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VISIONS


It’s not over focusing in marriage mindsets Out of the Bamboo Closet eye of the tiger minor details lost in translation 50 shades the closet weeaboo major decisions

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Dear readers, When I flip through the completed pages of this magazine, it makes me proud to think that just a few months ago, none of this existed. All we had was an idea. In this issue, we wanted to explore how we as Asian Americans view others, how others view us and how we envision ourselves. During the course of this semester, I’ve seen my staff work relentlessly to bring this idea to life. With UCF on board, about 50 staffers contributed their individual pieces to the puzzle, making “Visions” come together. With a publication and staff this size, it’s no surprise we faced a number of challenges while producing this issue, and not all of them could be resolved with all-nighters and homebaked goods. We only had so much control over our circumstances, just like how we only have so much power over our perceptions and other people’s perception of us. External factors beyond our control play into creating these situations and viewpoints, which is why they can be so difficult to change. Visions hover the fine line between reality and possibility. Everything starts with a vision — with conceiving what is possible. From that vision, we can begin to take action and create change. And just like with this issue, that’s how we turn visions into reality.

Patricia Potestades

Editor-in-Chief editor@sparks-mag.com


E-BOARD cresonia hsieh managing editor · rachel lo design editor · david cuellar photography editor · jess bautista promotions director · juan acosta finance director · lawrence chan content editor · joshua agustin assistant finance director · judy zhao promotions director · jinyu shao finance director · crystal quach assistant finance director · stephanie wong programming director · jolie quach programming director

STAFF

ashleigh poole photographer · jennifer luong photographer · gabriella nicholas writer/photographer · ana ramos writer · vincent trang online contributor · tien tran online contributor · paul burns writer · zeff bona designer · xiaoxi zheng photographer · michelle eusebio photographer · bomyee woo designer · vivian tang online contributor · kirsten marie palma online contributor· christina yi online contributor · claire campbell designer · jordan nguyen photographer· karishma kumar online contributor · elena chow designer · rachel fisher designer · anisha dutt writer · emanuel griffin writer · anupa kotipoyina writer · gabrielle calise photographer · linfing yuan online contributor not pictured » lien tracy dang online coordinator · marcus degnan online contributor

UCF

katherine ragamat executive editor · brittany chen managing editor · gabe cortese photography editor · thalia su writer · rikki ocampos writer · celina philip writer · minerva moreno design editor · allison miehl writer · nawshin nazir programming director not pictured » kathleen cruz photographer


IT’S N

A Sikh perspective on

by Anisha Dutt

N

eal Singh remembers Sept. 11 as a day that began like any other. That was until his fifth-grade teacher turned on the TV and news of the catastrophic event began to spread like fire. Unlike his peers, who simply faced uncertainty and fear of a tragic event, Singh also felt the stares and palpable suspicions of his classmates as they viewed the distinctive turban he wore as a member of the Sikh religion. “People who had known me before were giving me stares because they automatically assumed I was associated with these people on the TV doing bad things,” said Singh, now a second-year dental student at the University of Florida. “Hearing the names people would call me, it was surprising and hurtful.” The religion, originating in South Asia, requires its followers to keep unshorn hair tied in a turban -- an appearance often confused and associated with those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to Intelligence Report, there was a 1,600 percent rise in hate crimes based on a perceived anti-Muslim bias immediately after 9/11. These hate crimes ranged from damaging religious institutions to violent attacks on individuals that sometimes ended in murder. Although the number of hate crimes has been reduced in recent years, these incidences still occur annually. In the most recent Uniform Crime Report by the FBI done in 2012, almost 19 percent of the hate crimes committed were based on religion, and nearly 13 percent of those crimes had an anti-Islamic basis.

6 • VISIONS

While these numbers may seem small,


NOT OVER

n racism post-9/11

the Southern Poverty Law Center states that many of these reports often show a smaller statistic than the accurate number due to underreporting by victims and limited participation by police agencies. Hate crimes are not the only way these communities have faced discrimination in America. Bullying is an all-too-common occurrence in schools across the country. A report by the Sikh Coalition showed that nearly 70 percent of Sikh children who display their faith through their turbans and other means were harassed in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“9/11 was the huge watershed,” said Terje Ostebo, acting director for the Center for Islamic Studies at UF. “Americans began to equate Islam with what they saw on their TV screens.” Resolving this discrimination will take the efforts of many people and organizations, and Ostebo sees educational institutions as the frontline to teach people. “It’s a fact that educated people have a

“Some people internalize (the negativity), but it was a motivating factor,” he said. He makes it a point to take on a lot of visible leadership roles in the community and to keep a positive attitude with others. He encourages others to do the same by volunteering at soup kitchens and taking public roles in society. “(To) any minority that has faced discrimination in this country, be visible in the community, show that you are doing good things,” he said.

“People... automatically assumed I was associated with these people on the TV doing bad things.”

Another study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations showed that nearly 50 percent of students experienced bullying due to their religion in the state of California. And these incidences only showcase a portion of bullying incidences occurring across the country.

