Sparks Magazine Issue No. 13 | University of Central Florida

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Cover Photo/Vi Huynh



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FROM AMERICA, 10 WITH LOVE BY Klarizza Aggabao

DARE TO DREAM 12 BY Samantha Boddupalli

FOOD FRAUD 14 BY Christina Shoji




TONES OF TRADITION 24 BY Jasmine Gabriel

A HOUSE DIVIDED 28 BY Zachariah Chou





table of contents 30 36 19 24

letter from the editor Dear reader,


parks has come a long way in the three

ing in with tabling, volunteering, and spreading

and a half years I’ve been on the staff

the message of Sparks. Having more people help

at the University of Central Florida. At

out this time around really made a difference,

first, our numbers were small, and they’re still

and this especially goes for our editors who did

small, but our community is growing. October

an amazing job of ensuring we met deadlines

marked a major milestone for us, because we

on time.

held the first-ever Sparks Leadership Summit at UCF. Chapters from the University of Florida,

This issue, readers can expect some innova-

University of South Florida, and National

tive topics. One writer covers the perspectives

Board congregated to discuss student activism,

of Asian Americans who identify as Leftists,

professional journalism, and Asian and Pacific

taking into account the political climates their

Islander American issues.

parents left behind. Another discusses the various reasons APIAs are moving to Asia for work,

This semester, we’ve been slowly expanding our

a topic many readers may not have considered

presence on campus. Members of the Multicul-

before. Additionally, we explore the connection

tural Student Center and Student Government

between speaking a tonal language and develop-

Association are now familiar with us. Not to

ing a musical ear. Finally, we consider what it

mention, thanks to APAC Assembly at the

means to be an activist and an introvert, a topic

beginning of the school year, we were able to get

that resonates with me. May each reader find

our name out to many of UCF’s Asian organiza-

something beautiful in this issue that resonates


with them, whether it be through a quote, an image, or a shared experience.

The spirit of collaboration has been with us this semester. Not just within the community atlarge, but also within our team. I’m so grateful


to all our hard-working staff members for pitch-

Thalia Su Editor-in-Chief


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Thalia Su • MANAGING EDITOR Ann Dang • PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR Nica Angelica Ramirez • PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Jordan Rich DESIGN EDITOR Ebone Grayson • WRITERS Jasmine Gabriel, Jenny Le, Anusha Makhani, Valentina Velasquez • PHOTOGRAPHERS Paola Chinchilla, Minh Thu Nguyen, Erin Rich • DESIGNERS Danielle Diaz-Boye, Simon Fevrier, Jessica Moore (NOT PICTURED: Rikki Ocampos, Vi Hyunh, Sarah Siraj)


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alexandria Ng • MANAGING EDITOR Alyssa Ramos • CONTENT EDITORS Maya Punjwani, Megan Palm • DESIGN EDITOR Kathy Xie • PHOTO EDITOR Megan Mizusawa • PHOTO EDITOR Ashley Williams • ILLUSTRATIVE EDITOR Ingrid Wu • ONLINE EDITOR Nicole Dan • PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR Sarah Cheung • PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR Priya Mohan • FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Pooja Gupte WRITERS Klarizza Aggabao, Samantha Boddupalli, Kayla Davidson, Jerry Lee, Kaylyn Ling, Jenine Marquez , Ashley Nguyen, Christina Shoji • WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Zachariah Chou • PR Esther Kim • WRITER & PR Jung Kim • PHOTOGRAPHER Aaron Lacambra • PHOTOGRAPHER & PR Ashley Leong • VIDEOGRAPHER Jessica Lim Liwag • PHOTOGRAPHER & DESIGNER Bisma Masudi • WRITER & DESIGNER Hasin Sharma • DESIGNER & PR Amber Siddiqui • PHOTOGRAPHER & DESIGNER An Vuong • WRITER & DESIGNER Joanna Zhuang (NOT PICTURED: Radhika Kolembekar, Anisha Dutt, Jasmyne Trimble)


FORWARD Asian Americans develop ever-growing presence in fashion industry


BY Jung Kim

“When Asians first came into this country, it was important to assimilate. But now that they’re in a more comfortable and powerful position, we’re more open with expressing our true heritage,” said Kevin Huynh, Wall Street Journal fashion assistant and a 2015 alumnus of the University of Florida.

PHOTOGRAPHY/ Ashley Williams

ith a growing influence in the fashion industry, Asian Americans are taking their stand in the spotlight and claiming their identities in this form of cultural expression.

“I feel like Asian style is very prolific right now in the fashion industry because quite a few of the successful designers are Asian, such as Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, and the list goes on,” Huynh said. “It’s hard to pinpoint Asian style to an exact definition, but you can tell a lot from an Asian’s style especially if they’re coming abroad.” The trends put together by the Asian American community have formed a notable evolution in the history of fashion, according to Huynh. Whether it be the embellishments of Chinese garments or the subtle lining of Japanese apparel, the Asian American influence is present, Huynh said.

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DESIGN/Bisma Masudi

Historically, Asian Americans generally conformed to the patterns of their host country, Huynh said. Now with increased buying power, fashion markets are becoming more accommodating toward the wants of Asian Americans.

“If you dissect the trends, you see the influences of everything … it’s so prevalent that it’s beautiful,” Huynh said. “What interests me the most is when you see a modern designer looking at Asian style through modern lens. It doesn’t have to be so literal, maybe an embellishment looks like a bamboo leaf.” In incorporating Asian themes into modern fashion, the looming threat of losing cultural significance appears. The border of cultural appropriation and appreciation blurs with recent fashion milestones.


Many Asian designers have gone lengths to modernize traditional wear, and many trends now include the utilization of historical garments as style statements, turning tradition into creativity. “Fashion is constantly evolving,” said Lauren Vu, the internal vice president of the Asian American Student Union (AASU) at the University of Florida. “Even when remodeling cultural pieces, however, it’s important to keep the core value to preserve its traditional significance.” Vu recalls seeing an Áo dài, a traditional Vietnamese garment with thigh-high slits being sold in a store. Traditionally worn with pants, the cultural piece was sold without them. “To sell this as something edgy and cool is wiping out the heritage of this piece,” Vu said. At UF, Asian Kaleidoscope Month (AKM) hosts a fashion show every October displaying lavish pieces from Asian American designers as a way of tuning into and symbolizing Asian heritage. “I believe it is important for the audience to know the cultural significance behind the designer’s piece beforehand, so they can observe the details the designer put into each piece and know where they got their inspiration from,” said Regine Coloso, the director of the 2017 AKM fashion show. With Asian American fashion influencers like Jenn Im,

Michelle Phan and Karen Yeung, this generation of Asian Americans are finding their voice and carving out their niche in the fashion industry.

space for themselves, some are continuing to do so in what they wear and in their involvement at the forefront of the fashion world.

“I think millennials and even members of Gen-Z in general are really focused on creating their own personal brands and making sure people know what makes them stand out as an individual,” said Joy Hong, a self-titled fashion blogger. “However, Asian fashion in particular has always been a little more avantgarde and adventurous. Asia’s proud to be on the forefront of innovation, not only in technology, but also in fashion.”


The future of the fashion industry seems to encompass wider diversity, headed toward a heterogeneity that comes from the incorporation of multiple cultures. “I’d love to see more Asian Americans unapologetically pursue fashion as a viable career path,” Hong said. “It’s not the most accepted career choice in our culture, but I think there’s a real space for Asian Americans in the fashion industry, whether it’s in designing or even blogging and content-creating.” Shifts in the fashion industry are noted not only in the styles offered but also in the hands that are creating them and the cultures being showcased. As Asian Americans continue to seek out and carve a


Asian Americans have always played a role in American politics. From campus activism to national politics, it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore the impact of the Asian American community and the crucial part it plays in the shaping of American society. People across the political spectrum agree — the results of the 2016 presidential election

