begin to dread recognizing and appreciating the very things that make us who we are. However, encapsulating these observations, I hope to impart with you one final note.

Being made to feel an outsider is when we are most able to learn about being human. We learn that we can be patient. Being made an outsider has led us to hate ourselves from time to time, sometimes to a point of self-destruction. We know what it feels to be at rock bottom, so we’re able to wait and help those who feel this way. We learn that we can be understanding. Because we have struggled and forced ourselves in vain to fit into so many different molds of expectations, we understand the hardships others may face. We recognize the struggles of our peers. Finally, we learn that, within our many identities, it’s impossible to perfectly fit into or meet the expectations of each identity we have come to recognize ourselves within. Instead, we are but a mosaic of bits and pieces of each identity. It’s not easy to celebrate or to look warmly back on feelings of alienation. Perhaps these are memories that will always be painful. Yet, I believe that as we are met time and time again with the complexities of our many identities, the isolation of being an outsider may teach us all a little more about being kind, understanding, and more human to one another.


Modern Reality of the Asian American Dream Anonymous She kicks her dirty shoes off as soon as she gets home from her jog. Five bowls of white rice are placed on the table as usual. Never give someone a clock as a gift, her mother says, it means you wish for the end of someone’s life. After tossing and turning for an hour, she spends the rest of the night researching the chances of Asian Americans making it in Hollywood. Her mother says: Drinking hot water in the morning can detoxify everything. With a cup of hot water in her hand, she keeps her eyes on the TV as the news reports yet another case of physical assault against a fellow Asian American for coughing. In our culture, the number four is “unlucky,” her mother says, as it is pronounced similarly to “death.” Four million pairs of eyes follow her as she takes a seat in the empty back row. She will never be fully accepted by American society. White flowers are only used at funerals, her mother says. She knows the sweet talk from the White Boy is because she is exotic in his eyes. And so, she is always careful of her words and who she is speaking to. Do not forget about saving face, her mother says. Violence is never the answer, but she’s still taking self-defense classes. She knows they discriminate against her for the color of her skin, but she does not know why they discriminate against skin color. Do not buy from Brandy Melville, her mother says, their clothes were not meant for us.









I’m 20 now, and I still don’t have a clear answer to what I consider “home.”



Throughout my life, I’ve always struggled with my cultural identity because I’m a third culture kid (TCK). TCKs are people who were raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the country of their nationality. Both of my parents are from Singapore, but I was born in New York City because of my dad’s job. I lived there for six years before I moved to Tokyo, where I lived for nine and a half years before I moved to Singapore as my dad retired. I graduated from high school in Singapore and moved to Melbourne for university, where I still am. Having grown up in different cultural environments, I’ve found myself having an identity crisis, especially when people ask me where I call “home.” Growing up in international schools complicated my cultural identity as I interacted with different cultures on a daily basis. My international school taught us to tolerate all differences, be it race, religion, background, etc. I was also taught to embrace and appreciate all cultures, specifically through days dedicated to celebrating cultures from around the world.

where I’m from because I sound like a foreigner. Since my parents educated me on Chinese culture when I was growing up, I’m familiar with Chinese New Year etiquette and food, but I’m still learning every day. I’ve almost stopped trying to fit in because it would just look unnatural.

Still, I was always most familiar with American and Japanese culture. Most of my friends were at least partially American and everyone spoke with the same accent as me. Though it was an ‘international’ school, many activities and aspects of social life were based on American culture. Since the school was in Japan, we also celebrated Japanese festivals and learned Japanese. I became familiar with the slang that my Japanese friends used, and was immersed in Japanese pop culture. I grew up watching Studio Ghibli films and fangirling over Japanese boy groups such as Arashi and EXILE. Weekly karaoke sessions with my family were a must, and all of us were connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine and never missed out on the yearly summer festivals. Despite having grown up in Japan, I’m not Japanese. Whenever people ask me where I’m from, I always answer that I’m “Singaporean-American.” But I’ve never felt completely at home in Singapore. I look like a Singaporean, but I’ve never felt like one. My habits, etiquette, and accent are totally different. Locals ask me

Moving to Australia for my studies has allowed me to also integrate into Australian culture. After spending almost three years here, I’m familiar with Aussie slang and lingo. I’ve gotten used to the accent and I’m happy to be interacting with different cultures on a regular basis. I have friends from all around the world and I love continuing to learn about different cultures and exposing myself to new ideas. I’m 20 now, and I still don’t have a clear answer to what I consider “home.” I’m sure that other third culture kids around the world can relate to my struggle. When you are exposed to so many different cultures at such a young age, it’s hard to identify with just one. Nevertheless, I feel like my struggle has also allowed me to embrace all the cultures that I could identify with, and I’m thankful for the unique experiences I’ve had.

