Sparks Magazine Issue No. 15 | University of Florida

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Fall 2018

Issue 15

The University of Florida

Don’t Do It How Nike highlights its social image but exploits its labor

We Are Here Power Moves Understanding the journey of immigrant teachers in the United States

Rising activist Nushrat Nur discusses how activism shapes her world

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university of florida



CONTENT EDITORS Iesha Ismail, Ashley Nguyen DESIGN EDITORS Ingrid Wu, Allyson Martinez PHOTO EDITORS Claudia Forster Torres, Jessica Lim Liwag FINANCE DIRECTOR Jerry Lee


PRINT WRITERS Nazli Islam, Tyler Less, Kaylyn Ling, Nikhita Nookala, David Park, Emma Ross, Hasin Sharma, Ashley Tatang, Denise Tran, Yuting Wang, Hannah Wang PHOTOGRAPHERS David Chan, Cindy Chen, Kylee Gates, HyeJin Min, Asena Markal, Laura San Juan, Sofia Zheng DESIGNERS Bryce Chan, Olivia Chen, Ashley Somchanhmavong, Bow Vongvanij , Karen Yung, Esther Zhan, Shuer Zhuo, Josh Bronto, Sarah Nguyen


PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR Grace Song PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR Priya Mohan PR STAFF Nabiha Azaz, Josh Bronto, Bethany Kim, Grace Song

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UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ann Dang MANAGING EDITOR Nica Angelica Ramirez PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR Jasmine Gabriel PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR Valentina Velasquez PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Simon Fevrier DESIGN EDITOR Ebone Grayson WRITERS Ayesha Faisal, Adrian Lee, Valentina Velasquez PHOTOGRAPHERS Paola Chinchilla, Jasmine Gabriel, Minh-Chau Le DESIGNERS Simon Fevrier, Cassidy Nguyen, Thalia Su

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Aishani Shrinath MANAGING EDITOR Cynthia Lai CONTENT EDITOR Deeva Agravat PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Sophia Thai SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Dana Almasri WRITERS Samia Alamgir, Camille Custodio, Sucharita Gummalla, Bryant Nguyen, Trianna Nguyen DESIGNERS Ash Alonzo



letter from the editor Dear reader, Real talk: Making a magazine is hard. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from Sparks, real growth can’t occur without awkward bumps and obstacles along the way. I usually operate according to the principle of cautious optimism – hope for the best, prepare for the worst. While I still subscribe to this, I’ve acquainted myself with risk, trial and failure. For this 15th issue of Sparks, our staff has used this magazine as an outlet of expression and a grounds for experimentation. Think messy Google Calendars, clumsy fundraising attempts and endless drafts marked with Muji pens.

We are more than just a monolith; we are a vibrant, rich community layered with our own stories and traditions that are meant to be shared. I’m fortunate enough to have been a witness to Sparks’ growth as a place to seek knowledge and understanding. I hope that as you flip through these pages, we can ignite new conversation, enact change and elevate our voices. Spark it up y’all. °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

This time, our goal was not only to innovate but improve our content by digging deeper into unknown issues that our community faces or even sometimes ignores. You’ll find that we discuss topics such as exploited Vietnamese labor, local Gainesville activism and the Asian American influence in modern-day architecture. While it’s important to explore new perspectives that make up the Asian American identity, we must also recognize our individual struggles and what that means for our community as a whole.


Alyssa Ramos Editor-In-Chief

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table of contents 6 Fighting the Trend

24 Don’t Do It

9 Family Over Everything

27 The Inter-Korean Summit

BY nikhita nookala

BY hannah wang

BY denise tran

BY adrian lee

12 On the Crossroads Of Culture

28 Out of the Bamboo Basket


30 Unveiling Discrimination

BY ayesha faisal

The APIDA Media: A Token No Longer BY tyler less

BY emma ross

BY samira alamgir

16 Asian By Design

32 The Beloved Balikbayan Box

18 Overseas Opportunities

34 Nushrat Nur: Power Moves

20 Left In the Dust

36 Distant Dividends

21 Save the Dates

38 We Are Here

BY ashley tatang

BY sucharita gummalla and bryant nguyen

BY cynthia lai

BY aishani shrinath and deeva agravat

22 Interwined Art BY yuting wang

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BY hasin sharma

BY nazli islam

BY david park

BY kaylyn ling

6 24

9 34

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by nikhita nookala

A look at Asian American voting habits in the U.S.


elly Choi has always wanted to make a change in the world.

The 18-year-old government and English major spent her summer organizing a massive voter registration tour, the Road for Change, at the University of Texas at Austin. Inspired by the activism of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students in Florida, Choi started the first March for Our Lives chapter at UT Austin, which promotes gun control awareness. “I think having this kind of self-interest and fixating on creating a better life for oneself might be a mindset that is holding [Asian Americans] back [from participating in politics],” Choi said. As a Korean American, Choi said she noticed that Asian Americans, especially the older generation, are too focused on providing for their individual families and creating a new life in America to participate in politics. However, Choi has always been interested in politics since she was a child. “I think I was always interested in the idea of equality and human rights — when I was eight, my dream job was to be an environmentalist, even though I don’t think I entirely knew what that meant,” Choi said.

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Choi said that she had never been a traditional “girly-girl” when she was younger, but her mother tried to make her fit that standard growing up. This made her more conscious of underlying women’s rights issues in Asian American households. “I grew up Korean American, and in Korean society and a lot of Asian societies, it’s very patriarchal, and there is a lot of standards put on women and men,” Choi said.

you do tend to see that income and efficacy -- there is a correlation there. —dr. kevin baron Asian Americans have been a growing minority in the United States and a growing fraction of the electorate, now accounting for about four percent of all voters, according to NBC. Now, many Asian Americans from both sides of the political aisle are becoming more visible from conservatives such as Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley to liberals such as Kamala Harris and Ted Lieu. As recently as 20 years prior, a majority of Asian American voters considers themselves conservative and voted for

design/sarah nguyen

Fighting the Trend

Republican candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In fact, in 1992, 55 percent of Asians voted for George H.W. Bush compared to the 31 percent for Bill Clinton, according to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. David Hsieh, a 21-year-old telecommunications major at UF, grew up in a conservative family and was never really intrigued by politics. “I grew up with a conservative family — a very religious family. I kind of always hated politics because when we watch the news, you always see people fighting,” Hsieh said. “Even though I consider myself to have strong beliefs, I did not vote in [the 2016 presidential election] because for me, I don’t think I could have a clear conscience if I had voted for either candidate.” Hsieh said that while he leans conservative, he has differing views from his parents. “I think since I was nurtured by my parents, I obviously have a bias [about] what my parents have taught me, but over the course of time, I make my own choices. I think I am more open-minded than my parents,” Hsieh said. “Recently, I’ve been hearing things, kept being open-minded, hearing people’s personal stories, and even though I’m Republican, I do have some left[-sided] views that I agree with.”

Hsieh’s sister, Cresonia Wong, a 24-year-old UF journalism alum and former Sparks Magazine editor, also expresses that she has trouble choosing between the two parties with her moderately conservative stance on issues. “I don’t support a lot of the tweets Trump writes, and I’m not in approval of the way that he treats women or immigrants. I just don’t think those are issues associated with core Republican beliefs,” Wong said. “I would say that the Republican party is in a changing state and that my parents are going with that, but I would say that I am not.” Wong says that when she was in middle school, she disagreed with her parents politically but was not sure how to mend that disconnect. In Wong’s mind, it seemed like she had to stay quiet about her divergent political views. “In sixth grade, I didn’t agree with the death penalty, [but] my parents felt like if an act was seen as heinous, then that person basically shouldn’t deserve a second chance. My family is also very Evangelical Christian, and I felt like that’s not what I’d been taught as a Christian,” Wong said. “I think the concept of redemption - the concept of second chances and

i obviously have a bias [about] what my parents have taught me, but over the course of time, I make my own choices —david hsieh, 21

i think having this kind of self-interest and fixating on creating a better life for oneself might be a mindset that is holding [Asian Americans] back [from participating in politics] - kelly choi, 18