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propelled American politics into unexplored According to Gloria Li, a third-year environterritory. Even though the 2016 electorate mental science and philosophy double major was the United States’ most ethnically and ra- at the University of Florida who works in encially diverse, fewer than half of eligible Asian vironmental youth activism, it can be difficult American voters casted ballots in the election, for students to justify time for activism in their according to the Pew Research Center. The busy schedules. center reports that despite being the nation’s fastest growing racial group, Asian Americans “Pushing college students to participate in only accounted for about 3.6 percent of all vot- political processes presents a challenge to the ers in the last year. As such, the Asian Ameri- Asian American community,” Li said. can community’s low rates of voter turnout deserve examination. Speaking of college acThere are many reasons tivism beyond the UC I ALWAYS THINK MORE Berkeley sphere, which for such low voter turnCAN BE DONE.” out; however, the root of has historically acted the issue seems to be in—OTHELIA JUMAPAO as the center of Asiangrained in the psyche of American college activthe community. ism, Li said, “I don’t think enough Asian Americans get involved.” “As Asian Americans, when we buy into that model minority myth, we don’t want to be Li said that there are a variety of reasons why political,” said Jumapao, who minors in Asian Asian Americans in particular are hesitant to American studies and interned with Congress- participate in political action, especially partiman Darren Soto, Democratic representative san politics. for Florida’s Ninth District. One reason concerns values typically ascribed Jumapao suggests that the “American Dream” to the Asian American community, which em– the notion that American citizens can phasize education as a means to success, thereachieve success through perseverance and by placing partisan politics in a place of lesser hard work – feeds into apathy that will trickle importance for Asian American students. Acdown into younger generations. Hard work is cording to Li, this view can be damaging, since seen as the ultimate path to success, while little every domain of society is influenced by policonsideration is given to the racism embedded tics. in the system.



he personal is political,” said Othelia Jumapao, a third-year University of Florida student. Her assertion reverberates with power, echoing the mantra of American activist groups from the 1960s. Even today, the slogan rings no less true than it did nearly six decades ago, and its significance has the possibility of serving as the foundation for renewed political vigor in the Asian American community.

BY Ashley Nguyen

Asian Americans discuss their roles in political power structures

“No matter what field or what role you play in society, there’s going to be some kind of civics orientation to it,” she said. The aftermath of the 2016 election has provided fuel for campus activism, but the Asian American community seems to lack momentum and cohesiveness, at least outside of U.C. Berkeley and other universities in the western U.S.

American congressional representation. Among these 15 representatives and senators is representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s 7th District, the first Vietnamese American woman ever elected to the United States Congress. Other Asian Americans who gained seats include Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Senator Kamala Harris of California and Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th District.

“There are certain issues that tend to mobilize the Asian American community in the United States and I think it’s kind of a matter of time. Political engagement and participation really require a sense of organization, funding and building a kind of network in order for this to take off,” Li said.

Representation is only one important factor in the role that Asian Americans play in politics. What these representatives and senators bring to the table deserves close scrutiny. UF alumnus Jaewon Jang, a congressional staffer for a Republican representative from Colorado, stated, “There’s a gap between what is being said and the follow-up.”


“It’s interesting to see how unprogressive some of these people are. If they are actually representing these populations, they ought to be working on progressive racial politics,” Schueller said. “A progressive racial agenda would recognize that structural racism is, you know, part of the fabric of the country, and there has to be an awareness of that and policies that mitigate the effects of racism on populations that are most vulnerable.”

Malini Johar Schueller, Ph.D., coordinator for the Asian American Studies minor at the University of Florida, believes that there is not a nationwide Asian American movement, but rather small pockets of activism throughout the United States. Jumapao said she believes that Asian American activism exists, but as a “steady underground subculture,” that is less visible than other activist groups. In terms of building a more politically active Asian American community, both Li and Jumapao stressed the importance of issue-based campaigns. “We can get [students] to be more involved by highlighting or spotlighting issues that impact them directly,” Li said. Her work with EarthEcho, an environmental youth activist group, compels her to raise awareness and catalyze action to mitigate the impact of climate change, which is an issue that acutely impacts all Floridians. Finding common political issues that affect Asian Americans as a community and organizing to solve those issues is an important strategy in pushing Asian Americans into the political process, Li said.

Schueller suggests that economic class is key in considering racially progressive politics. “For example, you have to be against policies that take away welfare from poor communities,” Schueller said. She highlights the importance of understanding racism as an “integral structure [that] is linked to class structure.” As such, it is crucial that we examine the role that our communities have played in today’s political landscape and find ways to actively engage the Asian American community in this landscape. “We have to show that we’re willing to get involved in the nitty and gritty of the American political process,” Li said.

Jumapao echoes Li’s sentiments, emphasizing the importance of action under a unified movement. She highlights that solidarity with other minority groups has always been a pillar of the Asian American movement. “I always think that more can be done,” Jumapao said. “Solidarity and coalition-building – you got to show up. You got to show up to those protests and campaigns.” As for the 115th Congress, Asian Americans achieved a record in terms of Congressional representation. More Asian Americans were voted into Congress than ever before in history. However, the total number of Congressional representatives and senators remains relatively low in comparison to other ethnic groups. Only 15 Asian Americans are serving in Congress, a figure lower than that of Hispanic and African

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From America, With Love Asian Americans send money and packages back to families in homelands


“It’s the Filipino custom,” Pescador said. “Usually in time for Christmas is when we send our boxes, and my relatives are always so thankful.” Forex Cargo Florida, established in 1987, is a company that helps Filipino American families send balikbayan boxes to cities in the Philippines, according to its website.

However, there are rules when it comes to sending physical goods to the Philippines. The Republic of the Philippines Bureau of Customs

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“I have nieces and nephews back home, and we try to support them when they go to school,” Pescador said. “Whether they want to go become teachers or nurses or doctors, usually what they need to get their education is the financial support every semester.” Pescador said that there is a Western Union in her town back home, which allows her family to receive the money in a timely manner. In the past, the only way she could send money was through mail, which would take weeks for her family to receive. Unlike Pescador, Luis Almanzor, a Tallahassee resident, researches money transfer websites to send money and usually picks the one that has the best exchange rate. He sends balikbayan boxes once or twice a year, and he sends money every three months. “Usually, I send old clothes that we don’t want


Forex Cargo Florida, located in Jacksonville, Florida, offers four different box sizes. According to its website, the company ships boxes every two weeks, there is no weight limit and they do not use a third party to handle the packages.

According to a representative from Western Union, the Philippines is one of the top countries in the world to receive money transfers.


Milagros Pescador, a retired Tallahassee resident, said she uses Western Union to send money to family members back home. She also uses balikbayan companies to send old clothes and electrical appliances to her family as well. Balikbayan is a word in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. It has two root words: balik, meaning return, and bayan, meaning

Every semester, Pescador sends money to her extended family in the Philippines for their education and for medical school.

specifies that balikbayan boxes should only include personal and household items that can’t be resold in commercial quantities. Certain objects such as jewelry, foods not sealed in packages, cans or bottles, stolen goods and gambling cards are prohibited.

PHOTOGRAPHY/Radhika Kolembekar

Many Asian American family members who have moved away from their native countries send items back home, whether it’s money to help pay for their education and medical bills, or tangible gifts that cannot be acquired in their home countries.

home or country. These companies provide Filipino-run overseas delivery services.

BY Klarizza Aggabao


family stacks old clothes and highquality candy in a box to be shipped abroad. Another family drives to their neighborhood Publix and stands in line at the Western Union with cash in hand.

anymore or clothes we got on sale,” Almanzor said. When Almanzor’s workplace replaced its computers a few years ago, he sent boxes of the old computers to students back in his hometown, Batangas, Philippines.


“They didn’t ask me to send them the computers,” Almanzor said.” I just surprised them that I was going to donate those computers.” According to Almanzor, a box usually costs around 100 dollars. This covers the cost of the box in addition to the shipping and handling from Florida to Manila, Philippines. However, he does not mind the price. “It’s worth it for me because you can put so much in a box, and it’s going to my family,” Almanzor said. Before moving to Florida, Almanzor used to live in Saudi Arabia and Canada. Even then, he would always send gifts and money to relatives in the Philippines. “Everywhere I go, I always think about my family,” Almanzor said. “I always send boxes to them. Since [it is] the culture and traditions of the Filipinos, we will always send something back home.” When he lived in Saudi Arabia, Almanzor noted that Filipinos were not the only people who sent gifts back home. He noted that people from India and Bangladesh did the same as well, Almanzor said. Hyeyoung Yoon is an international student from South Korea at the University of Florida. She is the only one in her immediate family who lives in America. When she moved to the U.S. to attend school, she would buy gifts for her parents and sister whenever she could. “The perception, especially in Korea, of how highly perceived American products are [is] high,” Yoon said. “So my mom would ask for vitamins and medicine, or meat.”

Some examples of objects she would send home include brand name makeup, high-quality clothing, small knick-knacks and meats. However, Yoon does not send money back to her family. “Because I am an international student, I don’t really have the financial means,” Yoon said. “But what I do is send gifts. I save as much money as possible – I don’t ask for monthly allowances. I work two jobs, I pay my rent myself and for groceries, and I save as much as possible. So I think, in that sense, it’s more money to them because I don’t have to spend it.” Sending gifts back to the home country is an older generation thing, Pescador said. She noticed that it would usually be the first-generation immigrants who would send balikbayan boxes and money rather than the younger generation. But even then, she enjoys giving gifts no matter how far the destination or cost of the trip. “To me, my philosophy is this: you are sending your family something,” Pescador said. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s 100 dollars or higher. If it will help them, it will help them. And if it’ll make them happy, that’s even better. I don’t care about the cost as long as it makes them happy.”