Lindsay Wong 17

Art by S. Chung


I find these four walls to be circling me, ever so quietly, almost silently, save for the occasional creak. They’re watching me,

open to the world, only the world cannot see— they guard me from it, perhaps leering, but guarding. To be truthful, their intentions are unknown to me, their faces blank. Eyes invisible,

Oskar Leonard

Four Walls

they see me vulnerable,

minds hidden—they may be pure and dignified, or they may attack me with their eyes—their tongues are tied.


Melvin Tan

What are you doing? What are you all doing? What are you all doing now? Homesick. A longing so persistent, like a breath I can’t let go. Counting, waiting. Till we arrive home again. Tossing, turning. Till we dream together again. Hoping, praying. Till we become us again. Time is slow for those who wait: text messages, the words we speak; video calls, the faces we see; brief visits, the warmth we feel. For now I can only lie here, thinking of my home. Dedicated to every migrant worker


Photographer: Alicia Park




issue 01 playlist


Whalien 52 BTS

If There’s Nothing Left... NIKI

When You Come Home Rich Brian

小幸運 Hebe Tian

songs to listen to when you feel alone alone

Tonight I’m Here Marcus Chang

two faced slchld

Little Star Standing Egg

It’s Okay Clara Benin









Lately, I’ve been feeling like a little fish living life in a great, round fish

bowl. I know I’m not. But for metaphorical purposes let’s pretend I am a little, turquoise-colored fish with glinting, silvery scales and fluttering gills that open and close as I swim in my glass bowl. My swimming is confined to the rounded, hollowed insides of this watery, translucent cage but life is calm; there’s no real danger, and all I need to do is float and swim calmly and life is good. As long as I swim in my bowl as I always have, I can ignore the recent headlines that almost seem to exist in a sci-fi novel. Headlines that reveal a story of racial tensions, death and disease, hopelessness and confusion, and a world where terror and change threaten our perception of a “normal” life. 32

I always grew up a bit caught between two worlds, half-Korean in a predominately white town. Some summers, my parents took me back to my mother’s hometown in South Korea and I would resume my ‘other’ life speaking Korean with friends and cousins, eating traditional spicy dishes, and going to K-pop concerts. But, I also grew up in a world of Cape Cod vacations, Diet Coke and McDonald’s hamburgers, and shopping trips with friends to Brandy Melville and American Eagle. I’ve always felt a disconnect between these two worlds that seemed to me like two balloons, held in my one hand, but floating apart from each other. Perhaps I didn’t like the part of me that set me apart from others. In light of recent events, I started reading other POC’s messages about unpleasant, racist experiences within my town and I grew depressed. Never before had I felt so aware of the societal meaning placed upon the colors of our skin. Never before did I truly start to realize that POC’s existence was threatened because of the shape of our eyes, the melanin in skin, or the different languages that we spoke from our lips that were passed down through our ancestors’ tongues. This depression grew into a fiery seed of anger within that I had never felt before. I began to question my own racial and personal identity. I became more aware of the world’s harsh realities. I started wondering if I could be ‘whitewashed’. I started asking myself why I felt uncomfortable talking about my culture and why I would even sometimes make jokes about being Asian. I re-examined all the times I just let things slide: a teacher commenting on my ‘exotic’ look or a driving instructor asking if my mother is “Oriental.” This summer, I again felt like that fish in her fishbowl who watched the world she used to know. All the places and people that she once felt so familiar with now felt so disconnected from her. The bowl I swam in allowed me to stand back and gain a shifted perspective -more demanding and inquisitive, no longer assimilating or accepting of the world. How will I come to terms with my own racial identity and do my part to change a world that I wish would be more accepting of my BIPOC brothers and sisters? Color is important. Representation is important. And most of all, justice is important. This time we live in may seem scary, terrifying, and uncomfortable, but I believe that without it, I would never have truly started questioning the world I live in or seen it in a new harsh light. I have come to realize this may be the best time to not only take action and gain perspective, but also to be reminded to love myself for who I am and to be forgiving towards myself. To never forget that my beautiful skin was passed down from the countless men and women who came before. So while we continue to live in this strange reality, I hope we may all hug ourselves and love our unique beauty, and keep looking forward to a future that we hope will be different from yesterday. 33

DOUBLE OUT I feel lost in two worlds forced to collide. One that must be continuously adapted while the other seeps through my blood. What identity must I take on? Who am I to be in order to be accepted by those around me? I am both lost, unsure. I look in the mirror and see the confusion of my skin. Suitable but not completely adapted. Whether I pick one or the other is questioning, and here I am just stuck at the border. Stepping in both directions to please. Angelica Marie


Art by Cami Kuruma | @marikuruko