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grace - is very prominent in evangelical Christian texts, and I felt like that was at odds with what I’d actually been taught by my parents.” However, more recently, as social issues and the future of welfare programs have come to the center of political debate, more Asian Americans find themselves switching to the left side, according to Pew Research. Nearly half of Asian Americans — 47 percent — are not officially affiliated with any party. This means that these voters are “swing” voters and can, in theory, be persuaded to vote for either side. Political efficacy, the urge to participate in politics and the feeling an individual has on their government, is impacted by factors such as age, race, ethnicity, education and income. While income is not the only factor responsible for political efficacy, it is one of the more significant ones, according to Kevin Baron, the coordinator for civic engagement at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service. “In a cynical sense, if you were trying to keep certain groups from voting, those who don’t get time off or lunch breaks to go and vote can’t stand in line for five or six hours; they’ll lose their job and can’t afford to do that,” Dr. Baron said. “You do tend to see that income and efficacy — there is a correlation there.” In general, more wealthy, older, white and educated people have higher levels of political efficacy, according to Dr. Baron. Per the Washington Post, depending on which ethnic group an Asian American belongs to and when the ir family immigrated to the United States, the income level of Asian Americans varies greatly. For example, according to the Washington Post, the median income of Asians ranges from about $100,000 among Indian Americans to $30,000 among Burmese Americans. In fact, according to the New York Times, Asian Americans have the greatest income gap of all racial groups in the nation, meaning that the gap between the richest and poorest Asian Americans is very wide. Richard Doan, an 18-year-old journalism major at UF, says that his parents’ Vietnamese heritage affected the way that they view political issues in the U.S. “I think my parents’ experience with the Vietnam War affected their political views to a certain degree. Both of my parents grew up in Northern Vietnam during the 70s. As kids, they felt the full oppression of the communist regime in place. They were born Vietnamese, but here in the U.S., they have become Vietnamese-American. Their views regarding social issues are rather progressive,” Doan said. “They believe in the expansion of education and making it more accessible and more sustainable. However, as small business owners and entrepreneurs, their stance on fiscal affairs is

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if we think of things like age, ethnicity, education level; when you start to examine those factors working together, it may give you more of a different picture - dr. kevin baron

rather conservative. They tend to favor a flat tax rate and are generally opposed to raising taxes.” However, income is not the end all, be all of political participation, Baron said. “You have to look [at] more than just income. Race or ethnicity is a part of this, and age is a part of this too,” Dr. Baron said. “If we think of things like age, ethnicity, education level; when you start to examine those factors working together, it may give you more of a different picture.” The current political climate has involved a lot of youth mobilization, especially in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections. Even at the University of Florida, students would be hard-pressed to avoid seeing various student organization representatives with clipboards and voter registration forms around campus. Younger constituents are turning up to the polling stations, signaling that voting behaviors of even the least politically involved groups can still change. With the recent rise in the youth vote, Asian Americans should follow their example, as well as rally their numbers and encourage voting within their communities. Younger Asian Americans like Choi, Hsieh, Wong and Doan have the power to change the voting narrative within their own communities. Whether it is calling their parents to the polls or simply educating others on the importance of their political efficacy, Asian Americans can bridge the political gap. Hopefully, in the near future, Asian Americans can have their voice be heard louder than ever on the ballot.

by hannah wang

Family Over Everything Asian Americans consider their cultural obligation to take care of their parents


“He took care of me when I was young, and now I’m taking care of him when he can’t take care of himself anymore,” Hatcher said. “It felt very natural to me.”

Hatcher’s grandfather is just one of many Asian Americans over the age of 50 in the United States. A 2015 report from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) said the number of Asian Americans 50 years or older grew by 56 percent from 2000 to 2010. As the number of Asian American families grows rapidly, it presents a new issue for a younger generation of Asian Americans, who must balance independence and filial piety.

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design/esther zhan

After learning that his grandfather was sick with terminal pancreatic cancer, Hatcher decided to take time off his job at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s pharmacy school to take care of him. Hatcher said he fed him, gave him water and sometimes was there just to hold his hand.

Now a media relations associate at a firm in Washington D.C., Hatcher said he had no regrets about his decision because it was his last chance to connect with his grandfather before he passed away.

photography/ hye-jin min

he took care of me when I was young, and now I’m taking care of him when he can’t take care of himself anymore –nick hatcher, 23

t age 23, Nick Hatcher put his life on hold for three months to take care of his grandfather.

Hatcher said the value of family was instilled in him at an early age, and he believes that children should take care of their parents as they age. Before he started taking care of his grandfather, Hatcher said he was in a place in his life where he could sacrifice job opportunities and interviews to be there for his family. Although he had to sacrifice many job opportunities, he did not hesitate. Even if it was not a convenient time for him, Hatcher said that he would have taken care of his grandfather regardless.

serving his mother plan for his grandmother’s future. AAPIs are almost twice as likely to care for their elders than the general population of the same age, according to AARP. In Asian countries such as China, many children take care of their elders because many retirement homes are corrupt and often mistreat elders due to a lack of regulation, said University of Florida sociology professor, Tianyuan Tang.

Being half Chinese and half white, Hatcher said he always felt in touch with his Chinese heritage, and it has played a role in his decision to put his career on hold.

“In China, there are also many nursing homes, but the only thing is that the old parents cannot get help from nursing homes because those nursing homes are not well regulated by government,” Tang said.

The same 2015 AARP report also said that most Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who are older than 50 years old in the United States expect their children to take care of them. Hatcher felt this obligation ob-

There is a higher rate of intergenerational households within Asian American families, said an AARP report in November 2014. This is due in large part to Asian American prioritization of respect for elders. According

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to Tang, other countries don’t practice the same extensive obligation as Asians to live with or closely take care of their parents due to the belief that retirement homes and assisted living facilities may not provide the most comfortable, safe or healthy living environment for parents. In Chinese culture, the family is a collective entity, and there is this idea of preserving face, which involves maintaining one’s social reputation and prestige, according to UF English major and Asian American studies minor senior Sara Han. Many Asians spend most of their lives avoiding disgraceful situations to build social status and achievement since they believe that respect for family hierarchy correlates with the person’s virtue.

the only thing is that the old parents cannot get help from nursing homes because those nursing homes are not well regulated by the government –tianyuan tang

“It was their dream to come to America to make better opportunities for their children and for myself,” Han said. “I, in a sense, feel obligated to serve them to the best of my ability too.” Many Asian children feel an obligation to serve a specific position in their households because of the values of Confucianism and filial piety in East Asian culture. However, Han said that she felt a decline in filial piety as values of independence and freedom become more important with every new generation.

the notion of asian american values is fairly new, and it’s up to us to define what those values are and see what sacrifices must be made to achieve our goals –quoc pham, 21

Historically, the importance of family comes from ancestral worship, Tang said. In ancient times, families tended to be larger, and supporting relatives was of utmost importance. “In Chinese culture, the really close relationships are based on blood, not based on formal social relationships,” Tang said. First-generation Asian Americans in particular feel a need to help their parents as they get older because of how much their parents have done for them. Due to these sentiments, many Asian American children feel a need to return the favor and take care of their parents as they get older. Tang said intergenerational support has shifted from instrumental support like housework and cooking to material support like sending money to parents and family. Quoc Pham, a 21-year-old junior studying theater at the University of Florida, was born in Vietnam and moved to Sarasota, Florida, at the age of one. He believes that family is a priority in Asian culture because of the sacrifices parents like his have made for their children, especially if they emmigrate from another country. “With Asian and Asian American families, everything you do is for your family,” Pham said. Pham said he felt an inner conflict between his passion for theater versus a stable future himself and his family. Ultimately, he knew he had to follow his passion for theater but still hopes to provide for his parents and take care of them as they age. When Pham was in fifth grade, he felt anxious showing his dad the permission slip to Busch Gardens because he didn’t know if they had enough money to pay for the field trip. Due to the 2008 recession, his father was laid off, and business at his mom’s nail salon slowed down. Their family had porridge every night, and he had to help with chores around the house. He hid the permission slip for over two weeks before his dad found it. After telling him it was for the end of the year field trip, his dad reassured him that he could go, and that stuck with him.

of other ways, but my dad didn’t really hesitate and wanted me to have one last thing with my friends and classmates.” For Tang, Han, Pham and Hatcher, taking care of their parents today means showing that they care through staying in touch with them long distance. With the advent of FaceTime and other communication technologies, it is apparent that taking care of parents includes more than physical care. Asian children understand that they must also show emotional care and unconditional love for their parents, supporting them just as the parents did for them when they were younger. Many AAPI immigrants came to the United States with no money in their pockets to start a better life for their children. They left their homeland, relatives, language and culture behind to give future generations a better life than they had. This idea of the American Dream resonated with many children of Asian immigrants and is also part of the reason they feel an obligation to help their parents.Pham mentioned his take on the American Dream. “The notion of Asian American values is fairly new, and it’s up to us to define what those values are and see what sacrifices must be made to achieve our goals.” In Asian culture, family is a core value that people try to preserve. College students and young working professionals today realize that every moment spent with family and loved ones is precious. Even though there have been intergenerational shifts in taking care of parents, one thing remains certain: family over everything.