DREAM Is this the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an Asian American advocacy organization, wrote in a statement, “DACA is a humane and common-sense policy solution that has a firm legal basis. For the past five years, Advancing Justice has fought for and served thousands of Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, African and other DACA applicants and recipients, and we are appalled by the president’s lack of humanity and compassion.”

BY Samantha Boddupalli PHOTOGRAPHY/Aaron Lacambra DESIGN/Hasin Sharma



arly September 2017, President Trump announced a potential end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program commonly known as DACA, stirring up waves of protest across the nation. Asian American advocates condemned the move.

DACA started under the Obama administra- care, driver’s licenses, social security numbers tion, and it allows people who came to the and credit card applications. Many immigrants United States as children to be subject to de- are brought to the United States, a completely ferred action. This special status granted by unfamiliar country – some as children – where the Department of Homeland Security allows they do not have things like credit cards or a them to apply for a work permit and stay in driver’s license. DACA gave people a chance at the United States, but it can be revoked at any a life here in the United States – it gave people time. In order to be eligible for DACA, a per- hope for a future. son must have been under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012, and have arrived in the United “These are individuals that strive to excel in States prior to his or her 16th birthday. DACA every aspect of their lives, whether it be educaapplicants should not have lawful status, and tion, work or giving back to the community. must currently be in school, graduated or re- These individuals do not harm our country, ceived a certificate of completion from high if anything they add to it, which is why I am school, obtained a GED or are veterans. They urging President Trump and Congress to remust not have been convicted of a felony, consider their position and to let the dreamers significant misdekeep dreaming,” said meanor and not othValentina, a Together erwise pose a threat “THESE ARE INDIVIDUALS THAT We Dream rally atto national security or tendee who requested STRIVE TO EXCEL IN EVERY AS- that her last name be public safety. PECT OF THEIR LIVES, WHETHER omitted, in a text mesIT BE EDUCATION, WORK OR sage. The status, which has to be renewed every GIVING BACK TO THE COMtwo years, costs $465 As of 2016, the MigraMUNITY. THESE INDIVIDUALS per person to obtain tion Policy Institute DO NOT HARM OUR COUNTRY, estimates that apand renew. IF ANYTHING THEY ADD TO IT, proximately 1,932,000 WHICH IS WHY I AM URGING people were eligible Today, the page for DACA on the website PRESIDENT TRUMP AND CON- to apply for DACA, for the Department GRESS TO RECONSIDER THEIR with most potential of Homeland Securecipients coming to POSITION AND TO LET THE rity displays “DACA the U.S. from Mexico, DREAMERS KEEP DREAMING.” Guatemala, Korea, El is Ending” in bright —RALLY ATTENDEE scarlet letters. AdSalvador and the Philvance parole requests, ippines. or permits that would allow people receiving DACA to leave the Undocumented Americans have sought to United States and come back, will no longer be prove that they too, belong in America. Jose approved. Antonio Vargas, a journalist known for creating the autobiographical film, “Documented,” Many of the people that have been protest- who is ineligible for DACA himself, founded ing the end of DACA have been Hispanic, Define American to “shift the conversation but statistics show that a large portion of the about immigrants, citizenship and American DACA-eligible population comes from Asian identity.” The organization recently came out countries as well. with a campaign called #UndocuJoy, which highlights images of undocumented American According to Asian Americans Advancing Jus- happiness to combat media images that victice, “Among the DACA recipients affected by timize undocumented people. today’s action are many Asian immigrants. Between 2012 and 2017, over 16,000 young Asian Most DACA recipients have lived in the Unites immigrants received protection under DACA States for the majority of their lives, because and, of the Asian immigrants who are undocu- regardless of nationality, they hope to build a mented, over 120,000 were eligible for DACA.” life in America. Under DACA, immigrants could do things like obtain temporary work permits, giving them jobs that could offer benefits such as health-

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FRAUD Asian food is profitable for non-Asians


Ken Peng created Ken Eats Gainesville, a food blog that comments on popular local restaurants in Gainesville. Peng grew up around Asian cuisine, and his father owns a Chinese grocery store and food distributions

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“Chinese restaurants will Americanize their cuisine to appease to white consumers and make money,” Peng said.

According to Joe Lin, the manager at Liquid Ginger in Gainesville, pad thai has become very Americanized. For example, the dish uses peanut butter now, which was not always traditional but allows them to sell more to Americans.

Peng said that gentrification may not be the right word to use to describe this popular occurrence. “This has become our own genre, and we can’t really complain about it,” Peng said. “Asian cuisine has moreso evolved due to all the different techniques applied and all the different versions it has. You can’t really chastise people in that they are still paying homage to their roots.” Immigration also plays a huge part in the representation of Asian cuisine. Peng said that immigrants will come to America and make money by selling Chinese takeout, but then go to a more authentic Chinese restaurant for dinner. Peng also said that places such as New York City have more authentic food because immigrants settled there first. The lack of authenticity in Asian cuisine may therefore be our own doing because many Americans are not even aware that there are

Carla Leon, manager of the Vietnamese restaurant Pho Hanoi, said the cuisine is all authentic Vietnamese food. However, the fried rice and pad thai have certain twists to them that the chefs developed themselves. Leon believes that a lot of foods nowadays are being Americanized. However, Pho Hanoi tries to stick to their roots as much as possible


DESIGN/Kathy Xie

From Starbucks’ Chai to the New York Times’ coverage of boba tea, Asian inspired food is starting to become more mainstream. Often, what’s presented as new and different has already been a part of the Asian and Asian American culture for a long time.

two different sides to this story, Peng said.


Asian cuisine is very popular in America today. However, most people are not aware of where these popular items come from and the history behind them. Many people may not be aware of how the authenticity of Asian cuisine has changed since its arrival in America. How Asian cuisine is seen today may not always have been how it was originally meant to be, due to the Americanization and gentrification of the cuisine.

business. According to Peng, the lack of authenticity in Asian cuisine that we may see today is “our own doing.”

BY Christina Shoji

alk down the street of a college town or a big city, and one might find a pho chain, a sushi bar and a boba shop all within walking distance of each other.

because not many restaurants do anymore. Michael Pak, the store manager of Momoyaki, claims his work ethic comes from his Korean family, who also owns multiple businesses. Pak changed Momoyaki’s style from a cafe style to more of a dine-in style. He values the quality of his food the most. Pak states that he has made changes to the cuisine to cater to American consumers. The popular “pink sauce” is actually just shrimp sauce, and many sauces are catered to the taste buds of Americans since they mask the actual authentic tastes of the foods. Pak said the “jjampong” is one of the most authentic dishes on the menu. This spicy noodle soup dish was originally made by Chinese immigrants and based in Japan. Customers in China and Korea would say it tasted original and nothing like they have had before, because the recipe is not altered in any way, Pak said. Pak has visited Korea and China and has tasted jjampong there as well. He has tried his best to replicate this dish in the United States without taking away from its authenticity. Pak also said that they sell kimchi cheese fries,

a modern take on the Korean cuisine, which has become one of the most popular dishes there. “No style is really original, you take ideas and make it better,” Pak said. Rachel Galatowitsch is president of the Chinese American Student Association at the University of Florida. Galatowitsch, who is both Chinese and Cambodian, has experienced both cultures. She has grown up with traditional Chinese dishes such as celery soup, ginger chicken and scrambled eggs and tomatoes, which is her favorite. “Certain things are frustrating because it is not real Asian food,” Galatowitsch said. “Westernization takes away the Asian flavor, or moreso, it is just not the same.” Galatowitsch also said that her mom used to work at an Asian restaurant where they would cook specifically to cater to Americans. “They know it is Americanized, and they know that they are serving American people,” Galatowitsch said. Zachary Sandoval is a UF student whose family is from the Philippines. His favorite tradi-

tional Filipino dishes include traditional noodle dishes, egg rolls, pork and beef dishes, fried rice and roasted pig dishes. His mom would also make traditional chinese dumplings, rice buns and egg drop soups. Chinese takeout doesn’t taste like normal Chinese foods because it is more salty and oily, Sandoval said. Vanna Yang is another Asian American student at UF. Her parents are from Chengdu, China, specifically the Sichuan Province. She enjoys traditional Chinese dishes such as pork and chive dumplings and dan dan noodles. “Orange chicken is not something I’ve ever seen in China,” Yang said. “Kung Pow chicken and chow mein are also very different.” Yang said that authentic Chinese foods may not match the taste buds of Americans. She believes that the majority of typical Chinese cuisine requires more of an acquired taste, since Westernized foods lack complexity and foreign ingredients. Instead, they are more simple and sauce-based, Yang said. Asian cuisine is transforming, as well as how we see Asian culture in general. It is important to acknowledge these Asian roots and pay respect to where it all came from originally.