Singh remembers his classmates calling him names such as “golf-ball head” and “towel head” behind his back. Despite the acts of discrimination he faced, he says that his ordeal was much easier than others around the country. “I know people in the New York and San Francisco areas that have faced worse bullying,” he said. “I grew up in a relatively good area.” The report by the Sikh Coalition cited incidences in New York City schools where Sikh children were harassed and threatened by other students, who even threatened to cut the Sikh children’s hair off. The report also cited similar incidences of physical attacks, such as pulling girls’ hijabs, against Muslim students in California.

more informed view of society,” he said. The effort to inform society has become evident in organizations throughout the United States, like with UF’s Center of Islamic Studies, which opened in September. “We, as academics, are finding a far more complicated picture,” he said. “We are here to try to be as objective as possible,” he said. For Singh, experiencing discrimination and ignorance in middle school has changed how he interacts with the world today. “It really made me more motivated to get the word out about the Sikh community” he said. Singh is the former president of the Sikh Student Association at UF and is now the National Youth Director of the National Sikh Campaign.

Through Singh’s involvement in the community, he said he’s been able to teach others about Sikhism, and inform them that Sikh values are American values. “People see me doing things in the community and they come up to me to ask questions. It’s a good way to start.” Although initial tensions from 9/11 have slowly improved since 2001, data shows numerous acts of hate are still occurring throughout the country and many South Asian, Sikh, and Muslim children face rampant bullying in school. The issue has left many in fear for their lives whenever they leave their homes or go to new places. For others, it leaves them alone and isolated from their peers. “We need to open up to people and show what we can do in the community,” Singh said. “We live in such a diverse country, but discrimination is still our battle.”

VISIONS • 7


FOCUSING IN A look at the changing media landscape by Gabriella Nicholas

A

sian American representation in media has often been stymied by the “bamboo-ceiling,” a term coined by Jane Hyun in her book “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians,” to describe the challenges faced by Asian Americans inside a diverse array of social organizations. To this day, a majority of Asian media representations revolve around what YouTuber Freddie Wong referred to as the stereotypes of “math star and KungFu star.” Jackie Chan in the “Rush Hour” movies, Lucy Liu in “Kill Bill” and Kunal Nayyar’s character Rajiv in “The Big Bang Theory” all play into the Asian stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media.

8 • VISIONS

But nowadays, more are turning to alternative media outlets like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube for their entertainment, and with the rise of outlets that host usergenerated content, Asian Americans are seeing greater representation.

“I feel YouTube has really created an environment where independent artists can freely express themselves...” Ryan Higa, Kevin Wu and Wong Fu Productions are a few of the most prominent Asian American personalities on the YouTube.

With their increasing visibility in pop culture, original stigmas surrounding members of the Asian community are slowly disappearing as YouTubers begin to change the definition of “mainstream.” Chris Abeleda, a University of Florida junior studying psychology and theatre, started recording YouTube videos in the 10th grade when a family friend lent him some equipment. Abeleda, whose channel is called ChrisAbeledaMusic, said much of his musical influence comes from current Asian YouTube stars. “I feel YouTube has really created an environment where independent artists can freely express themselves, and they don’t have to worry about having a certain look or sound,” Abeleda said. “I think


the advancements made in the Asian American community in mainstream culture is really attributed to all of those YouTube artists who consistently persisted and pursued their passions by continuously putting themselves out there.” Despite the fact that 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and 80 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S., Ryan Higa is the only top 10 YouTuber of Asian descent. This brings us to a similar problem: the lack of Asians on the big screen and behind the scenes in the production process.

East Asian culture. Despite the story’s background, Noah Ringer, a young white actor from Dallas plays the main character. Asian Americans aren’t the first minority group to face challenges of media representation. African Americans experienced a similar struggle with blackface and other racist portrayals on their culture. In The Birth of a Nation (1915), white actors in blackface portrayed African American men as ignorant and violent in their interactions with whites. But in the early 1940s, there was a slight emergence of black actors who did not play on standard stereotypes.

One day, seeing an Asian American playing the main character of a popular television series or movie would be pretty normal.

Until Asian Americans have a stronger representation in Hollywood, the efforts made by YouTube stars may seem modest when trying to alter the current image of Asian Americans.

As a result, as films began to favor realism instead of caricatures, and the polarization of cultures between the black community and the white community began to lessen.

Today, it is common to see African Americans like Denzel Washington, Will Smith or Kerry Washington in a leading role. The Asian American community is in the process of a similar movement.

In recent years, many Asian roles have been replaced by white actors. For example, “Dragon Ball: Evolution,” “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” and “The Last Airbender” are all films in which the casting veered from the movie’s Asian theme.

“One day, seeing an Asian American playing the main character of a popular television series or a movie would be pretty much normal,” said Minhdi Van, an exploratory freshman at the University of Florida. “We are progressively seeing more diverse races in the media with large roles.”