“That chunk of money probably was really substantial to us,” Pham said. “It probably could have helped us in a lot

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On the On the Crossroads Crossroads of Culture of Culture a look into the intersection of hip-hop and East Asian culture 12 | fall 2018


by Ayesha Faisal

photography/Jasmine Gabriel

design/Ann Dang

o the casual listener, the fusion of East Asian culture within hip-hop may seem odd. However, with the recent release of songs like “Stir Fry” and “Chun Li” by Migos and Nicki Minaj respectively, the cultural influence is evident. Although many have criticized these music videos for cultural appropriation and stereotyping, unbeknownst to many, hip-hop has a lengthy history with East Asian culture particularly pertaining to Asian movies and television shows. The confluence of martial arts films and hip-hop music is rooted in its birthplace New York City. The fascination with martial arts movies was no mere coincidence, rather a product of geography. According to Joseph Schloss, who holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, in his novel “Foundation: B-boys, B-girls and Hip-Hop Culture in New York,” the influence of martial arts movies can be attributed to the cheap movie theaters in neighborhoods. Oftentimes the cheapest movies screened in the movie theaters were Kung Fu movies from Hong Kong, making them accessible to young rappers. Although a proper cultural understanding was limited and subtitles were scarce, these cheap movies were a gateway for the incorporation of Asian culture into hip-hop.

the fascination with martial arts movies was no mere coincidence, rather a product of geography Perhaps the most outstanding evidence of the cultural blend comes in the form of the Wu-Tang Clan. Founded in Staten Island by Robert “RZA” Diggs in 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan was heavily influenced by East Asian culture starting from their name down to their album concepts. Diggs attributes the name “Wu-Tang” Clan as coming from the movie “Shaolin and the Wu Tang”, a 1983 Hong Kong martial arts movie. Martial arts movies played a heavy role in the creative direction of the Wu-Tang Clan, as seen in songs like “7th Chamber”, as well as the names of the two discs “Shaolin Sword” and “Wu-Tang Sword.” The entire album “Enter the Wu” itself bore strong references to old martial arts movies, both thematically and musically, a key facet in the Wu’s artistic direction. In an interview with the New York Times, Diggs called hip-hop a sort of “prelude to Kung Fu.” By adapting the stylization of martial arts movies to the historical struggle of African Americans championed by hip-hop, the Wu-Tang Clan had struck a cultural goldmine.

Although the theatrical and dramatized stylings of the Wu-Tang Clan and their contemporaries died out as the “Bling Era” settled in, the martial arts influence made a reappearance in 2017 with the release of Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album “Damn.” Throughout “Damn”, Lamar adopts the persona of Kung Fu Kenny, a character in the movie Rush Hour, in his music videos. This theme continues to play out in all of Lamar’s subsequent features, such as SZA’s “Doves in the Wind” and the collaborative “King’s Dead” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack. This resurgence was not only seen in Kendrick Lamar, but also in more club-centric acts like Future and the Migos who incorporated similar sounds and themes and brought the sound to a larger audience. However, recently East Asian culture’s prevalence in hip-hop has not been limited to martial arts movies but through anime. The plots of anime are similar to that of the martial arts movies, although its scope is more widespread. The most widespread introduction of anime to the general public occurred at the turn of the century, with the introduction of Adult Swim’s Toonami, a niche programming block that showcased many different genres of anime including Dragon Ball and Naruto. Adult Swim was a cable channel making the influence of Toonami not just a niche part of one community, but a part of a larger nostalgic conscience of a generation. Nostalgia especially plays into the newer, more


alternative era of rap following the Bling Era. According to Emma Finnamore of i-D, a British magazine dedicated to fashion, art, music and youth culture, many of the prevailing themes of anime resonates with rappers; the “me against the world” mentality, the “downtrodden hero”, the escapism. In anime, specifically shonen anime, many artists like Frank Ocean, Lupe Fiasco and Tyler the Creator found these stories relatable. The overall “aesthetic” of the anime made for a strong source of inspiration in the more recent hip-hop acts. The cultural blend that contributes to hip-

...many found a story that was relatable and paired with the overall “aesthetic” of the anime, made for a strong source of inspiration hop is one that is still evident today and will perhaps continue to do so. More than ever, the influence of East Asian media can be seen in hip-hop, which in turn has become the prevailing voice of pop culture in this decade.

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The APIDA Media

A Token No Longer G

rowing up, Xuan Ooi only saw herself on the television screen as the brainy scientist or the martial arts master, but she could seldom relate to them. The 22-year-old

Ooi sees the lack of well-rounded Asian representation in media as part of a vicious cycle. Hollywood generally casts white, A-list stars over up-andcoming Asian American actors due to their established fame in the industry. “Asians aren’t typically given a chance to become a household name, and they often find themselves competing with those few who are already well-

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The 1993 film “The Joy Luck Club” was one of the first films to feature a majority Asian American cast. The film’s cultural and commercial success suggests that audiences are interested in seeing Asian Americans on screen. The following year, ABC premiered “All American Girl,” the first all Asian American family sitcom. Today, members of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community have taken on leading roles in film, television and theater, including Korean American actor John Cho, who headlined the 2018 thriller “Searching.” The ensemble cast for another Asian-centric film, “Crazy Rich Asians,” included Constance Wu and Ken

“[Asian Americans] were bringing their entire families to watch [Crazy Rich Asians] together, to see something they can relate to on the screen,” Ooi said. Asian American representation has brought generations of the community together. It allows for Asian American people to feel a greater sense of pride in their heritage and their background especially when their unique cultures can be shared on a mass platform.

[asian americans] were bringing their entire families to watch [crazy rich asians] together, to see something they can relate to on the screen, —xuan ooi, 22

design/ bryce chan

Chinese Malaysian American graduate student at Dharma Realm Buddhist University is all too familiar with the stereotype of Asians in film and television because others expected her to be just like them.

Ooi learned from her film studies that casting is not so dependent on whether the actor is Asian American or from Asia, rather, if viewers can identify with the story and its characters. In recent years, there has been a greater shift toward diversifying casts in mainstream movies and television through more complex storytelling. So while many Asian American actors have been typecast into stereotypical roles, more emerging Asian actors have begun paving their way, however incremental, in media and film.

Jeong, who also starred in the sitcom “Dr. Ken.” Their appearances in mainstream media were groundbreaking not only in the casting world but also by the sheer numbers of supporters who turned out at the movie theaters.

illustration/ bryce chan

asians aren ’t typically given a chance to become a household name —xuan ooi, 22

known,” Ooi said.

by tyler less

Asian Americans finding their place in Hollywood

EWP (East-West Players) founded, an LA based Asian American theatre company which produces its own shows. Formed as a result of frustration from limited opportunities in the industry for Asian Americans.

First American sitcom centered on a person of Asian descent; Mr. T and Tina featuring Pat Morita who would go on to portray Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” films.

“All American Girl”: The first American sitcom starring an all Asian American family.

“The Mindy Project” airs, starring Mindy Kaling as the first South Asian American series lead.

1965 1976 1994 2012 1951 1993 2010 2018 Anna May Wong plays the leading role in “The Gallery of Madame LiuTsong”, and is the first Asian American to have her own television show.

“The Joy Luck Club” is the first major Hollywood film to feature a majority Asian American cast in a modern setting.

Many Asian American entertainers find a base on the YouTube platform, such as Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions and Kevin Wu among others.

Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood movie with an all Asian-American cast and lead in 25 years, becomes the highest grossing romantic comedy in a decade

Aziz Ansari becomes first Asian American Golden Globe winner for a television actor. / Searching premiers, considered the first mainstream Hollywood thriller headlined by an Asian-American actor (John Cho).

Asian American Media

Milestones Over the Years

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Asian By Design Exploring Asian influences in modern architecture


tion with the Earth as well.”

One of the richest countries in the world, the UAE boasts innovations in engineering and architecture that have continued to surprise people. It is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, reaching up to almost 3,000 feet

There has been a surge in more minimalistic styles in contemporary architecture, as Japanese influence has impacted the world. Lee-Su Huang, an architecture professor at the Univer-

“I’ve traveled a lot when I was younger, so it really influenced the way I look at the world,” Jantarachota said. “You can see how different cultures like a different style, and people within that community tend to respond to it.”

asian architechture styles create the feeling of being a part of nature while still being inside a building

“It’s all about human connection to the earth,” Jantarachota said. “Everything [about Japanese building aesthetic] is simple and minimal. When I design a space, it’s so open. I’ll think about how wind passes through and the connec-

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—khang truong sity of Florida, said that Japan comes to the forefront of Asian influence in infrastructure partly because of its historical background and timing. “They established their brand — their identity — really early on” Huang said. After World War II, Japan embarked on a rebuilding phase of modernization, when materials, projects and opportunities were abundant. During this time, Japanese students who had studied architecture overseas were returning back to Japan with newer,

As more Japanese architects began to work on projects outside of the country, their influence spread more internationally. Huang said that most famous Japanese architects such as Tadao Ando are more famous abroad than they are domestically. “Architects bring in nature to the building,” Jantarachota said. This is done by merging outdoor and indoor areas together. One way architects do this is through sliding doors and glass structures. While the Western philosophy toward architecture tends to separate the relationship between the outside and inside spaces, Asian architecture styles create the feeling of being a part of nature while still being inside a building, Truong said. Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous 20th century American architect, was significantly influenced by Japanese architecture. Before he was even interested in pursuing it, Wright began collecting Japanese woodblock prints. He had been fascinated with Japanese art, describing it as “intoxicating.”

design/olivia chen

With her Thai, Mongolian, Russian American background, Jantarachota had a wide scope of cultural influence when approaching her work. Jantarachota said her favorite architecture includes Tadao Ando’s Church of Light and Japanese building aesthetics.