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Tuning into the Asian American Music Scene

BY Kaylyn Ling

PHOTOGRAPHY/Megan Mizusawa

DESIGN/Amber Siddiqui

An exploration of APIA representation in the contemporary music industry


he popular American music star is glamorous, wild and charismatic. More often than not, they are not Asian. There is an ethnic divide in the American music industry that is burdening minority artists pursuing success. One obstacle that bars the modern Asian American from being accepted in the music business is the model minority myth. This stereotype perpetuates the idea that people of Asian descent are more financially secure, intelligent and advantaged than other ethnicities in America. This stereotype has spread throughout Western society. The model minority myth has impacted the personal life of Cherie Hu, a music journalist published in Forbes and Billboard magazine. “I’ve loved music my whole life, and it’s only recently that I wanted to go into the industry,” Hu said. “And I did get a lot of resistance from my parents, in part because they wanted me to have the most financially stable career.” Deborah Wong, professor at University of California Riverside, said “Don’t demonize Asian parents. Many of these parents are often well aware that it is a racist world out there.”

“For different ethnicities in classical music, I’d say it’s even across the board,” Naughton said. APIAs have a notable presence in classical music but are lacking in many contemporary genres. On today’s charts, there are very few major Asian American pop, rap and EDM artists. Minority performers are funneled into where mass media believes they fit best and where companies can profit most off of them. Nithiya Senthil, a 19-year-old finance major at the University of Florida, said, “One trend I’ve noticed is a lot of artists being pushed into hip hop, at least I think Indian artists, and I don’t know why. I guess it’s easier for [the artists and label] to be profitable in it.”


This “racist world” refers to the ethnic wedge that exists between Asian Americans and other ethnicities in the workplace. The arts and entertainment field, especially, is a point of contention with Asian American representation—Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) musicians, actors and performers are losing out because of discrimination. Not all Asian American parents have let stereotypes direct their expectation, though. Kevin Naughton, a 19-year-old music theory minor at the University of Florida, defended Asian American parenting. “My parents aren’t like that,” he said. “They let me pursue whatever I want.” To say that Asian Americans are completely excluded from the music industry would be inaccurate.

Instead of creating the music that they want to create or experimenting with different genres, some Asian Americans are allowing themselves to be pigeonholed by the industry. It is important to recognize the impact of niche genres of music such as Korean Pop (K-POP), Bollywood and Japanese Pop (J-POP). These musical styles have created entire cultures around their performers that have changed the American music industry.

“People in America, the first thing they think of [with] Indian Bollywood,” Senthil said. “And that’s great, but you can’t make the artist conform to that.” The term “Bollywood” is used to describe the popular genre of Hindi music and film from South Asia. Bollywood music is very rhythmic, lyrical and often performed with large group dance numbers. Over time, many Indian artists have risen to fame in this field, but that has led to the construction of a stereotype of what kind of music South Asians are best at. Senthil also observed the positive influences of foreign music industries: “There’s definitely a lot of pros, like giving exposure… at least having that exposure will help bring more awareness about that culture.”

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Niche genres from around the world are helping to bridge a culture gap by exposing local listeners to foreign music. With the help of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, anyone is able to pull up Ayumi Hamasaki, the adored Tokyo-based “Empress of J-POP,” as easily as they can pull up domestic musicians like Los Angeles based David Choi. In that sense, although niche genres have a history of shaping stereotypes for ethnic performers, they also breach borders and facilitate cultural exposure. As for the reason why Asian Americans are being excluded from contemporary genres, Naughton said that many EDM and pop audiences believe that APIAs have “a lack of stage presence.” Consumers want to watch artists who are comfortable, responsive and fun under the spotlight. However, the model minority myth has given many Americans the impression that Asian Americans are studious and meek by nature, and consequently lacking in charisma and charm. The presence of discrimination in the arts and entertainment industries is so significant that some people feel pressured to hide their own identity. “This is a debate that goes on in Asian American communities and creative communities all the time,” Hu said. “How much do you show your Asianness?” There are plenty of artists and performers that choose to operate in the security of a stage name or anonymity to draw attention to their talents, not their ethnicity. ZHU is one such artist. Steven Zhu, better known by his stage name ZHU, is a Chinese American EDM artist who skyrocketed to fame on the digital music platform Soundcloud. He anonymously published his music for a year and only unveiled himself to the public after a recent Grammy nomination in 2017. “[Zhu] finally did an interview and said that he intentionally hid his identity... because he was afraid that people would judge him based on his looks, even before listening to his music,” Hu said.

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Although these aforementioned barriers exist against Asian Americans trying to rise up in the music industry, change is also occurring. “The music industry is so global now,” Hu said. “You can reach people across the world just as easily as you can reach people in your hometown… there is a parallel between the rise of streaming and the ability for minorities to bypass the traditional [studio label] process.” With the help of streaming platforms, minority musicians are able to publish whatever they want without having to conform to a label’s calendar, expectations or artistic restrictions. Asian Americans in entertainment have thrived on YouTube in particular, as seen by the popularity of violinist Daniel Jang, singer-songwriter Will Jay and singer Sam Tsui. Learning to embrace their cultural differences, Asian American artists have written entire songs about the Asian American experience. For Wong, this embrace of culture has guided her entire career as a performer, music educator and musicologist.

“OVER TIME, I FOUND MYSELF WANTING TO LEARN ABOUT MUSIC THAT ARE AT THE CENTER OF CERTAIN CULTURAL CONVERSATIONS.” —DEBORAH WONG “I explored other kinds [of music], especially Southeast Asian music...I eventually have gone toward [the Japanese musical art form of] Taiko…I went to it explicitly because of its power as an Asian American expressive form,” Wong said. “Over time, I found myself wanting to learn about music that are at the center of certain cultural conversations.” Participating in these cultural conversations is vital to the Asian American cause as artists embrace individual identities, not stereotypes.

THE RADICALS Even though the real reasons behind any war in history are up for discussion, the main concepts of socialist ideas are more clear. According to Joseph Schumpeter, a notable economist and political scientist of the 20th century, socialism is an economic argument against capitalism. As stated in Schumpeter’s work “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy,” socialism aims to establish a society in which economic affairs belong to the public, and not to the private sphere.

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DESIGN/ Simon Fevrier


Wesley, who identifies politically as a Marxist-Leninist, asserted “America has been able to kill hundreds of thousands all across the globe in order to solidify their power for global capitalism.”

PHOTOGRAPHY/Paola Chinchila

Since then, younger generations of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have started to revive the sentiments of communism and socialism on college campuses across the country. With their diverse backgrounds, these APIA students offer unique views on American history and socialism in America.

“We look at the Vietnam War: Millions died for no good reason other than America wanted to assert itself as a global power,” said Wesley*, a third-year political science major from Florida Atlantic University. Wesley, whose father was a Vietnam War refugee, credited first-hand accounts by family members as inspirations for his political ideologies.

BY Jenny Le


t has been over 40 years since the first waves of boat people escaped Communist Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War. Decades have passed since the opposing movements of anti-war and anti-communism were at their heights in the U.S.

Socialism stands in sharp contrast to capitalism, which advocates for private ownership of the means of productions, and a free market system driven by competition. “If we have more homes that are empty than we have homes with people, then something about our economic system isn’t working,” said Tia*, a senior majoring in economics at the University of Florida. “It is not distributing goods and resources effectively.” Tia, who calls himself a Leftist/Democratic Socialist, shared his opinion on capitalism. “To me, a lot of the issues with capitalism are because it is an undemocratic system.” Omar Afzal, a third-year political science and history major at the University of Florida, who acknowledges the ideologies of capitalism, does not believe that the free market is realistically possible. “Right now we have monopoly capitalism - there is no real competition,” said Afzal. “Everything is owned by a couple of stakeholders.” Socialism, a theory that started out as an economic argument against capitalism, has now become an ethical argument in the eyes of many college-aged APIAs. “I think capitalism is unethical because it exploits people,” said Afzal. “It makes people ignorant about the sufferings of people happening all over the world.” Identifying himself an immigrant, Afzal credited his personal background as the motivation to re-examine history and question why

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people are forced to leave their homeland for another country. Wesley, who also believes that capitalism is a driving factor for ethical issues experienced in America today, referred to the Chinese Massacre of 1871 as an example of racism caused by capitalism.