“The Last Airbender,” based on a Nickelodeon series, is loosely based on

Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Sandra Oh and Osric Chau are celebrities who have

4

% of all television and theatrical roles were portrayed by Asian Pacific Islanders

3

% of characters in the top grossing films of 2013 were female

accepted roles that veer from original Asian caricatures. “It’s nice to see someone like me on TV,” Van said. “Asian Americans are becoming more and more wanted.” Lilly Singh, an Indo Canadian YouTuber known by her followers as “Superwoman,” is famous for her comedy skits that relate to young teenage girls regardless of their skin color. “I think (social media) should give a different view of racial tolerance,” said Ali Yusufali, a microbiology senior at the University of Florida. “YouTubers are an entertaining way to break down walls.” The content in Singh’s videos often transcend matters of race. In one of her videos titled, “Emotions I Go Through When I See My Crush Online,” Singh acts out a scene that is all-too-familiar for younger generations. Because the feelings aren’t exclusive to Indian girls, her videos help to relate one racial group to the next through shared emotions. “I think, slowly but surely, our generation and generations to come will have a greater respect for race,” Van said. This is a new generation of Asian Americans -- one brought up in a household of tradition but shaped by modern American society. “I don’t think the industry itself is changing, but I feel that the nature of the game has begun to transform,” Abeleda said. “I’d say that, as a culture, we are making great strides in earning more respect amongst the general community.”

87

% or more of Asian Americans use the Internet everyday VISIONS • 9


10 • VISIONS

M

ARRIAGE INDSETS

SAVE THE DATE

or


r

by Anupa Kotipoyina

W

hile practicing vocabulary related to dating and relationships in her Chinese class, Anugraha James, a third-year international studies student at the University of Florida, was abruptly asked if she was going to have an arranged marriage. “Possibly,” she said. Her response left the room in an uncomfortable silence. Though the topic ended there, James felt that, underneath that quiet, her classmates were wondering, “We’re in 2014, and people are still having arranged marriages?” While James’ classmates were probably imagining that one day her parents would bring a random stranger for her to marry, what James meant with her answer is that while she can date, she’s not opposed to the idea of someday involving her parents as a means of meeting potential spouses. Rubab Islam, a UF sophomore studying microbiology, said she feels the same way as James in regards to being open to family involvement. When asked, she usually prefers to tell people she is not going to have an arranged marriage because she thinks the words “arranged marriage” carry negative connotations and those who ask probably have a very fixed and narrow view about what it is. Even people of South Asian heritage are sometimes surprised by her parents’ lack of restrictions, Islam said. She’s heard “What do you mean you can date?” many times before.

PICK YOUR MATE

For millions of people around the world, arranged marriage is not a relic of the past but a present reality. According to UNICEF, in 2012, 55 percent of marriages in the world were arranged. Many of these marriages take place in Asian countries such as India (where

UNICEF estimates that 90 percent of marriages are arranged), Pakistan, Bangladesh, rural China and parts of Japan. In some cultures, arranged marriage is not only prevalent, but a deeply rooted tradition. Like other traditions, arranged marriage has evolved over time and faces its fair share of misconceptions. Though their views are similar, James and Islam’s different answers to the same question reflects problems in defining where arranged marriages end and love marriages begin. The words “arranged marriage” can refer to a whole spectrum of marriages with varying degrees of individual choice, family pressure and time spent together before the wedding. This umbrella term is commonly used to cover both the marriage of two complete strangers and the more modern versions that include a courtship or that are simply facilitated by parents, the latter of which are increasingly common among growing urban populations. Prejudice toward arranged marriage does not have foundations, as no two-word label can tell the whole story behind something as diverse and personal as marriage. A survey of American married couples on how they met might include responses ranging from childhood sweethearts to people who connected using the app Tinder. James said she does not understand why arranged marriages, both traditional and modern, are a big deal, as she has seen both work for many people. Her parents, who shared just a few conversations before getting married, have created the perfect example of the kind of marriage she wants. Her extended family also has many examples of joyful unions that have lasted, and they too were not initially based on love.

VISIONS • 11


In her experience, love is certainly a part of arranged marriages, Islam said. The difference is couples grow into love rather than start there. But the main reason James said she is comfortable with arranged marriage is not the strength of her parents’ relationship, but rather the strength of her relationship with her parents. She describes her family as open, caring and accepting. She considers her mom her best friend. “They know exactly what I want, and at the end of the day, that’s what they want too,” James said. “If I didn’t have the freedom to share my thoughts, there is no way I would let them look for someone for me.” Islam also describes her relationship with her family as one with open communication. In fact, she thinks arranged marriages can provide “a more solid foundation because the family is involved.” She has a high regard for her

12 • VISIONS

parents’ judgment, and if she were to meet someone on her own, her parents’ approval of him would be essential. James’ description of the way her parents might go about finding someone is quite simple: her parents would mention to a friend or acquaintance that they have a daughter, describe her interests, goals and personality, and ask them if they know anyone who could be a good match. James said it isn’t that different from the way someone might set up a friend, yet you never hear anyone say that their friend “arranged” their marriage. Islam said that in most families, there is no element of force. Parents might have hopes and ideas, but their attitude is “Let’s have these kids meet and see what happens.” Just as online dating sites have increased opportunities to make connections, James thinks of family involvement as a useful resource. Her father is a pastor who knows many families with similar values. Islam

similarly describes it as “just another way to meet people.” “When parents and children both get to be involved in the process, everyone’s going to end up happy,” James said. Given American culture’s emphasis on individualism, to involve and consult the opinions and wishes of family may seem like giving in or settling to some, but both James and Islam disagree. To them, parental involvement is just another route to the same destination, and one that could reasonably be preferred for its success rate, support and utility. Whatever perception of arranged marriage her peers have, James said she won’t let an unfair stigma change her answer the next time she will inevitably be asked the same question. “It’s a part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed,” she said.