Khang Truong, a 20-year-old junior architecture student at the University of Florida, believes that Japanese architecture is the most influential style in terms of modern design, as it incorporates the idea of unity within nature.

cutting-edge ideas of building and design, right when the demand for it was highest.

by ashley tatang

he bare bones of Asia’s buildings enraptured Lily Jantarachota. The 20-year-old architecture junior at the University of Florida traveled to Dubai, which sparked her interest in architecture. She found herself in awe of the city’s towers and buildings.

sculpture somewhere, and people will respond to it,” Jantarachota said. “In Thailand, when there is a political issue, people tend to go to the city center and revolve around these big buildings.” Often times, changes in architecture occur after political changes. In “Critical Reflections on Cities in Southeast Asia,” it said that there is a trend toward more urban forms in order to promote a political push toward development and modernization. For example in Bandung, Indonesia, the movement from the Dutch-influenced colonial style architecture has progressed into a modernist art-deco style, whereby vibrant colors and geometric shapes dominate. These progressions have helped to promote a more developed city. “In many ways, you can think of buildings as an aggregate of culture norms,” Huang said. “It is a crystallization of a certain time period.”

While most architects at the time mapped ideas using grids or axes, these print artists used organic and geometric modules found in nature and in living forms. Truong said that as these types of styles develop, architects can find a particular style through consistent practice. He said that there is a difference between an architect’s style and language or basic understanding of architecture. “Style is something that is very hard to attain,” Truong said. “Style is not developed until you actually learn the field, and you learn the rules of design.” Aspects of beauty around the world are adapted from Asian cultures, and the influence from someone’s ethnic background can shape their outlook on the world. “Architecture is experiencing the space that is being made around you,” Jantarachota said. Architecture can be seen as physical manifestations of political, economic and military pressure. Looking into different cities, one can infer the social climate of the structure’s time period.

— lily jantarachota Jantarachota said the rise of more design systems and technology has already changed the way architects design. Instead of drawing by hand, many firms will now use computer systems to create their designs. “There are certain cultures where the doors can only face a certain direction, so the architect has to accommodate to that,” Truong said. Now, architects must find a balance between a sort of cosmopolitan hybrid and traditional form while still being innovative. There is always the question of how architects maintain their own style while building someone else’s visions, or while adapting to their rules emerges. With virtual reality simulations, 3D printers and robotic construction, the future is bright for budding architects. Time can only tell where they will find inspiration in the different aspects of beauty around them.

“Architecture is really powerful because you can put a

fall 2018| 17

A look into the struggle of international students to advance post-grad


ducation is a privilege often taken for granted in the United States, especially when it comes to post secondary education. A 2017 U.S. Census Bureau report said that 33.6 percent of native-born citizens held a bachelor degree or higher, compared to 32.4 percent of foreignborn students. About 80 percent of graduate students in the United States are from foreign countries including India, South Korea and Turkey, the U.S. Census Bureau study said.

18 | fall 2018

According to The New York Times, the pursuit of a post-baccalaureate degrees, international or immigrant students face not only academic hurdles but systemic issues that make it more difficult to attain their degrees and advance their careers. The culture of American schools presents a barrier to the international student experience for those in the undergraduate and graduate-level programs. These abroad programs focus on a knowledge of literature that

institutions have a responsibility to provide resources for their students’ success

by sucharita gummalla and bryant nguyen

Overseas Opportunities

inadequately prepares international students for commercial and industrial industries. Hands-on research is typically held in high regard, so various graduate students seek internal and external positions relevant to their fields of study. However, positions are limited. Factors such as scheduling conflicts between school and work or reliance on public transportation without an American driver’s license are common issues. These obstacles affect the ability of international students to apply and follow through on opportunities. Generally, institutions carry the responsibility of providing resources for

being able to connect with their peers and share common experience with others proved that they were not alone in their struggle

their students’ success. Today, undergraduate students have a vast community of support in all areas – finding resources in counseling, advising and career services. However, a survey of international graduate students from the USF agreed that similar resources failed to cater to their demographic. Vyanjan Patel, 24, who obtained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, said he felt USF wasn’t doing enough to provide connections for international students in STEM to advance their careers. He felt that he didn’t have enough contact with companies related to his field, so he could network with potential employers. Because there’s a broader focus on mass communications and business graduate programs, Patel said there might be a disconnect between the students and the faculty and administration. After completing his degree and relocating to Chicago, Patel noticed that there were more Florida-based companies operating in the city than what he encountered at USF. However, according to Patel’s friends at USF, the

university has been making strides to address this. Patel hopes that he and his peers can move forward with what expanded resources are offered for international students Another student who wished to remain anonymous said that they did not feel as if USF had prepared them for the job search after graduating with a master’s degree in industrial engineering in spring 2018. While they had workshops and seminars to improve their resumés, there was still some bias in selection process, they said. In many cases, students with green cards or U.S. citizenship were favored over those without, as companies did not want to take on the additional risk in case a student left once their degree was finished. The struggle even applies to internships. While some programs do not make it mandatory for graduation, academic advising may not provide adequate aid for the application process to help render students more desirable to companies. While the USF alumnus found that career networking did not meet expectations, he said he was still able to connect with their peers. Sharing common experience with others proved that they were not alone in their struggle. They still considered the university as their home away from home, owing to the community they found with other international students regardless of ethnicity, belief or major, the student said. . Regardless of the obstacles, universities do provide specific opportunities for international students unavailable in other countries. Amrita Unnikumaran, 29, took an eightyear gap before pursuing her master’s in biomedical engineering in the United States. Originally from India, Unnikumaran completed her bachelor’s in biotechnology in India, but she found that information was more accessible in the U.S. She noted advances in communication, including phones with video calling capabilities and applications that allowed for international calling. She had more freedom to choose her own courses including electives that made each student’s individual experience unique. Furthermore, she was able to seek help from faculty so that she could advance in her coursework, Unnikumaran said.

universities do provide specific opportunities for international students unavailable in other countries.

for only a semester said the university has also provided on-campus work opportunities. This is rare for international students, as they were not often selected for federal work-study or positions on campus outside of food service jobs. In addition, the complex process of obtaining a U.S. driver’s license prevents students like to leave campus conveniently. Despite these obstacles, Unnikumaran has never been made to feel unwelcome, she said. USF in particular takes pride in its emphasis on the in-

listening to each distinctive story of these students, will allow for a more efficient focus on areas to improve so that the university can uphold their student’s success

ternational student body. Instead she is hopeful that university efforts to cater to international students will improve over her time. Ultimately, the United States provides opportunities for individuals worldwide to advance academically and professionally. There will never be a perfect school that provides the fair amount of resources for all students,, but there is an opportunity to improve ways for universities to uphold student success as number one priority.

Unnikumaran who has been at USF


fall 2018| 19

Left In the Dust A look into the struggle of international students to advance post-grad

Until the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the city was a small fishing village on the coast of Guangdong. With closed schools and violence between Mao Zedong’s followers and the Communist Party, many left for Hong Kong, which often seemed like the only choice. Others went went to Shenzhen because of its close proximity to the British colony at the time. Under China’s leader Deng Xiaoping, the country experienced a massive economic boom that continues to this day. Shenzhen, one of the first to experience the magnitude of these economic changes, was named a special economic zone in 1979. At that time, it gave businesses within the city special tax benefits and incentives. Doing so brought in millions of new workers and residents from all over the country who eventually built it into what it is today. In just over three decades, the population has boomed from 30,000 people to a population of over 11 million, not including the migrant workers that bring it to nearly 20 million. Now a hub for technology and business, Shenzhen attracts people for everything ranging from travel to business. Residents enjoy higher qualities of life than they did a few decades ago, as constant development pro-

20 | fall 2018

vides more jobs and buildings. Instead of growing or catching their own food, residents now have access to restaurants and stores that come as a result of urbanization. The once small fishing village has quickly become one of the country’s top destinations for a wide range of people feeding into its rapidly growing economy. Ding Kang Liu, a third-year international student from China studying at the University of South Florida, said he notices this

I usually left my country for like a year, and when I come back they start a new building – it’s already finished -ding kang liu

change when he goes back home. “I usually left my country for a year, and when I come back, they start a new building – it’s already finished,” Liu said. Liu’s mother and father, who were originally from Hunan province and the city of Guangzhou respectively, moved to Shenzhen out of college in search of work opportunities. Although Liu’s parents have received a college education, not all of the city’s workforce can say the same. Nearly half of Shenzhen’s population includes migrant workers, many of which find low-paying work through factories or construction projects. These migrant workers are not afforded the same benefits as residents. Fur-

thermore, a lack of education or skills to obtain higher paying jobs creates a large economic gap as the cost of living continues to rise. Construction projects provide jobs, but they often create more modern housing areas at the expense of older, more affordable buildings, leaving poorer workers with fewer and fewer options. These same people also find themselves working at the cost of their own health and safety in order to survive. Hundreds of Shenzhen’s migrant workers alone have been diagnosed with health issues since the 2000s. Pneumoconiosis, a lung disease, accounted for nearly 85 percent of China’s occupational illnesses in 2017. Silicosis, an incurable form of pneumoconiosis, is also common among Shenzhen’s construction workers, who often lack official employment papers in order to receive compensation from local and state government. “I think there are definitely two different – like two sides – of the city,” Liu said. Now, people who once left Shenzhen for Hong Kong are now coming back to reap the benefits of its growing economy. The city has become known as a place of opportunity as new businesses develop at startlingly rapid speeds and where there is never a lack of jobs for anyone. However, the many who lived there before its transformation often find themselves forgotten in the news that celebrates the city’s growth. While some have been able to adapt and grow during this time, the rest have been all but left behind as there is no end in sight for the city’s urbanization.


by cynthia lai


rbanization has been a driving force behind China’s powerful, growing economy, creating new opportunities for work and innovation. However, development in cities like Shenzhen comes at a cost to the working class. While it has become a center of opportunity in recent years, the same people who built the city receive few of the benefits.