“When Chinese first came over to America during the Gold Rush in California, a lot of us were discriminated against,” said Wesley. “A lot of [this racism] stems from competing for jobs that are scarce because of capitalism.” The tragedy in 1871, which resulted in the death of 18 Chinese, was one of the biggest mass lynchings in the history of the U.S. The event was quickly swept under the rug, but uncovered by the local newspapers of Los Angeles. “I believe that racism, wealth inequality, and this gender gap issue are never going to be solved by capitalism, and it won’t be solved overnight under socialism,” said Wesley. “but in order to be honest, and to take

those first steps to combating racism, combating sexism, combating patriarchy, it must be through socialism.” For many APIA college students, the ideologies of socialism resonate with the ideas of a just society. “Socialism is not just a system based on economic progress, but a system which ensures that the rights of the people, the workers, and the marginalized citizens are protected,” said Afzal. “It is a system which ensures that the inequality gap all over the world is reduced.” According to Tia, the ultimate goal of a socialist economy is to shift the way corporations and businesses are owned in order to pay their workers in a way that is more fair. Afzal, who identifies politically as a Leftist/Radical, gave an explanation for the meaning of the word “radical”: The word “radical” has its origin in the Latin word “radix,” which means “roots.” According to Afzal, someone who goes to the root, understands history and wants to change the system from the ground up is called a “radical.” Unfortunately, the word “radical” is a taboo in the world of Western and American politics. “People are standing up, people are slowly getting educated, and they want change,” said Afzal. “People are having these conversations, and it’s something to look forward to.”

*Full names have been withheld

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FINANCIAL AID KIT The University of Florida may become an ethnic-serving institution

Universities that have a diverse student body can apply to be a higher education institution that has a larger number of students from a specific background that receive federal financial aid. One such example is an Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISIs). These are institutions that provide additional aid for anyone who belongs to those categories. These funds go into programs like mentorships and guid-

to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, is that 25 percent of the population at an institution is Hispanic. At UF, the percentage of Hispanic students is 17.3 percent, which does not qualify UF for HSI or AANAPISI status. However, the chances for the Hispanic designation seem to be improving. In the past five admission years, the Hispanic population has increased by a few hundred each year. In the past year alone, the Hispanic population as compared to the general body rose by 0.02 percent.

To be an AANAPISI, the institution must have a school student body composed of 10 percent of the ethnic group in question, as well as have 50 percent of the population of that group in the institution receive at least one of three federal aid programs: the FedTHE ASIAN AMERICAN eral Pell Grant, Federal COMMUNITY IS GROWSupplemental EducationING AND MOVING al Opportunity Grant FORWARD. I FEEL AS (FSEOG), Federal Work THOUGH THESE OPPORStudy (FWS) or the Federal Perkins Loan. TUNITIES WILL CONTIUE


While the demographics at UF do make such programs unachievable for the institution at this point in time, it is important to educate the public.

UF does not meet this Hernandez entered the THEM.” criteria. Unfortunately, university with no idea —APRIL ZEE its population of Asian that the federal governAmericans is too low to ment could provide more qualify as an AANAPISI. According to Forbes, focused aid for her as a Hispanic American, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Pa- but then again, this is not a well-known fact cific Islanders make up approximately 7.2 per- for many students entering university. cent of the student body at UF, and about 2.5 percent of that group receives the Pell Grant. Instead, support seems to manifest itself in solidarity among minority students to help each On the other hand, the requirement for a school other due to shared experiences. “I think I feel the need to help people who come from a similar background as me, I’m also not wealthy at all, so for me it [helping people] is regardless of race,” Hernandez said. Currently, she relies on federal aid such as the Pell Grant to make higher education affordable for her and her family. With extra federal aid based on the needs of a specific race, she would be allowed to focus more on the quality of her education rather than the cost. However, the university lacks in its support of minority students. Zee seemed to feel that UF did not have enough.

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Higher education’s struggle to provide aid to all of its students can be limited, but the federal government has ways to offer more support for students like Zee and Hernandez. If a university qualifies as an ethnic-serving institution, it can provide more federal financial aid to minority groups on campus. UF could qualify, but the question is: which minority group gets it?

ance for minority students to help them along the way. Once UF meets the criteria to become an ethnicity-serving institution, it must fill out an application and be approved to then begin receiving additional financial aid.

BY Jerry lee


he cost of higher education is priceless, yet it can still be unaffordable for some, particularly minorities. April Zee is a freshman athletic training major of Chinese and Swedish descent. Rosa Hernandez is a third year economics major of Hispanic descent. Both belong to racial/ethnic minority groups that comprise the University of Florida’s student body. Both could also be eligible to receive more financial aid.

Zee said, “Other than the big Asian event [referring to Asian American Student Assembly] that happened at the beginning of the semester where they had a bunch of guest speakers and such, I haven’t really heard much else about other resources or events or etcetera, specifically for Asian students.” Zee suggested that school organizations and programs send out emails, put up flyers and announcements. “Honestly anything to get their name out so that people like me could then look more into it and know that we have this available or us,” Zee said. Mike Greenwald, a sophomore nutritional sciences at UF, agreed with Zee’s sentiments. As a Chinese American officer of UF’s Chinese American Student Association, Greenwald is heavily involved in the Asian community. When asked if he feels an extra inclination to help others of similar ethnic origin, he responded, “when you run into someone that you have similarities with, you automatically start off on a foot where you can connect with, and that opening connection allows and makes it easier to open up.” However, when it comes to the monetary aspect of AANAPISI, Greenwald believes that the aid should be used where the institution needs, rather than focused on a single group. He feels that to focus aid for one ethnicity would be a way of segregation, which, he claimed, “is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve here at UF.” According to data provided from Pell, the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native American student population has been both increasing and decreasing over the years, with a peak of about 4,200 students in 2014, which was significantly larger than the decade low of 3,600 in 2013. With the most recent data of 2016, the APIA population at UF sits at about 4,100 students. If this increase continues, then UF may be well on its way to becoming an AANAPISI in the next few years.


Perhaps the best aid is the bond between individuals and the sense of community. “I believe that UF offers more to us as students than most universities do – not only for Asian Americans, but all minorities. I’ve noticed a great sense of community and pride within the different groups and organizations, and we should fully embrace this,” Zee said. “The Asian American community is growing and moving forward. I feel as though these opportunities will continue to grow if we let them.” Jack Nguyen, director of Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs at UF; Gabe Lara, director of Hispanic Latino Affairs at UF; and other UF experts were asked to comment on this article. They either declined to be interviewed, could not comment, or were not available for an interview as of press time.

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How does learning a tonal language affect development of the musical ear?

BY Jasmine Gabriel


mbedded in the Asian community are a variety of languages, several consisting of a diverse arrangement of pitches that have the ability to alter the meaning of a word.


Tonal languages, such as Cantonese and Vietnamese, are typically more difficult to master, compared to non-tonal languages, due to their tone systems. Traditionally, Cantonese has a nine-tone system, while Vietnamese can have five or six tones, depending on the region.

DESIGN/Danielle Diaz-Boye

While tonal languages are spoken around the world, they are spoken the most in eastern and southeastern Asia, subsaharan Africa, and in several indigenous communities of Mexico. Several researchers believe they have accumulated in these areas specifically because of their relatively wet climates, allowing the residents’ vocal cords the flexibility to generate subtler sounds. In 2013, research from the Baycrest Health Sciences’ Rotman Research Institute in Toronto revealed that individuals who are fluent in tonal languages such as Cantonese, demonstrate more success in understanding the intricacies of music than non-fluent tonal language speakers. These individuals have an improved ability in identifying isolated musical tones more naturally than English speakers can. In the world of neuroscience, this was the first true piece of evidence that tone-language background is associated with higher auditory perceptual performance for music listening. One of the head investigators of this study, Gavin Bidelman, has stated that “music and language – two key domains of human cognition – can influence each other and offer exciting possibilities for devising new approaches to rehabilitation for people with speech and language deficits.” The intersectional relationship between culture and music plays an integral part in the life of Misty Koo, a psychology sophomore and the president of the Chinese

American Student Association at the University of Central Florida. After being raised in China from 3 to 4 years old, Koo came to America only knowing Cantonese. “It was important to my parents that me and my two younger siblings kept speaking in Chinese,” Koo explained. Her parents believed that if she did not speak the language every day, she would lose that part of her culture.

grade. Out of respect for her parents, she decided to continue playing throughout high school and participated in orchestra. While, at many times, Koo felt forced by her parents to study violin growing up, she expressed gratitude towards them for guiding her to one of her passions. Additionally, she has found many ways to integrate her culture into her musical learning by practicing Chinese songs on violin or by singing.