OUT OF THE BAMBOO CLOSET The gaysian perspective by Emanuel Griffin

LGBTQ Asian Americans.

omaly Nou watched flags of every color sail through the sky during the annual Gainesville Pride parade. As a former ambassador for the LGBTQ section for the Multicultural Cultural and Diversity Affairs at the University of Florida, watching the flags is a tradition that the Cambodian American senior has maintained every year of her college career.

In 2007, Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen disowned his daughter after she came out with her own lesbian sexuality. Sen severed all ties with his daughter. He wrote her out of his will after she married her partner.

S

Though the flags are part of a platform for activists to speak on LGBTQ issues, the diversity of flags at the parade fails to reflect Nou’s own struggles as an Asian American lesbian. “Asian Americans are not very visible in the LGBT community,” Nou said. “I think a big reason for that is that Asian Americans are afraid to come out because they’re not sure if their family would accept them.” Nou, who identifies as a lesbian, spends her time lobbying for a multitude of LGBTQ causes at the state level in Tallahassee. She has spoken to government officials about the struggles of the LGBTQ community and has acted as a spokesperson for her community on numerous occasions. Despite being such an active advocate for the LGBTQ community, Nou still does not feel comfortable coming out to those who are closest to her: her parents. “I know they would either disown me or pretend that it doesn’t exist,” she said. Though the idea is never far from her thoughts, Nou has decided not to come out to her parents until she wants to get married. The fear of being ostracized or isolated from their families is a reality for many

14 • VISIONS

Yurvraaj Parashar, cast member of the 2010 Bollywood film “Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyun” (Don’t Know Why) was also disowned by his parents for portraying a homosexual character in the film. Many Asian Americans fear similar

“I know they would either disown me or pretend that it doesn’t exist.” consequences should they ever come out of the closet to their parents. Although she may not have known how to address her sexuality, Nou never felt uncomfortable about her own feelings. She had never seen a homosexual couple during her childhood in Cambodia. Nou was unaware there was even a term for her romantic attraction to girls. “In the Asian culture,” Nou said, “we don’t talk about homosexuality. I didn’t even know there was a name for it.” Nou was 7 years old when she first realized that she was attracted to females, but she thought nothing of it. As a child, she remembers seeing transgender people in Cambodia being widely accepted, but she did not identify with the transgender community.

It wasn’t until Nou came to America later that she realized exactly what homosexuality was and how it was a part of her identity. She knew her family would never be comfortable even addressing her sexuality, and to this day, she has never been able to have an open and honest discussion about it with her parents. “The difference between being white and queer and being Asian and queer are the different cultural values and your family’s expectations.” Nou said. “My parents don’t even allow me to date men yet. I can’t even imagine telling them I’m gay. I know they’d be disappointed.” Many Asian American immigrants come to America in the hopes of providing their children with a better life and the opportunity to live the American Dream. Recent studies by Pew Research Center reveals that majority of Asian immigrants come to America for “an opportunity to get ahead” and “better conditions for raising their children.” Components of the American Dream include a comfortable amount of income, owning a house, being married and having children. People tend to view the last two to be in opposition with homosexuality and because of this, the immigrant parent’s vision for their child is shattered. “Being Asian and being queer is very conflicting,” Nou said. “How are you going to be open with your sexual identity when the Asian culture is reserved and doesn’t allow you to express yourself ?” The question of LGBTQ rights in Asia tends to be uniform from country to country. Some governments appear apathetic to even addressing the issue, while the majority of Asian countries


don’t recognize same-sex partnership. Despite the legality of same-sex marriage being homogenous, the views on the LGBTQ community in Asia are quite diverse. In Malaysia, same-sex sexual activity is illegal and actively penalized. Countries like Vietnam have laws where there is no form of recognition of samesex couples, but no punishment for engaging in same-sex activity. “Even though same-sex marriage is at the forefront of gay rights in America, there are a lot of issues that are not being addressed,” Nou said. The LGBTQ movement is not only lobbying for marriage equality, but equality in adoption and the workplace. Throughout the United States, laws vary from county to county regarding LGBTQ rights. Though same-sex marriage is recognized by the Federal Government, only 28 states offer marriage licenses to samesex couples. There is also an absence

16 • VISIONS

of discrimination protection throughout the United States.

laws

“You can be fired for being gay. You can be evicted from your home for being queer. It makes it harder to be open.” Nou said. Nou said she believes this only adds to the pressure for Asian Americans to stay closeted and not take an active part in the LGBTQ movement. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, Asian Americans make up 26 percent of the LGBTQ community. Despite this fact, Asian Americans still lack visibility in the community. In recent times, activists like George Takei have attempted to bridge the gap between the Asian American community and the LGBTQ community. Takei recently spoke at the University of Florida about the intersecting of his sexual and ethnic identities. Takei is an activist for the LGBTQ community and encourages more Asian American leadership in the community.

Additional efforts have also been made by students. Recent UF graduate Andrew Sun founded the Queer Asians and Pacific Islanders organization at UF to give Asian Americans a voice in the LGBTQ community and allow for them to share their experiences with people of similar backgrounds. This organization provided an accepting and comfortable group forum for LGBTQ Asian Americans. Whether the recent actions and words can change the minds and customs of the many remains to be seen, as many others like Nou still feel the need to hide their identity from their families. “It’s really important for queer Asian people to be more visible in the LGBTQ community because our background and our experiences are different.” Nou said. “It would also benefit the LGBTQ community to be more inclusive of other backgrounds and cultures.”