Save The Dates A discussion on representing Asian holidays

As a result, many Asian Americans can feel isolated from their culture and customs due to a lack of awareness and understanding. It poses another important aspect of addressing inclusion and diversity in the workplace and the need to reciprocate with equal benefits. This isolation can be detrimental to maintaining culture, tradition and identity alive for the Asian American community. This can run the risk of diluting a culture. As a result future generations may not be able to learn about their ancestors culture of their family or other cultures around them. Asians have played a role in shaping the United States within the last 150 years. A brief glimpse of American history details the arrival of Asian immigrants in the 19th century. Laborers from Southern China arrived in 1850. Soon after Congress enforced the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese immigrants had replaced Chinese laborers in 1882. Later, small populations of Korean and Indian immigrants had moved to the West Coast.

Representation can manifest in different forms. The discussion for Asian American representation limits the conversation to movies, television series and comic books. Holidays rarely ever make the cut. For Asian Americans who observe holidays such as Eid or Lunar New Year, workers aren’t given the same benefits. For those who celebrate Asian holidays either have to work or take time off without any pay for that day.

by aishani shrinath and deeva agravat


hristmas icons like the Grinch, Santa Claus and Rudolph the Reindeer are prime examples of American commercialization at work. The United States is notorious for commercializing religious holidays made evident by early Christmas displays in October. Fourth of July beer commercials bombard the television constantly – Yes, Budweiser we see you – we never see commercials that acknowledge Diwali or stores with Lunar New Year displays.

In the 1920s a large flux of Filipinos also migrated to the West Coast. In 1975, refugees immigrated from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. One would think that after all this time, the U.S would be more aware and understand Asian Holidays and integrate these holidays into institutions, and public schools. After all when the Irish immigrating to the U.S in the 1840s St. Patricks Day has been ingrained into popular culture, and with the . Why has there been a lack of observance for Eid, Lunar New Year, and Diwali?


The American schooling system puts an emphasis on Western Holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. However, as a child I often felt isolated since it was difficult to explain what Navratri, Diwali, and Holi meant and the importance of these holidays. I vividly remember in high school when a student mocked Hinduism saying, “Oh yeah- isn’t that the religion where you can be reincarnated as a potato?” Observance of non-Western holidays is an important conversation as these holidays allows one to get a better understanding of their religion, culture and a sense of belonging.

fall 2018| 21

The interactive influence between Chinese and American art


nspired by Chinese culture, the great painter, Pablo Picasso, once said, “Had I been born Chinese, I would have been a calligrapher, not a painter.”

Anna Calluori Holcombe, a professor of ceramics at the University of Florida, has been to China 13 times. “Every year I know more and more American artists that are going to China to make their work,” Holcombe said. “The influence between two countries’ art and

She has created most of her work in Jingdezhen, China, where she studied the traditional methods of making earthenware and porcelain. There, Holcombe used 3D technology — an unconventional method in China — to scan natural objects and design models. “People don’t always think of the two things together in the same way at the same time,” Holcombe said. Coming from a propaganda-based tradition, Chinese artists create their work with specific government-approved messages through minimalistic art styles. Holcombe, also director of the School of Art and Art History at UF, taught work-

“I don’t want to force people to think of a particular statement [when they look at my work]. That’s kind of important to me. People can interpret [my art] depending on their personal experiences,” Holcombe said. Yong Zhang, a Chinese artist in oil paint-

every year I know more and more american artists that are going to china to make their work. I have been there 13 times. The influence between two countries’ art and culture definitely goes both ways -anna calluori

photography/ asena markal

Chinese and American art study one another and evolve in their respective ways while maintaining their own essence. However, with an increasingly global world, Chinese and American artists inspire one another through their aesthetics, skills, cultural and social influences.

Holcombe, who draws inspiration from Chinese traditional handicrafts, said her work has integrated China paints, vintage decals and other Chinese ancient elements, as well as hand-work skills.

shops in China, where she always encouraged her colleagues and students to be open-minded about her artwork.

by yuting wang

Scholars in the United States are often intrigued by how the West influences culture in the East but seldom does the conversation go the other way.

culture definitely goes both ways.”

design/ bow vongvanij

22 | fall 2018

ing, said he was impressed by America’s sense of freedom, confidence and innovation. “I was shocked by Americans’ expression of personality, which is seldom seen in my country,” Zhang said. “Their practice of multiple media broadened my horizon in oil painting.” Zhang noted that Western artists use media outside of traditional ones. They use sound effects, photoelectron, multimedia technologies and biological art in their work. Shengwei Hu, a Ph.d. student at Oregon State University, studies photography as a hobby. Hu is interested in acquiring creative sources from human nature because of China’s developing economy and recent emphasis on people’s quality of life. Despite his roots in China, his artistic works were subconsciously influenced by Western art. “For instance, most Chinese people would like to produce a human face with a transparent skin tone,” Hu said. “However, Americans loves chiaroscuro obviously, using highlights and shadow to stand out human faces’ stereopsis.” In their long history, Chinese people have followed the model of the perfect being, typically characterized as reserved and shy. However, a Western perspective invites Chinese people to speak out and challenge such authority. “In China, there is so much tradition and people have to overcome the stereotypes in ceramics,” Holcombe said. “We don’t have many traditional feelings but have

western art and history in america are valuable evidence of human civilization, which assimilates foreign art emblems unconsciously -yi ren

more creative ideas.” However, while conversation surrounds the Western influence on Chinese art, people usually do not consider how developing countries actually impact developed countries. Yi Ren, an economics senior at UF, was born in China and came to the United States in high school. Having gone to school in both countries, he has observed the influence of Chinese culture in American art and architecture. “Western art and history in America are valuable evidence of human civilization, which assimilates foreign art emblems unconsciously,” Ren said. One such example is a stone dragon sculpture that surrounds a post in Seattle’s Chinatown, according to Ren. Nostalgic of Chinese culture, the dragon has a unique charm with its dynamic cross-culture influence between two countries. Quanwu Liu is a co-partner of Oceanic Culture Transmission Co. Ltd, a Chinese company interested in spreading Chinese art through designing and selling traditional handicrafts. Liu said that his own original Chinese products have served as the basis for Western elements like comics, cartoons and comics. Liu’s mission is to spread Chinese historical stories and art around the world and pump new blood into traditional art. “Our understanding toward Chinese traditional art cannot be limited to its aesthetic value but relates to self-worth, Liu said. “[This] means finding our own identities from families, teams and other people.

illustrations based on traditional chinese art and anna calluori holcombe’s natura viva series

fall 2018| 23

Don’t Do It by denise tran

“It’s difficult to be morally correct in the textiles business when it’s all about profit and success,” said 22-year-old former public relations major at Swinburne University, Chau Nguyen.

Over the course of the 2016 NFL football season, Kaepernick knelt, or “took a knee,” during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. This simple but powerful expression has sparked national debate and subsequently cost Kaepernick his athletic career. As he used his platform to take firm stances on controversial topics, Nike has done the same, by making him the face of its latest advertisement. However, this effort toward rebranding as a socially conscious company is diametrically opposed to Nike’s refusal to sacrifice profit for the assurance of basic human rights.