Koo started studying the violin in the fourth

Similarly, the resilience and patience that

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the Chinese culture embodies has also impacted the musical journey of Bryant Lu, a finance sophomore at the University of Central Florida. With Cantonese as his first dialect, Lu was surrounded by family and friends that kept their culture alive growing up, through everyday conversation or small parties with games and singing.

“Cantonese can affect what you hear, how you play something,” Lu stated. Throughout his years of speaking Cantonese and studying music, Lu acquired the abilities to recognize and reproduce the pitch of any given note, a talent he attributes to his trained ear in his native language.

This discovery of the IT WAS IMPORTANT TO MY connection between tonal Lu started playing piano around 6 years old. He has PARENTS THAT ME AND MY languages and music goes competed in several city and TWO YOUNGER SIBLINGS beyond an advantage in state competitions, including musical learning. Researchers KEPT SPEAKING CHINESE.” Knights Got Talent, a large use information on auditory — MISTY KOO perception processes to talent show open to UCF students. He was also invited examine an individual’s to perform at the Vietnamese outlook on life. Bidelman has American Student Association at UCF’s Tết Trung Thu, also stated that “if music and language are so intimately the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. coupled, we may be able to design rehabilitation treatments that use musical training to help individuals In his personal style, Lu strives to create movement with improve speech-related functions that have been his music, through tone and dynamics. He believes it impaired due to age, aphasia or stroke.” is crucial that the songs he chooses to play evoke some form of emotion in his listeners.

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BY Zachariah Chou PHOTOGRAPHY/Zachariah Chou



HOUSE DIVIDED Students and administrators spar over UF cultural houses’ renovation When the renovations of two black and Latinx cultural houses on campuses left students feeling disconnected and wanting more transparency, activists from multiple communities banded together and called for a paradigm shift in how the University of Florida’s administration handled communication and transparency. As work progresses with the houses, the question of one day having a cultural house for Asian Americans resurfaces as well.


No notice was given when construction vehicles tore down the institutes the summer of 2017. Members of the respective communities knew that the day was coming, but no one told them when exactly it would happen. As typical “save the houses” stories go, to have buildings go down would typically have been a watershed moment in the battle. However, in the case of the University of Florida’s cultural houses, the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures (La Casita), the demolition was both part of the plan and also an event underscoring the disconnect between students, staff, alumni and contractors.

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The two houses opened in 1971 and 1994, respectively, and were slated to be torn down and rebuilt due to deteriorating conditions from age, including termites, mold and mildew.

cultural houses in order to maximize space by sharing utilities in a U-shaped building, which they deemed as more cost-effective.

Some of the students on the project advisory “If you went on the balcony at La Casita, it was committee, such as Wilde, felt unrepresented literally slanted … nobody was allowed to go and as if their opinions were being ignored, back there. There were while the greater comWHEN BROWN FACES rats; we had rat traps in munity felt as if they had ARE UNDER ATTACK, WHAT DO WE not been consulted. This the back,” said ChrisDO? STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!” topher Wilde, a microled to an open webinar —STUDENTS AT THE “NO LA biology and cell science session at the end of June, IBCITA” RALLY senior who served as an devolving into a shouting ambassador to La Casita. He currently serves match between students and contractors. on the reconstruction project advisory committee. “There were air and water intrusions Activists from both houses came together and rotting wood in the institutes,” Wilde said. and formed a movement titled No La IBCita in early July. The movement launched a petiMany students and alumni saw the process tion that detailed the history of the IBC, grievwith a sense of bittersweetness, given the his- ances with UF administration and reasoning tory of the buildings and also the realization as to why the two houses should stay separate, that there would be a gap of time when stu- which garnered 1,151 signatures of support by dents would not have a house to go to. the time of this publication.

The bittersweet feelings turned into rage when UF’s Multicultural & Diversity Affairs (MCDA) staff members and the outside contractors presented a plan to combine the two

On July 13, more than a hundred students gathered in Turlington Plaza at UF, to march to the site of the houses. The composition of the crowd was mostly black and Latinx stu-

dents, but included a few white and Asian American individuals as well. “I knew that I wanted to support my friends in any way that I could because I acknowledge my place as an Asian American, a privileged minority,” said Trung Tran, a Vietnamese American fourth-year computer engineering major. “I know that people might listen to what I have to say, and if not, my presence and support is enough.” Tran decided to march after hearing about the history of the houses for the first time and listening to his friends’ qualms about combining the houses. “We received support from the Asian American community during our protest efforts and throughout other aspects of our movement,” said Daniel Clayton, a black fourth-year electrical engineering major and student organizer within No La IBCita. “I personally had quite a few Asian Americans students contact me to find out how they could get involved without stealing the spotlight away from what we were doing.” The day started with students and alumni making signs in the plaza before event organizers announced to the crowd that they would instead march into an advisory committee meeting that was discussing the building plans. While the presence of activists was noted and appreciated, it seemed as if there could have been more widespread support overall. “The lack of APIA students at the march and other events is shameful,” Tran said. “I know that there are individuals within APIA who were there marching, being present and respectful toward the cause. However, as a whole, APIA was absent.” Clayton said that he believes that Asian Americans have to make a solid decision to engage in effective allyship.

rate. While many within the No La IBCita were relieved at the development, they made sure stakeholders were informed about the progress and also of the potential opportunities to voice their opinions. Thus, when the houses came down, it was not a surprise that it happened in the first place, rather that the time of the demolition was not effectively communicated to those who would have liked to be there when the historic buildings were demolished. Members of the No La IBCita movement expressed their discomfort and also renewed their vows to push on in keeping the process of planning the new houses as transparent and accountable as possible.


During the advisory meeting with the protesters, one attendee referenced the numerous fraternity and sorority houses on campus. Given the traditional ethnic composition of fraternities and sororities and the existence of the Institute of Black Culture and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Culture, some individuals considered the idea of having an Asian American Institute to complement the Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs space on campus. “I hope that one day, we do have a house for APIA,” Tran said. “I hope that when we do ask the university for a house, that the two houses will help us fight for a place on campus as well. I think we need to show support for them first though.” Phillip Chang, the interim president of the UF Association of Asian Alumni and past president of UF’s Asian American Student Union, mentioned a past movement for a house on campus starting in 2006 through the Building Dreams Foundation. The foundation advocated for an Institute of Asian and Asian American Culture. It also advocated for a director of Asian American Affairs and a partition in MCDA which have both happened in years since. Chang also expressed a desire to see a genuine movement in having an institute.

“Asian Americans have a degree of privilege that, while it doesn’t erase how they are marginalized in certain spaces and, in contrast to the hegemony, protects them from a lot of the harsher issues that affect other communities,” Clayton said.

“We can’t say ‘we need a house since they have a house.’ We need to be strategic about wants and needs,” Chang said.

Students marched to the Reitz Union at UF, chanting “Mama mama, can’t you see? What UF has done to me,” and also, “When brown faces are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

“I know that I will fight alongside the Asian student community to achieve,” Clayton said. “UF has the space and the means. It’s about taking UF to task, holding them accountable, asserting your right as a student to establish a legacy that others behind you can grow in long after you are gone.”

As soon as the marchers reached the entrance of the building, they quickly quieted down and walked to the advisory meeting room. A UF staff member at the door tried to get the group to only send a handful of representatives into the meeting, citing room limitations, but the marchers ignored the staffer and filled the room as effectively as they could with about 40 individuals. MCDA senior director William Atkins attempted to conclude the meeting as the marchers entered, but the protesters negotiated to continue the meeting. Talks remained civil with many sides presenting their opinions and Atkins leaving with notes on actions MCDA could take to improve transparency and communication. Weeks later, MCDA announced that the two houses would stay sepa-

When the time does come, Clayton seems hopeful about allyship.

UF Multicultural & Diversity Affairs Senior Director William Atkins was contacted for an interview and declined.


Students learn the pros and cons of pursuing lives in foreign countries

Melody Hung graduated from the University of Florida in December 2015 and after visiting Hong Kong after graduating, her mother asked a family friend if he had any job openings. Hung went through several interviews, and after considering the job offer while back in Florida for two weeks, she flew to Hong Kong and started her job. Within a semester of graduating, she had accepted a job and relocated to a country she had previously known as a vacation spot.

“After a year of teaching, the challenge was the feeling over never fully immersing in the culture,” said Nou.