Eye of the Tiger Envisioning the ideal parent by Celina Philip

S

trict parenting is a common stereotype associated with Asian parents. Though this generalization tends to apply more to first-generation Americans, it’s still commonly assumed that most Asian parents are strict. A tiger mother, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is “a strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to high levels of achievement, using methods regarded as typical of child-rearing in China and other parts of East Asia.” Many Westerners critique the way Asian parents raise their children.

Developmental Psychologist, tiger parenting “includes high levels of negative parenting (e.g., strict rules) and high levels of positive parenting (e.g., warmth and support).” One of the most prominent advocates of this tiger parenting style is Amy Chua, author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Chua received backlash for her book because many people disagreed with how stern she was with her children. They were not allowed to have play dates,

more often, “Because I said so.” Ceniza said this made her feel trapped. “I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anyone because I got yelled at constantly,” Ceniza said. As a result, she kept her feelings to herself. Though Ceniza said she believes that her mother’s parenting hurt her more than it helped, she is scared that she might end up like her mother. She plans on using her past as a learning experience to parent her own family in the future.

“These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children.”

Westerners tend to use an authoritative approach, in which they set up rules that they expect to be followed, but are forgiving and willing to talk with their children instead of using replies such as “Because I said so.”

Asian parents tend to use an authoritarian approach, in which they establish strict rules that must be followed. Otherwise, punishment can be expected. “These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children,” said Kendra Cherry, a former psychological rehabilitation specialist. According to a featured article in the

participate in a school play, watch TV or play computer games. Sabrina Ceniza, an 18-year-old medical laboratory sciences freshman at the University of North Florida, shared her experiences dealing with her own tiger mother. Her mom would only allow her to go out once every three months, complain about how she was never home and criticize her weight. The reasoning could be summed up in to two responses: “Because I love you,” but

“I think I’ll be on better terms,” Ceniza said about her future.

But not all Asian parents are like Ceniza’s. Many Asian parents understand the need for free time and adopt a more authoritative parenting style. Alyson Nguyen, a freshman majoring in art at the University of Central Florida has parents who exemplify an authoritative parenting style. Though they were originally strict with Nguyen’s older brother, Nguyen’s mother, Kim Luu, was less strict with Nguyen “We only have so long to live,” Luu said. “We don’t need to live so seriously all the time.”

VISIONS • 17


MINOR DETAILS

A glimpse at the state of the Asian American studies minor at UF by Ana Ramos

W

hen Amy Cheng first learned about the recently approved Asian American Studies minor during her first year in college, she was excited about the idea of taking classes to learn more about her background and becoming more involved in the Asian American community. Cheng, a second year linguistics major at the University of Florida, expected a thriving environment with open spaces for education about the histories and racial identities of Asian Americans. What she got instead was a bare offering of courses within the realm of Asian American Studies.

the overarching vision,” wrote Michael Satyapor, former AASU president, in an email. In the early 2000s, AASU articulated a series of actions to promote Asian American culture and history. Their efforts culminated in the creation of the Asian Pacific Islander Affairs office, the implementation of an Asian American

and to make the case for why these things mattered,” Satyapor said. To get the minor approved, students worked closely with the APIA staff, the UF Student Government and Dr. Malini Johar Schueller, a professor at the Department of English. Faculty been teaching Asian American Studies courses since the creation of the Asian American Studies Certificate back in 2004. Schueller gathered support from professors and wrote the proposal for the minor. As a result, more courses were later added as electives to support the minor.

“The minor was never intended to be the end goal...”

Since its creation, the Asian American Student Union has strived to promote the minor and work toward creating a major, but a lack of full-time faculty and classes has slowed the process down. “The minor was never intended to be the end goal but rather something that would take us another step forward in

18 • VISIONS

Certificate in 2004 and the opportunity for the next generation to work on the approval of a minor. “During my tenure as president from 2011 to 2012, I believed that the president’s role was to pick up the torch of those from the era that ended in 2006, to gain support from students and staff,

Student Government urged the administration for the approval of the proposal, where among other things, they created a written resolution to facilitate the approval of the minor. In 2012, the result of more than 10 years of hard work paid off, and UF became the only southeastern state university to offer


the Asian American Studies minor. Since its approval, raising the quality of the Asian American Studies minor is a challenge that has been taken up by many, but it requires the joint efforts of students, staff and faculty for the vision to come through. This semester, only one class is being offered for the minor: Asian American Studies Literature and Culture, which is taught by Schueller. In previous semesters, when more than one Asian American Studies course was offered, not all of them filled up, which discouraged some of the faculty. It showed them that students were uninterested, so now, only one course is being offered each semester, said Stephanie Wong, current AASU president. In the minor’s current state, students don’t have a choice of classes. Instead, if students want to work toward the minor,

they’re forced to take the only class available or wait until the next semester for a chance to take another course. This creates an unfavorable situation for students, making it difficult to register for the classes they may want to take, especially if the one class offered doesn’t fit with the rest of their schedules. Since her first year in college, Wong has been involved in the process, and she has seen the efforts of previous leaders and the growth of the community. “Now it is time for our school to reflect that,” Wong said. AASU is trying to gather more student interest for the minor. Abiding by the laws of supply and demand, the rise in the demand for classes will eventually convince faculty and the university’s administration to provide more options, Wong said.