According to Nguyen, a former associate with a United Nations Committee involved in fashion and textiles industry, unless a business’s mission statement includes strong motives and morals to be socially aware from its conception, most of the time it is “noise marketing.” “Noise marketing” refers to the distractions associated with a conveyed message. Sometimes it is intangible, such as a business statement of ethics or visuals and designs that contain too much text or too many images that form an incoherent advertisement. In Nike’s case, the company incorpo-

24 | fall 2018

rates sustainability and female empowerment into its brand but produces its products in an unethical way. Often, brands and companies will take this marketing approach in order to promote themselves and produce advertisements that are disguised as social initiatives with the goal of reaching broader audiences or compelling people to associate a cause with their image. It is easy for big corporations to disguise the idea of social consciousness while participating in exploitative practices behind the scenes, as they do not have total control when outsourcing. Nguyen said that she believes it is often a marketing ploy. In 2008, the Nike Foundation released a campaign called The Girl Effect, which called for female empowerment by giving girls the resources to work in order to lift developing nations out

design/sarah nguyen


ike’s most recent controversial campaign features Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback and now prominent figure in American social justice issues.

photography/ laura san juan

How Nike highlights its social image but exploits its labor

of poverty and combat economic and social oppression. Malyna Reed, a 19-year-old advertising major at the University of Florida, analyzed Nike’s advertising strategies within the video that accompanied The Girl Effect.

Targeting a certain audience with ulterior motives through marketing contradicts the objective of ethicallysourced consumer goods and, by extension, social consciousness. After the launch of the Kaepernick cam-

it’s difficult to be morally correct ... when it’s all about profit and sucess —chau nguyen, 22

She said there are techniques in place that attract the viewer’s attention, so they cannot look away. Some techniques include the use of motion, whereby the figure progresses through a visual timeline shaped as a clock. Words were also used as arrows, shifting up and down the screen, so that the eye focuses and follows the motion. The animated subjects also lacked faces, aiming attention at the sole content of the message.

paign, Nike stock reached a record high with a $6 billion market value and an increase in sales by 31 percent. Nike has a clear vision on how to attract its current core consumers — namely, disguising capitalism as activism.

Advertisements blur the line when it comes to supporting an idea and supporting a company, which in turn, usually benefits the company. Nike boasts the idea of female empowerment, but its supply chain suggests otherwise. This raises an important issue of ethics.

As a company, Nike has dominated the fashion industry with its sneakers and athletic apparel. The Nike swoosh is one of the most recognizable icons in the world, and the company is fully aware of that fact. It has taken bold statements and launched campaigns to relay a message of social aware-

ness and equality. The fashion giant puts great effort into its public image, through investments, advertisements and endorsements. Its iconic slogan, “Just Do It,” mimics a call to action. Yet, this social action is nonexistent in the Nike supply chain, which heavily exploits Asian female labor. Nike’s millions of workers include women in Vietnam, tasked to manufacture shoes and clothes under poor working conditions with menial pay. As of 2018, there are 97 factories spread across Vietnam. The story of Nike’s factories and poor conditions is not new. The World Bank published a report in 2003 indicating that these circumstances surfaced around the mid-to-late 1990’s. Weak regulation of labor in Vietnam resulted in labor code violations — discovered shortly after one of Vietnam’s most prominent factories, the Tae Kwang Vina, was opened in 1995. Girls as young as 16 were exposed to toxic solvents and dyes used on the assembly line. Many Vietnamese workers left rural rice fields and their families behind in order to earn higher wages, leaving their villages only to face new, harsh work environments. These positions entailed a monthly salary of approximately 40 USD, working hours over the legal limit, poor hygienic conditions and abuse from demanding managers. Nike has taken many strides to correct this issue. For example, in 1999, a “Code of Conduct” was established to protect workers’ rights and wages. Its “Nike Code Leadership Standard,” published in September of 2017, vaguely states that at least a legal minimum wage determined by individual country must be paid. However, minimum wage does not necessarily equate a living wage in the countries to which they choose to outsource. According to the WageIndicator Foundation, the monthly minimum wage is 2.76 million VND to 3.98 million VND, varying by region. By contrast, the living wage for a single adult is 2.85 million VND to 3.94 million VND. This translates to a minimum wage of approximately 117

fall 2018| 25

to 169 USD and a living wage of 121 to 168 USD. However, this living wage does not account for adults with children or larger families, which is more often than not the reality of female factory workers. According to Nguyen, global manufacturers relocate their production to Asian countries because they can easily take advantage of Asian countries’ low GDP and utilize developing countries’ standard of low wages, lax labor regulations and eager employees wanting to make an income. In short, outsourcing means cheap, easy labor. Factory conditions have been bleak in the past, but outsourcing labor to Asian countries became frequent during the late 70s and early 80s when the production of material goods became essential for export and liberalized trade. Such countries include China, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam. “This entire system, especially when outsourced, tends to forgo the basic human rights for those in that environment, meaning that women are primarily affected financially and physically,” Nguyen said. With a globalized supply chain, it is hard for a company to keep track of every single moving part of the process. It does not help that transparency becomes more lacking, as the production and supply chain becomes more spread out across the globe. In most cases, businesses do not want to take responsibility for every single employee, and instead prioritize demand. Men and women both suffer in this industry, but women face greater risks health and safety-wise in physically laborious jobs. This concept is called “the feminization of poverty.” Around the world, especially in developing countries, women suffer from disadvantages solely due to their gender. It is common in impoverished countries for women, especially those living in rural regions, to be denied access to credit, land or inheritance, according to UN Women. The global economy’s expansion cre-

26 | fall 2018

ates an even larger disparity between public spending and social programs that benefit women and families. The problem runs deeper with the effects of globalization, exemplified by Nike’s pursuance of the global markets and workforce. Poor lighting, toxic air, raw materials and long hours put an emotional, physical and mental strain on women. Especially in Asia, women have domestic responsibilities before and after working hours. To ease this issue of accountability, Nguyen says that businesses need to understand the morality of being legally compliant in order to allow women to have a life of their own. Nevertheless, when a company as powerful as Nike supports an idea, it is good for general awareness as much as it is good for publicity. The big motions for social justice may instill a better sense of morality amongst suppliers and consumers, in hopes of better livelihoods for women around the world. An example of this is Nike’s manufacturing map, which shows that Vietnam remains the top producer of Nike products. This map exists to improve transparency by including factors such as amount of employees, as well as percentage of female workers

and of migrant workers. However, this map leaves out details about wages, which is critical as these factories have very high percentages of female workers working for living wages. If multi-million dollar companies like Nike truly believe in female empowerment, then it is only justified that they sacrifice profit. Just as Kaepernick’s advertisement so boldly states, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

this entire system ... tends to forgo the basic human rights ..., meaning that women are primarily affected financially and physically —chau nguyen, 22

The Inter-Korean Summit: an op-ed on the current relations between North and South Korea

germans themselves wanted to reunify, and we let them do it. there’s no reason why we can’t see that take place again... let the korean people decide the course of their history —robert bledsoe LiNKtern Sung, an engagement intern at the nonprofit organization Liberty in North Korea. LiNK’s mission focuses on the humanitarian rights crisis within North Korea but also focuses on accelerating the change that is already taking place within


the Korean peninsula. Like Bledsoe, Sung believes that freedom will come to North Korea within our lifetime as a grassroots movement, rather than relying on politics to solve problems. Sung discussed how the inter-Korea summit was looked down on by many South Koreans, as historically these meetings have only resulted in money funneled toward the North Korean government. I asked Sung if there were any differences in how Korean Americans versus South Koreans might see the possibility of reunification, and if that were to affect progress toward it. Sung said that LiNK had no stance on reunification rather focused on working alongside the North Korean people to bring focus back onto their struggles of being accepted in their societies. When I asked how else we could help bring awareness to this issue, Sung was resigned. “Let’s face it, you and I are regular people, we are not involved in high politics,” Sung said. “What we can do as regular people is just talk about the regular people, instead of focusing on what the media is trying to tell us all the time,” Sung said.

design/Ann Dang

considered progress at all. In an interview with University of Central Florida political science professor Robert Bledsoe, I asked him how current denuclearization efforts could affect the possibilities of reunification. “I think that, in my perspective, everybody’s concern about the nuclear weapons might lose sight of what historically might be more important,” Bledsoe said. “I think that with the United States, what we need to do is step aside and give the leaders of both halves of Korea an opportunity to forge their own destiny.” Bledsoe made it clear that reunification was definitely a possibility citing historical examples like the reunification of East and West Germany. “Germans themselves wanted to reunify, and we let them do it,” There’s no reason why we can’t see that take place again … let the Korean people decide the course of their history.” In another interview, I approached

by Adrian Lee


risply dressed in a dark blue suit, President Moon Jae-In descends from his plane, accompanied by his sharply dressed wife. Together they approach one of the most controversial figures of our time, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un. The two leaders firmly embraced amongst cheers from a brightly colored crowd. A boy and girl dressed in their school uniforms hand the president and his wife a bouquet of flowers. It’s the third installment of the 2018 Inter-Korean summit where – paralleling the summits of the early 2000s – the two leaders met on North Korean soil. During a visit to one of North Korea’s most sacred volcano sites, they took one of the most iconic photos of the year with President Moon and Supreme Leader Kim raising their clasped hands in triumph as their wives stand next to them clapping. It’s a perfect picture showcasing unity and and hope for change in the development of inter-Korean relations. As someone who grew up listening to stories of the Korean War, I was definitely intrigued by the possibility of reunification. I followed stories, watched news broadcasts and talked to my family about the potential for such an event and its ramifications. My parents who left South Korea in the 70s were somewhat pessimistic about it – they often told me not to get my hopes up. Even with President Trump’s denuclearization efforts, my parents warned me that nothing was really happening to alleviate the situation claiming instead Trump was set to failure. However, with these recent developments in America’s involvement with the North Korea, I set about trying to understand what exactly was driving this sudden progress – if it could even be

While the Inter-Korean Summits initiated dialogue about the North Korean crisis, ultimately change will not occur without initiative from the Korean people themselves. When we consider the role of America in all of this, we must be able to step back and allow the Korean people to set their own direction to progress. We must allow voices from both sides to be heard without overpowering it with ours if we truly wish to see this change within our lifetime.

fall 2018| 27

Out of the Bamboo Basket How dim sum gives us an inside look at Chinese culture

“All the chefs are from China, and a lot of Chinese people just go there to eat because that’s the one authentic Chinese restaurant down in South Florida,” Luo said.