“Hong Kong was always on my mind, but I never thought I would move here so soon,” said Hung. Ian Wong, a Canadian born individual of Chinese descent, found himself working in Hong Kong like Hung. Growing up, he bounced around from Canada, the States, and Hong Kong and ended up in the United Kingdom for university. Wong traveled to Beijing for a job opportunity in magazines and eventually found his way to Hong Kong. While growing up in the U.S., Wong felt a disconnect from his culture. He understood that most of his friends in Hong Kong would be attending university in the U.K., so he followed suit. “I spent half of my life in Hong Kong and the other half in the U.S., but my high school wasn’t as diverse,” Wong said. Wong spent most of his time applying to schools he knew would have a diverse body, hoping to find a connection to his Chinese culture. This desire to connect and find familiarity in faces pushed him to seek a life away from the homogenous and predominantly white areas of the West. Wong now works on his own wine company and YouTube channel focused on film photography with his partner.

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After leaving South Korea, Nou said “it was like a breath of fresh air to be among people like me and who can understand me.” Both Wong and Hung said that not growing up in Hong Kong or China in general presented challenges for them when they moved. Fluency in the language and connection with more traditional ways of life have been the biggest hurdles for both. Because they, along with Nou, were primarily raised in the West, they were not exposed to the local cultures of Hong Kong and South Korea. “I still feel alienated in Cambodia. I’m American and I don’t quite fit in here either,” Nou said. Nou felt like an outsider who could be easily spotted by the locals despite the fact she speaks the local language. Her upbringing in America prevents her from completely immersing in the country her family moved from.

DESIGN/Danielle Diaz-Boye

Hung’s parents immigrated from Hong Kong and frequently visited their home country while living in Florida. This connection with her parents’ homeland and her proud identity of being Cantonese is what helped Hung consider a life outside of the States.

Nou was the only foreigner at her public school and the only coworkers who spoke English were her fellow English teachers. But the communities those coworkers belonged to felt alienating to her, and she decided to not renew her contract.


Working in Asia isn’t always an easy task, however. Somaly Nou, another recent University of Florida graduate, worked in South Korea to teach English. Nou is Cambodian American, and her ethnicity and darker complexion prompted backlash from her coworkers. They made comments along the lines of “don’t go out in the sun too much,” and she felt as if she were being looked down upon.

BY Rikki Ocampos


s North America really the land of opportunities? Ian Wong, Melody Hung, and Somaly Nou seem to think otherwise. They found jobs in Asia relatively soon after graduating. All three were born to Asian immigrants who found Canada and the U.S. to be suitable in raising their children. But after college in the West, they think the grass is greener on the other side.

While working in Beijing, Wong felt slightly out of place due to speaking Cantonese rather than Mandarin, the language more commonly used in Beijing. He sometimes found that his American friends could speak better Mandarin than him. He recalls a time when a waitress spoke directly to him, but he faltered in speaking Mandarin, and a friend interjected. Hung also knows the struggle of language all too well. “Even though my parents are from Hong Kong, I feel I don’t identify with the locals because of the language,” said Hung. She finds it difficult to interact with locals due to how deep their vocabulary can be and the amount of slang they use. Most of the friends in her circles are expats coming

from a wide array of countries but all have English as a common language. Nou’s experience as a Cambodian American in South Korea caused her to feel like an outsider despite identifying as Asian. Now that she’s backpacking in Southeast Asia, she finds herself fitting into the population a little easier. The shared culture and physical appearance allows her to enjoy her time there compared to the months prior, but she says that she’s still not bitter regarding her time in South Korea. In fact, all three believe that the experience of working and residing in their respective countries was very much worth the obstacles and struggles they faced.

Wong says to students considering Asia as a step in their lives after graduation to just go for it. “The opportunities are wonderful here, and you’re only a short flight away from other countries. The experience will be worth it,” said Wong.


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RELATIVE DIFFERENCES Asian Americans discuss their cultural upbringing based on gender BY Hasin Sharma

Tuan Nguyen, a Vietnamese American second-year biology major at the University of Florida, said he believes that he and his sister had fairly equal treatment. “I was as disciplined as my sister was,” Nguyen said. “Until I was old enough to go to highschool, I was monitored more strictly, but my parents were more protective of my sister.”


Zha Xiong is a professor who teaches courses about immigrant and refugee families at the University of Minnesota. Xiong wrote an article entitled “Helping Youth Succeed: Bicultural Parenting for Southeast Asian Families,”which discussed how Asian cultural tradition includes being more protective of girls and stricter with them because not only do they risk shaming the family, but also are known as more difficult for parents to deal with.

DESIGN/Hasin Sharma


ven in an era where new cultural trends are established almost daily, there are inequities in how sons and daughters are raised in Asian American households. Some firstgeneration Asian American parents raise their children in ways that are shaped by the immigrant experience.

According to Xiong, boys in Asian families are considered easier to raise and generally viewed as “lucky” within the family. They were also seen as the “breadwinners” of the family and would face pressure from their families to pursue careers such as being doctors or engineers. Xiong also discussed how, as more generations developed over time, Asian families and primarily those in Southeast Asia have become more lenient because they tend to adapt to Americanstyle parenting. “This differs from the first generations that immigrated to America because these first generation parents would emphasize more traditional and strict methods of parenting to ensure the success and careful maintenance of their reputation in order to properly settle into their new home, and escape the trauma experienced by war,” Xiong said. “People are not monolithic, and that each came with different circumstances.” Xiong states although parents have become more lenient in the way that they raise their sons and daughters, the issue of unfair treatment of their sons and daughters at home is still an issue. Lauren Vu, a third-year psychology major at the University of Florida, expressed appreciation for her treatment at home. “My experience is different, my parents were rather lenient, which was appreciated… I was not set for homemaker. My dad often told me to follow my passions, but my mom was more traditional,” Vu said.

According to Xiong, the Vietnamese group was able to find jobs more easily because they possessed the needed skill sets; the Laos and Cambodian groups generally faced trauma at home, and consequently had issues finding jobs after they immigrated. All groups shared two ideas: the refugee struggle and experience, as well as their belief in a collectivist culture, which is a Confucian-inspired term that emphasizes the group over an individual. In terms of the influence of their parents’ background, i.e., whether they came as part of the refugee generation of the 1960s following the Vietnam and Cambodian wars or the later generations, both students believe that it did not affect how they were raised. Nguyen believes that his dad’s refugee background and strict treatment at home did not affect how he and his sister were treated. Vu, whose parents came to America decades after the Asian Wars, believes that her parents’ backgrounds have impacted the way that they raised her and her brother because of “the fact that they came here very young…and were able to understand both the American and Vietnamese cultures.” There is one significant, yet “quieted” challenge that Asian Americans face: mental health issues. Two things that usually cause mental health issues are parental pressure on children to achieve “successful” lives and societal pressure on Asians to live up to the stereotype of “being intelligent and successful in life.”

According to Xiong’s article, in the past it was always the girls who would face mental health issues because of restrictive parenting. However, girls have been given more opportunities to get an education thanks to a decades-long effort to support and further female education. Therefore, they have become more motivated to be successful. Although this is a stride in the positive direction for Asian American women, they still have to deal with the issues of pressure and gender stereotyping. Vu believes mental health does not only stem from societal pressure, but also from factors such as restrictive parenting, which can lead to a development of psychological trauma due to a lack of emotional expression. She refers to her father’s experience because her father was raised with many boys, and had to hide his emotions because it was believed that men should be stoic and unemotional. “Females are seen as someone as emotional, whereas men are more stoic and less emotional. Whenever my brother showed emotion it was a big deal; when I showed emotion, I was told to ‘deal with it’,” Vu said. According to Nguyen, “[the way parents raise their children] has improved more as girls were treated poorly since they were initially seen as useless. In my generation, the girls/guys have progressed to the idea to how the household does not need a boy to be successful.”

would pressure him and his sister to pursue more well-known, successful career paths. Nguyen believes his treatment at home would not lead to mental health issues, but his sister may be at risk because she was raised with more limits. In terms of whether or not Asian Americans are successful due to pressure, Vu finds it difficult to come to a definite answer. “I go back and forth with this a lot,” Vu said. “A common idea is that the parents come here and sacrifice so much, so we have to pay it back … I was lucky to have a dad who knew what to do, but I knew so many people who didn’t have this.” In comparison, Nguyen believes that the social stereotype of how Asian Americans must work in these career paths to be successful in life does not relate to true success. “[It] won’t change until future generations,” Nguyen said. “Our generation will change our style of parenting.” Although Vu finds it is difficult to come to a clear conclusion, given that every Asian American experience is different, she would like to think that it is.