While administration has not hired professors to teach courses for the minor, Wong said she feels confident that once AASU has the numbers to show administration the students’ interest, new professors will be hired. According to Schueller and Wong, the funding for the program and new professors would ideally come from outside the university, making the process more sustainable. “I told the students, ‘Find an old Asian American with a bunch of money. Make him or her donate 3 million dollars to the university,’” Schueller said. The hypothetical 3 million dollars could be deposited into a bank account and the interest alone could pay for new faculty. “If (the minor) were lost, it would be huge setback,” Satyapor said. “As tough as it was to get the minor, it would be preferable for us to have waited longer if there was

VISIONS • 19


not a clear, sustainable longterm strategy.” In the future, the AASU hopes to gain more monetary support from the Association of Asian Alumni, which was recognized in 2011. As a period of transition between getting the minor approved and organizing future action towards a major, AASU is encouraging students to become more involved by taking classes in the minor. Wong’s team is now looking into classes that would fit the minor’s criteria and contacting professors to incorporate their classes into the existing curriculum as an elective.

As an interdisciplinary field of study, Asian American Studies electives fit a wide range of academic departments. Anything involving Asians in the United States is part of the field’s interests. “To show UF what we are capable of, we need the demand to make it grow,” Wong said. “With no demand, they can get rid of it.” This year, Wong and AASU are doing exactly that, researching ways to create a sustainable long-term strategy, so in future years, the incoming students will know the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. “It’s something we are really

proud of, but we shouldn’t be content, we should continue to grow and progress with the minor as a community,” Wong said. “I want students to appreciate the accomplishments we have made and know we have opportunities others don’t. We also need to continue to honor the legacy of the ones who worked and came before us.”

American history and activism will inspire students and help them to better understand themselves.

“With no demand, they can get rid of it.”

As a student taking the minor, Cheng expressed that the community needs to do better, move forward and not remain content with what they have now. She believes the knowledge of Asian

“We need to educate ourselves because then we’ll know when to stand up for ourselves,” Cheng said.

Classes for the Asian American Studies Minor AML 3673

Introduction to Asian American Literature and Culture

3 credits

AML 3673

Asian American and African American Interactions

3 credits

ENG 4133

Martial Arts Cinema

3 credits

ENG 4130

Asian American Cinema

3 credits

POS 4931

Asian American Politics

3 credits

WST 3930

Women of Color in the US: Asian American Women

3 credits

REL 4936

American Buddhism

3 credits

REL 3120

Religion and the American Immigrant Experience: Hindu Traditions in America

3 credits

20 • VISIONS


IMMIGRATION THROUGH THE AGES india

Indian immigration to the United States has history dating as far back as 1790. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the highest growth rates of the Indian population in the US have been in just the past few decades. The Indian population grew by 38 percent between 2000 and 2005. The reasons behind this surge in immigration appear to be spurred by educational opportunities and increasing demand for skilled professionals in the areas of information technology, engineering, and other sciences. According to the Institute of International Education,

vietnam According to the Migration Policy Institute, Vietnamese immigrants moved to the United States in three waves. These waves appear to be largely spurred by the consequences of the Vietnam War The first wave consisted of professionals and those in the military after the fall of Saigon in 1975 ended the Vietnam War. Many of the first wave immigrants were refugees forced out of their country out of fear of North Vietnamese forces. The second wave was mostly rural refugees who arrived in the late ‘70s also

India was the second largest country of origin for international students. Srinivas Manikonda, an engineer who came to the U.S. in 1991 to pursue a master’s degree, says “access to higher education is a lot easier in the U.S., and there is greater exposure to research and development in schools and in the field.” He also cites the rapid growth of the technology sector in the United States and the opportunities it created as the big pull factor for his generation of graduates.

escaping the aftermath of the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, another wave of immigrants arrived. Most of which were made up of the children of Vietnamese mothers and U.S. servicemen. Mai Ha immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1993. Before coming to America, Ha worked went to school and worked at a Post Office in Vietnam. She says she moved to America to find work and to raise her family. She has been living in America for the past 21 years.

Philippines It’s December of 1973 in the Philippines and Regina Dimarucot is working the closing shift at a popular bar in Olongapo City. This bar’s clientele is primarily composed of sailors of the United States Navy stationed in Subic Bay. Dimarucot’s command of English and her inviting personality offered her a steady income based off tips during her tenure as a waitress. As the last patrons place their order, one customer calls Regina over to his table. He is Petty Officer, 2nd Class Michael Moran who was celebrating his two year anniversary of moving to Subic Bay. Regina comes to the table expecting a tip but instead Moran asks her on a date. She is flattered, but ultimately

declines his offer. A persistent man, Moran continues to visit the bar occasionally over the course of the next three months and eventually convinces her to go on a date with him. After almost a year of dating, wedding bells are ringing at the bar where they first met. Shortly after marrying Regina, Michael received orders to relocate to San Diego, and he brings his new wife with him. Regina began the lengthy process of becoming a United States citizen. After taking a number of tests and filling out a seemingly infinite amount of paperwork Regina became a citizen in February of 1982.