28 | fall 2018

When Luo lived in Shenzhen, she would eat dim sum with her family for breakfast. During the Lunar New Year, in particular, it was common to go out for dim sum because it was a way to catch up with family.

Luo’s experience mirrors some of the insight that Dr. Schueller shared on the topic of culture and food.

An integral part of Chinese culture and encompassing so many different foods, Dim sum captured the interest of American consumers. With this interest came new manners of thinking of not only a single Chinese dish, but of the Chinese culture.

“Food becomes an easy way to say ‘I really understand the culture, and I am so accepting’,” Schueller said.

Luo has slowly realized that American social expectations and dining styles are very different to those of China. Americans typically eat in what Luo calls “family style” where each person at the table gets their own individual dish. For Chinese families, this is different. “When you eat in China, no one is going to do that. No one is going to wait

Malini Johar Schueller, director and professor of Asian American Studies at design/ashley somchanhmavong

Whenever Luo gets homesick, she finds that food acts as the bridge back to home. Working part time at an authentic Sichuan restaurant, Luo felt that her job connects her to her Chinese heritage.

the University of Florida, said mainstream culture can consume the exoticism of Asian cultures in both innocent and problematic ways.

photography/photo editing/sofia zheng

Luo, an 18 year-old, first-year engineering major at the University of Florida, moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. She and her mother made the journey from Shenzhen, a bustling city in southeast China.

Dim sum, a type of Chinese cuisine originating in Guangzhou, China, consists of many small dishes such as steamed dumplings, steamed pork buns and chicken feet. Each dish is typically served in woven bamboo baskets and shared with everyone at the table.

by emma ross


t 10 years old, Mini Luo’s small sneakers scratched the pavement, as she dragged her feet. People around her talked, but nothing made sense. The signs she saw on her way home were just as confusing. A whirlwind of nerves and loneliness plagued her since her move to the United States. She felt trapped, but the sudden smell of dim sum filled her with a sense of warmth and belonging. For a mere second, she was home.

no one is going to wait for all the food to be ready because sharing is a big part of chinese food culture —mini luo, 18

Anson Tam, a 19 year-old third-year microbiology major at the University of Florida, also made the long trip from China to the United States. Tam and her family moved from Hong Kong when she was nine years old. Although sad to leave friends and family behind, Tam said that she was excited for the weather and a new beginning.

for all the food to be ready because sharing is a big part of Chinese food culture,” Luo said. This different style of eating is very prominent in dim sum, as each small dish is shared. The tables at dim sum restaurants are set up to have a spinning center specifically for this part of Chinese culture.

“It’s not so much the friends that I miss … it’s the atmosphere and the places in Hong Kong that I tend to miss,” Tam said. What smells foreign to some smells like home to Tam, who said her mother’s cooking helps her cope with homesickness. “It feels like she’s there and comforting me,” Tam said.

Cynthia Koo owns an online store, WontoninAMillion, that specializes in cartoon dim sum-themed stationery. She chose dim sum dishes in particular because her father, Kwok Chik Koo, has worked at Oriental Garden, a dim sum restaurant in New York City, since he moved to the U.S. in the 1980s. The store is a way for her to share her culture. Koo’s aim is to introduce people to dim sum through her illustrated characters. Many people have said it was her shop that led to their first dim sum experiences. “For them, the characters they encounter through me are a way to familiarize themselves with the cuisine they otherwise would not have tried,” Koo said. This is the reason why Koo believes food is an important doorway into understanding a new culture. It is a way to teach others about Chinese family rituals, traditions and beliefs. Koo has also experienced this tie between homesickness and food because many of her peers do not live with their parents or caretakers. For them, there is a sense of nostalgia tied to dim sum.

Luo and Tam both find it obvious when dim sum in the United States is inauthentic. Tam states that one giveaway is the ingredients used in certain foods. For example, spring rolls, one of many dim sum dishes, are traditionally made with pork or shrimp. In the United States, spring rolls are typically made with chicken. Tam said it is just a way to cater to Americans’ tastes, and it encourages them to try new foods. At the most basic level, people can learn the social norms of Chinese culture through dim sum. As Luo said, sharing food is a common part of dining culture and having personal, individual dishes deviates from this cultural practice. But on a deeper level, the values of Chinese culture are mirrored too. Sharing this meal with close friends and family shows how Chinese people hold their close relationships in high regard. Chinese people tend to think and behave in terms of the collective whole or collective culture. As an intimate yet simply delicious meal, dim sum invites people from all walks of life to learn not only from its taste but from its intriguing familial value.

For Asian Americans, food is a way to hold on to their culture, as it is an important part of their identity. Dim sum acts as one of these links for many Chinese Americans.

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Unveiling Discrimination A personal essay on what it means to wear the hijab

30 | fall 2018

I can separate the most negative reactions into two categories: people who manifest sympathy for the “oppressed woman under the veil” and irrevocably angry supremacists. The judgements we received were products of misunderstanding, all drawn simply from a

Often unjustifiable situations demonstrating abuse of power arise from ordinary experiences. Visiting pools and beaches sporting oversized tees and leggings rather than a traditional bathing suit often provokes negative reactions. Our family has been escorted out of pools numerous times. As of late, I find that I am not alone in the dress code violation rut that is my life. My friends and family members have shared stories of being excluded from physical education class for not dressing into shorts or having to double layer with leggings underneath rather wear sweats or capri pants. The additional layer may cause excessive heating of the body. Due to religious restrictions a muslimah may prefer


design / ash alonzo

While I understood my mother’s analogy and wishes, it was difficult fighting the urge to conform to American standards. Many Americans are afraid of unfamiliar customs. With the rise of

When I was seven years old, my mother began wearing hijab, a short five years after the tragedy that is 9/11. I immediately began to notice the strange paradox of religion. Religious people are commended for representing their faith only when they represent western faiths. Leaving our home and performing ordinary activities began to feel like an inconvenience due to questioning gazes and discomfort of the people around us.

garment. I like to refer to these situations as being “dress coded”, a term used by authorities toward students or in the workplace. However, for us being dress coded is not limited to these scenarios.

photography / ambar simpang

My mother described dressing modestly as a rite of passage. When I began menstruating, she bought me a new wardrobe filled with dresses, slacks and longer tops. She explained to me that my body was a precious gift from God that deserved to be adorned with garments and treated with respect – covered like a sweet fruit and protected from unwanted flies.

terrorism and the political tension in the air, it isn’t surprising. I began feeling uneasy with myself, wondering if the way I dressed caused others to feel unsafe.

by samia alamgir


hey say the first thing people notice about you is your appearance, so religious clothing can stand out significantly in social settings. Muslim women uniformly wear long garments – usually from their wrists to their ankles – to cover their bodies, As a Muslimah or Muslim woman, I fulfill this standard daily.

to change in the privacy of a restroom stall and require extra time to dress in and out, especially when they are required to wear extra bottoms. However, many schools penalize those who require this additional time.

her hijab was a “safety concern”. He refused to referee if she was allowed to play. As no other referee was present, 16-year-old Iman was forced to watch her friends play without her.

The hijab is an important symbol in Islam, often described as a crown signifying a Muslim woman’s identity. It represents modesty and is a reminder of the faith you put toward God. Although Muslim women value their hijab, it is causing major controversy in the U.S. Critics feel that religious clothing is causing a divide between Americans and is therefore not American.

“I played soccer for ten years, and for most of those years I played in hijab,” Khalil-Fariel said. Her story caused outrage in her community. Iman later found that no soccer rules list hijab as a concern for safety.