In Nguyen’s experience, his parents were refugees and were not able to get jobs, so they

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“For me, that was the first time that I had experienced something like that, and it was very eye-opening,” said Bhavika Goyal, former captain of Gator Adaa in 2016, regarding the harassment. “You never really know [what it’s like] until it happens to you.” Although this event happened at UF in 2016, acts of hate and discrimination remain just as prevalent as before. South Asians currently face the greatest increase in hate crimes since 2001, suffering from employment discrimination, harassment and stereotyping. Their places of worship vandalized and attacked, they are forced to adjust to American society in order to succeed within the oppressive landscape of the “land of the free,” sacrificing their culture and voice as a result. Experiences of suppression and ignorance push them further down, muffling their voices and stealing their ability to represent themselves. Despite their demographic totaling to a staggering 4.3 million people within the United States, South Asians are the most underrepresented group within both mass media and society.

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Even so, addressing South Asians under such a broad label generalizes them and misrepresents the large amount of ethnic diversity within the people who identify themselves as South Asian. “Some groups within South Asia are highly marginalized, while others tend to be highly privileged, visible and well-represented,” said Vandana Baweja, an assistant professor of Architecture for the College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP) at UF. Baweja’s perspective contributes to the variety of experiences within the South Asian identity, since not all individuals face the same hardships and challenges. However, it remains irrefutable that in comparison to other ethnic groups, South Asians have received a smaller amount of representation than most.

“SOME GROUPS WITHIN SOUTH ASIA ARE HIGHLY MARGINALIZED, WHILE OTHERS TEND TO BE HIGHLY PRIVILEGED, VISIBLE AND WELLREPRESENTED.” —VANDANA BAWEJA Hate crimes against South Asians have been an issue since the 1980s, when a group known as the Dotbusters targeted Indians in 1987. The group’s name originated from the Bindi traditionally worn on Hindu women’s foreheads. This reflects an inherent prejudice within the group’s ideology against South Asians.

During July 1987, the Dotbusters published a letter within The Jersey Journal stating: “If I’m walking down the street, and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will hit him or her.” They also stated that they would take any means necessary to drive the Indians out of Jersey City. Similar mindsets are present within modern day movements, especially those following 9/11. South Asian, Sikh, Muslim and Arab Americans have been the targets of numerous hate crimes, as well as employment discrimination, bullying, harassment and profiling. Hate crimes include physical violence; however, verbal attacks, such as xenophobic rhetoric and slurs, affect South Asians just as much. These acts of hate impact the emotional wellbeing of South Asians, causing them to feel attacked, pressured and judged. Their voices get lost due to the constant need to protect themselves from these threats and other dangers. Despite these unfortunate instances, not all hope is lost for this marginalized group. There are numerous organizations, such as South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), that actively provide information and resources to assist those affected by stereotypes and discrimination. This organization, as well as ally organizations — the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), to name a few — help represent South Asians as a group united by their shared experience of hate crimes. These groups help to raise awareness by publishing articles about hate crimes

PHOTOGRAPHY/Aaron Lacambra DESIGN/An Vuong

ator Adaa dance team was expecting a normal rehearsal to run through its Bollywood fusion routine, when the group was confronted by two white men. They proceeded to disrupt the dance team’s practice with rude comments and mocking imitations of their dancing, refusing to leave despite their obvious discomfort.

BY Kayla Davidson


Confronting the current wave of discrimination South Asians experience

to inform their audience of the issues faced and the potential solutions to these problems. CAIR’s most recent contribution regarding President Trump’s third Muslim ban, for example, included oral arguments protesting the ban, resulting in U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang siding with CAIR and granting its request to injunct the ban under the pretense of it violating federal law. As noted on its website, CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri agrees that “This case is not a close call… it is clear that Muslim Ban 3.0 illegally stigmatizes Muslims and disfavors Islam.”


These solutions can be found through a greater understanding of the intricacies of South Asian culture and ethnicities that constitute such an expansive group. With Goyal’s personal experience in such a shocking situation, her advice to end South Asian hate crimes is fundamental: “The way we can stop it is by spreading awareness; as in, not enough people know that it actually really exists, and it sucks that people have to find out when it happens to them.” Edification of the masses needs to occur on a larger platform, especially since there are organizations that exist for the awareness of the South Asian community. That being said, the action that needs to occur requires the recruitment of larger, globally-recognized human rights groups and other broad affiliations to facilitate the change necessary to prevent devastating crimes from going unnoticed, as they have for countless years.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. However, these organizations have existed for years, yet South Asian hate crimes have not only persisted but also increased in recent years. For example, information collected by SAALT noted that hate crimes against Muslims have increased by 67 percent since 2014. This information appears to directly contrast with the increasing support from South Asian organizations. However, a large majority of individuals are entirely unaware of the prevalence of South Asian hate crimes, which leads to a disparity in understanding among the general population. This issue is a result of many factors, but one of the most significant ones is a lack of support from law enforcement. Statistics released from the FBI in the Uniform Crime Report and Hate Crime Statistics (2010) state that 6,600 hate crimes were reported in 2010, and approximately 47 percent of those were motivated by race. However, an alternative government study done in 2013 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that only one in three hate crimes is actually reported to law enforcement, given the inherent difficulties regarding the legality of the situation. As SAALT notes, “the current federal law is narrow and applies only in limited situations, such as those involving bodily injury or through the use of a ‘firearm, dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device,’ attempts to cause bodily injury,” leaving for a large amount of crimes that aren’t addressed at a legal level simply because they don’t involve serious physical injury. Since they lack federal representation, South Asians can feel like their voices go unnoticed, much like the presence of hate crimes. Experiences such as the one that Goyal faced happen often at all levels of society, and UF’s campus isn’t immune to this either. These issues greatly affect an individual’s sense of security and confidence as acts of hate can lead to feelings of alienation and can only further expedite the suffocation of this group. Given these alarming statistics and situations, an alternative solution must be uncovered to put an end to hate crimes against South Asians.

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Introverts search for outlets to fit their forms of activism

BY Anusha Makhani and Thalia Su

weaty palms, a racing heart, and concern over what to say next— these are all symptoms introverts may experience when interacting with others. Asian Americans with cultural roots that favor harmony over discord may struggle especially with matching the contemporary image of activism in the United States. Supraja Vinjamur, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida studying health sciences pre-clinical, recalled feelings of suffocation when she was put in social situations that required her to act extroverted.


“As an introvert, there are certain lines or barriers I won’t cross, things I am not comfortable with,” Vinjamur said. “It’s how open I am about myself and to what level.” Asian Americans tend to be linked with introversion or silence, which often has a negative connotation, according to “Asian American Speech, Civic Place, and Future Nondisabled Bodies,” a research paper written by Mel Chen, an associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of California – Berkeley. When it comes to activism, silence is often considered protest’s opposite, a non-language and lack of “voice.”

In addition to the one-on-one approach, Itani prefers to educate people through his writing. He is a contributor to Asia Trend Magazine, which publishes stories on Asian American culture. In the past, he has written about Middle Eastern holidays and food. Meanwhile, Vinjamur practices activism through different organizations, such as Asian Pacific American Coalition, Asian Student Association and Indian Student Association. Within these organizations, Vinjamur feels comfortable enough to express her opinions freely. “APAC supports the Asian American voice in the community,” Vinjamur said. “Through platforms like that, those have been my main ways to channel my activism.” Introverts sometimes face difficulties getting their opinion to be recognized. As stated by Chen, society’s negative view of silence tends to attach to “the cast-out, the feminized, the ‘weak,’ the minority, the abject.” “I do think a lot of good opinions are overlooked just because the peo-

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ple who have them aren’t necessarily very outspoken about them,” Itani said. “I don’t like to be loud.” The persisting attachment of “silence” to Asian Americans relates to racial politics. Of Asian Americans, Chen said, “this broad population continues to be constructed and produced as marginally silent, quiet, invisible, to the point that still today it can become part of one’s perceived phenomenological skin.” Chen also said the silent Asian stereotype contributes to the perpetuation of the model minority myth. Despite all that might be expected of introverts, however, Itani firmly believes he can make a difference in the community with his own brand of quiet activism. “I can contribute to something greater than myself, and this is a very Eastern view,” Itani said. “I draw this from my culture and I am very proud of it. Lots of individual actions will make a collective action, and that is what makes the change of activism.”

DESIGN/Jessica Moore

But activists have other options for engaging in civil discourse. Khaled Itani, a freshman at UCF studying biomedical science, said, “You can have your physical activism, going to protests, but there is also a subtle form of activism [in] what you say in your conversations. What you get across in your one-on-one conversations can sometimes be more impactful than going to rallies.”

university of central florida

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