VISIONS • 21


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翻 i 訳 n 中 t r に a n 失 s l a っ t i た o n

Seeing how language impacts meaning

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SHADES 50 Looking a shade beyond skin color

by Rikki Ocampos

Women in Asia go to great lengths to achieve fair skin. And for good reason. Sometimes skin tone alone can determine a person’s value in society. The use of social discrimination based on skin tone is called colorism. While related to racism, colorism is distinct because it concerns actual skin tone rather than any racial or ethnic identity. Asian parents have been known to push their kids to maintain fair skin and to not tan, said Amber Vickram, a sophomore graphic design major at the University of Central Florida. Vickram’s parents would incessantly remind her of the time when she was “nice and light.” According to ColorQ World, fair skin could mean an individual had European ancestry or was of a higher economic status. Fair skin indicated a life spent away from the toils of peasant work. By looking the part of nobility, a woman’s prospect of marrying a man of high status increased, which could lead to an escape of a life struggling to make ends meet. In a 2007 study by Mills College, lightskinned people of color enjoy more privileges than darker-skinned people of the same race. They typically earn more money, complete more years of schooling and live in better neighborhoods. Many Asian celebrities endorse skin whitening and tan-preventing products including: bleaching creams, long gloves, parasols and even ski masks.

24 • VISIONS

According to a 2010 Nielsen report, skin whitening cream market was worth more than $432 million in India alone.

The pressure to have light skin starts at home and continues through the media Vickram said. Many popular shows in Asia like Filipino drama “Be Careful with My Heart,” South Korean drama “My Love from the Star” and Taiwanese drama “Autumn’s Concerto” depict the main light-skinned characters. Minor characters, such as workers and servants, are typically depicted as dark-skinned. These portrayals subtly reinforces the idea that a darker skin tone means the person is less important. While colorism can be prevalent in Asian society, Western societies have also experienced an enforcement of the light skin ideal. Celebrities such as M.I.A., Mindy Kaling, Beyoncé and Lupita N’yongo have been edited to appear lighter on magazines and in photo shoots. Though the trend is slowly dying, this type of whitewashing has a damaging effect on the subconscious of many TV viewers. The repeated act of bleaching the skin reinforces the imperialistic idea that fairer skin is beautiful and more desired than darker skin. However, some Asian Americans find no interest in lightening their skin color. “My grandmother has tried all sorts of creams to keep her skin fair, but my parents don’t,” Vickram said. “I love to encourage people to embrace their natural skin color.” Karen Bui, a freshman statistics major at UCF, also shares this attitude.

“No skin color is better than another,” Bui said. Having never used any products, Bui said prefers fairer skin but emphasizes that wanting a specific skin tone does not mean she embraces the idea that it is better than another in the value of someone. “I feel like the fair skin tone fits me better, but that’s just me,” she said. The idea that lighter skin is more valuable is found across Asian cultures and even worldwide in continents like South America and Africa, but it is not an interracial issue. Even within specific cultures of the Philippines, China, India, Mexico and Peru, people with lighter skin are often viewed as more attractive than those with darker skin, Karen said. Placing emphasis on something as arbitrary as the amount of melanin in a person’s skin has harmful psychological effects on both sides, according to “Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino- American Postcolonial Psychology” by E.J.R. David. The media perpetuates the tradition of valuing light skin over dark skin, where representation of varying skin tones is limited, according to Mills College. Despite centuries of colorism, much of today’s young adult generation is showing a shift in ideals, Karen said. “Color doesn’t define a person. All skin colors are beautiful,” Vickram said.


THE CLOSET

A new outlook for anim

by Rikki Ocampos While the fervor of anime fans remains strong and alive, many fans now find themselves uncomfortable in displaying their love for it. An unfortunate side effect of the explosion of anime’s popularity in America is the idea that anime lovers – often referred to as “otaku” and “weeaboo” – are considered awkward and socially inept. While some fans are known for having fierce passions for the shows they love, impairing their ability to function in some cases, watching anime isn’t an identity in of itself. More passive anime fans might keep their affection to themselves. Alyson Nguyen, a freshman majoring in art at the University of Central Florida, calls herself a “closet enthusiast.” “I don’t want to be known as just a weeaboo,” she said. Anime is just one of her interests and to label her based on that interest is shallow, she said. According to Elizabeth Mai, a freshman double majoring in dietetics and exercise science at Florida State University, the negative aspects of anime are not just limited to weeaboo and otaku labels. “People ask me if I watch a certain show, and if I say no, they call me a bad Asian,” she said. Both Mai and Nguyen said they find themselves faced with the expectation that because they’re Asian, they’re required to watch anime and specific shows. While many Asian Americans may want to hide their love

26 • VISIONS


T WEEABOO

me culture

from their peers, some even hide it from their families. “Because I’m Chinese, my dad actually disliked it when I watched anime when I was young because he held a grudge against all things Japanese due to past JapaneseChinese conflicts,” Mai said. Nguyen said her parents are apprehensive of anime because women are portrayed in a hypersexualized manner. “They make everything sexual and it’s always catered to guys,” Nguyen said, but she is hoping for a better future for the reputation of anime. Nguyen said she believes the current state of anime is ostracizing the anime community. By bridging the gaps, anime’s reputation will may grow beyond associations of sexualizing young girls and obsessing over Japanese culture. “Anime can be genuinely fun. I love the art and the plots. But some people ruin it for everyone by oversexualizing,” Nguyen said. Nguyen’s optimism is indicative in the growing change in anime’s fan community. Tired of being stigmatized, fans – closeted or not – are addressing the problems and working to make it more inviting to others. By making anime welcoming to new fans, the community works to change the anime paradigm. “I want people to be able to express themselves without worrying about people’s opinions based on different interactions they’ve had,’’ she said.

VISIONS • 27


MAJOR DECISIONS

Finding the right vision by Thalia Su

E

mily Lin grew up in a family of engineers. Though she preferred English and history in high school, her parents encouraged her to study science, technology, engineering or math in college.

Today, Lin is a second-year industrial engineering student at the University of Central Florida. “I decided on engineering because I thought it would be a lot more practical, and I thought it would be easier to find a job,” Lin said. “I never thought that I would go into engineering, but with industrial engineering, I feel like I found something that really suits me.” Lin is part of the growing STEM industry. According to the Economics and Statistics Administration, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent, while non-STEM occupations are expected to increase by a mere 9.8 percent from 2008 to 2018. The same 2011 report states STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. Alex Chu, a senior nursing student at UCF, chose STEM for a reasons similar to Lin. He said he believes that STEM fields have higher paying jobs. “I’m a first-generation Asian American and I was pushed towards something that can sustain a family in the future and be useful,” Chu said. Chu remembers his mother asking him how much certain jobs made. Her hope was that Chu would grow up without needing to depend on others. When Chu graduated as valedictorian of his high school, he said he remembers his mom was not impressed with that accomplishment. “Is that it?” she told him. She always stressed the importance work ethic and encouraged Chu to never stop striving to improve

28 • VISIONS


“There exists a stigma that studying art is not as important as studying a field such as science, technology, engineering or mathematics, but that is horribly inaccurate.” himself.

on my own terms,” Nguyen said.

For many Asian parents, improving their children’s quality of life means going into the STEM field Lin said.

Instead of feeling outnumbered by the Asian STEM majors, Nguyen is focused on the underrated value of art.

“Maybe it’s only the Asian parents I know, but it seems like (Asian parents) find a lot of job security in engineering fields,” Lin said. “They know that jobs in STEM fields tend to pay more.”

“There exists a stigma that studying art is not as important as studying a field such as science, technology, engineering or mathematics, but that is horribly inaccurate,” Nguyen said. “Art can be found in almost every aspect of our lives from media and propaganda to architecture and fashion.”

But Lin’s observations aren’t merely an anomaly. Asians make up 19 percent of workers in science and engineering, making up the second largest racial group after non-Hispanic whites according to the National Science Foundation. Recently, though, Chu does not feel that most Asians are pursuing STEM degrees. He may be noticing an emerging trend. While first-generation Asians tend to pursue STEM occupations, while succeeding generations are more likely to pursue non-STEM occupations like law and business, according to a 2010 International Business Times article. “I feel like a majority of the (younger) ones I’ve met are heading towards business or hospitality,” Chu said. “I know some people that went from STEM to non-STEM majors just because they think they can’t handle the workload.” But not everyone sees a correlation between race and choice of study. UCF studio art sophomore Lin Nguyen believes her major was a decision she made independently. Though her parents initially encouraged her to pursue STEM, they have been supportive of her decision to become an art major. “They still worry about my future, but in the grand scheme of things, they understand that this is a choice I must make

30 • VISIONS

Lin, Chu and Nguyen have different visions for how they will affect the next generation. Though not her main goal, Nguyen hopes that the next generation will be able to draw inspiration from her work. “I am unsure how it became this way, but there is an enormous amount of pressure on young adults today to make an impact on future generations,” Nguyen said. “In reality, we are most impactful when we are unwittingly sincere -- not when we aspire to live up to an expectation to be extraordinary.” Chu aims to inspire others to work harder and achieve more than what he achieved. “I don’t want people to think, ‘I want to be just like him,’” Chu said. “I want the future to do better than what I was able to do.” Lin hopes that she can influence more girls to work in STEM by volunteering in the Society of Women Engineers’ outreach programs to elementary schools. There SWE members teach children about engineering materials using pool noodles as PVC piping. “As for when I have kids, I’m not really sure,” Lin said. “I think I probably would like them to go into STEM fields, just for the same reason my parents liked me to go into it. But of course, it’s really what makes them happy.”


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We have opportunities in: • writing • photography • design • finance • promotions • event planning • multimedia • and more Apply online at sparks-mag.com/apply


1/1 Downstairs $625 • 1/1 Upstairs $645 Townhouse 2/2 $785 • 3/2 $850 • 4/2 $950 •

Less than 2 miles from UF!

One-bedroom apartment flats

Two, three, and four-bedroom • townhomes • Large sparkling pool &

sundeck

Lighted basketball, racquetball and tennis courts 3 bus routes to UF (9, 35 & 36) Computer lab with free printing

Fitness Center

Alarm systems in every unit

Clubhouse Game Room

Vegetable Garden

Exclusive Dog Park

Profile for Sparks Magazine

Sparks Magazine Issue No. 7  

Real stories. Real people. The Visions issue.

Sparks Magazine Issue No. 7  

Real stories. Real people. The Visions issue.

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