I have always admired the hijab but never had the courage to adopt it. Unfortunately, the label of terrorism and extremism continues to exist in media and politics. Many Muslims have stories of discrimination which arise from conflicting with typical American fashion. Nusrat Mansoor, a lawyer based in West Palm Beach, recalled when she was interrogated and discriminated because of her hijab “I remember sitting and being confronted about my scarf, the interviewer asked me ‘are you always dressed like... that’, he then mentioned some off his clients may not like the way I dressed and dismissed me. At first I was upset, but I knew I wouldn’t want to work with a person like that anyways,” Mansoor said. Iman Khalil-Fariel was a hijabi soccer player who experienced discrimination in her sophomore year of high school. As a part of the soccer team she often traveled to play in a tournaments. Undergoing standard check-ins in Palm Harbor before a tournament , she was confronted by a referee who denied her the chance to play, arguing

“I had to go through it to grow and further blossom as person. Sometimes you take one step back to take three step forwards,” Khalil-Fariel said.

I remember sitting and being confronted about my scarf ... At first I was upset but I knew I wouldn’t want to work with a person like that anyways —Nusrat Mansoor, 33

The way people perceive you is only skin deep, but the experiences that derive from your skin can tremendously shape your character. Asian Americans experience discrimination everyday because of their appearance. The United States of America is a country founded on the desire for religious freedom, and I hope to see our country someday evolve into a land where religion can facilitate acceptance rather than conflict. To wrap your hair, many would use a bow, but I challenge critics to accept using a scarf.

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The Beloved Balikbayan Box A Filipino care package tradition bridges the gap between home and living abroad

“When I saw my cousin in the dress, I was shocked at first, but seeing her happy made me happy, and it felt like I made a deeper connection with her, knowing we shared something during our celebrations,” Lua said. “It was kinda just like a sign for our families that says, ‘Hey, we are here and care for you.’”

The Balikbayan box evolves from a Filipino custom called “pasalubong,” whereby Filipinos brought souvenirs to their families after coming back to the Philippines. The Balikbayan box industry has generated a revenue of $5 billion in the United States, according to Approved Freight Forwarders, a shipping company that includes Balikbayan box shipping options. The box provides significant benefits for Filipino workers on an industrial and personal level. In terms of industry, Filipino workers abroad make a significant contribution to the economy in the Philippines through the boxes. Balikbayan boxes are typically sent around Christmas time because it is a major family holiday in the

32 | fall 2018

it felt like I made a deeper connection with her, knowing we shared something during our celebrations —jan lua cause they are too expensive to purchase there. Lorelie Imperial, a graduate student studying science education at the University of Florida, typically sends children’s clothes and Nike shoes to her many nieces and nephews in the Philippines. Christiana Pilapio, the owner of Christy’s Oriental Store in Ocala, sends Balikbayan boxes to others in her community. “The boxes are like a phone ... you can give your family something from you; you can make them happy by having them get something from you,” Pilapio said. As a result of Pilapio’s work, people can send Balikbayan boxes to their families without having to find a center that

The Balikbayan box has a special personal significance to both Filipino workers and nonworkers, as it presents a good way for families to connect. Imperial has a different perspective on the meaning of the box. She used to receive the boxes before sending them when she came to America. “[My perspective] didn’t change really, even when I was the one sending; it was gifts that I got,” Imperial said. Christian Pineda, a fourth-year statistics major at the University of Florida, has a different take on what the Balikbayan box means to him. “This box at first never meant anything. As a kid, I thought of it as just a recycling bin, where I don’t want to play with my old toys and old clothes I couldn’t fit in,” Pineda said. Now, Pineda knows that the clothes that she puts in the box will allow his extended family to wear different clothes. The Balikbayan Box not only spreads love among Filipino families but also symbolizes generosity and familial values in Filipino culture that will go on for generations to come. The Balikbayan box holds a unique meaning for each party involved in its creation. What may seem like a simple box of goods is actually a gift that keeps on giving, teaching and sharing love with family members all across the globe.

illustration/ ingrid wu

Sending Balikbayan boxes is a custom in which families living in the United States send boxes compiled with various gifts to their families living in the Philippines. This exemplifies the sharing tradition that is key to the Filipino culture.

Items that are sent in the boxes include small kitchen appliances, candies and clothing. These objects are cheaper to buy and send from the United States because such items are considered luxury items in the Philippines. Families will also request specific items in their boxes because they are not available in the Philippines or be-

ships them. Pilapio unites her community through the boxes.

design/ josh nikolas bronto

On her cousin’s seventh birthday, Lua saw her cousin wearing the exact same dress.

Philippines. However, each sender is allowed to send a box up to three times per year. The process for sending a Balikbayan box is about 30 to 45 days, and the boxes do not have a weight limit when they are sent.

by hasin sharma


n Jan Lua’s seventh birthday, she wore a purple, pink and blue ball gown. Lua, now a senior criminal justice student at the University of Central Florida, remembered feeling beautiful in that dress. The poofy skirt, layered thick with colorful fabric and a pretty rose in the middle of her neckline, made her feel like royalty.

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Nushrat Nur Power Moves

Rising activist Nushrat Nur discusses how activisim shapes her world


to have pride in her culture as a Muslim American. Nur’s father discussed social and political issues with her as young as age six even if she did not completely understand them.

But the moment didn’t last.

“My family has always influenced me in every aspect of my life from my religion to how I viewed myself as a person and how I approach the world,” Nur said. “They’ve instilled a lot of really good things in me in terms of making sure … I tried to be as selfless as I possibly could.”

A security guard stopped them, took her father’s passport and placed them into customs, forcing them to miss their connecting flight back home to Orlando from New York. “I just looked around customs, and I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of us in here and almost none of us are white,’” Nur said.

Over the past year, the 20 year-old, UF journalism junior has participated in activist events and rallies such as protesting Richard Spencer’s appearance at UF.

Nur grew up in a Bangladeshi American family raised with the traditions of two cultures. Her parents taught her how to see the best in people and

34 | fall 2018

“I was always aware of these kinds of things happening, Nur said. “I think that was a little bit more of a slap in the face about the reality of living in a country that still oppresses a large proportion of its citizens,” Nur said. Last year, Nur was the social justice

Model: Nushrat Nur, 3rd year Journalism Major on the Pre-Med Track

we’re kind of forced to be vocal about these things … it’s kind of inherent in just our existence. Just us living and existing is kind of revolutionary in and of itself

design/olivia chen

“As a woman of color, we’re kind of forced to be vocal about these things … it’s kind of inherent in just our existence,” Nur said. “Just us living and existing is kind of revolutionary in and of itself.”

While she takes great pride in her work with The Tempest, her greatest pride is in her work as the external vice president of the Gators for Refugee Medical Relief (GRMR). Growing up, Nur said she overheard her family’s problems with health insurance. GRMR highlighted her particular inter-

photography/cindy chen

Experiences like this have influenced her budding activism, she said.

As Nur learned more about the world around her, she could not make sense of the injustices in the world and how people treated those they considered beneath them. Nur said she was particularly affected by the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting in 2014 during which a young black man, Michael Brown, was killed by a police officer. When she heard about the shooting in high school, she experienced the online and cultural shifts toward social consciousness catalyzed by these events. It motivated her to get more involved.

editor for The Tempest, a digital media and technology company focused on women of diverse backgrounds. This year, she stepped down in order to focus on other responsibilities, but she remains a staff writer. She has written articles about Richard Spencer’s appearance at UF and net neutrality. Her most recent article asserts that, in spite of the political and environmental turmoil that characterized 2017, “humanitarianism, empathy and raw resilience make life worth living.”

by nazli islam

or the first time, Nushrat Nur and her father thought they had made it through John F. Kennedy’s airport security without anyone taking a second glance at them.

est in health activism. “I remember growing up and them talking about the complications of just getting healthcare and that being completely bizarre to me as a kid and being like, ‘You have to save and pay insane sums of money to make sure you don’t die?’” Nur said. “It just didn’t make sense.” Health activism combined her two areas of interest: medicine and activism. With GRMR, Nur has fundraised and directly assisted refugees coming to the United States from war-torn regions. As part of GRMR, Nur mentioned its partnership with another UF organization, Generational Relief in Prosthetics, which delivered a prosthetic hand to refugees they tutor in Jacksonville. Her work with GRMR ties in with what she wants to do in the future. Health activism is an area she perceives as very underrepresented. The main areas of her concern with health activism involve equal access to health care, regardless of socioeconomic status or race, and increased health literacy. Right now, she is organizing an international aid trip that will hopefully happen next year.

Joachim, who has known her for three years, drew inspiration from her passion.

ed,” Cambell said. “I think that really speaks to her need to make a change and make the world a better place.”

“Just knowing that people like her exist make me want to do the work that is required of me,” Joachim said.

In the future, Nur hopes to work internationally and set up free clinics in emergency areas that need relief in order to increase health literacy in underserved regions. For people to be able to stand up for themselves, they need to be aware of what they are entitled to and what their rights are, Nur said.

Shericia Campbell, a third-year biology major at Virginia State University, went to high school with Nur. Campbell remembered the time Nur helped organize a 9/11 vigil where she gave a speech that moved her “So many people I’m around just go with the flow and don’t really make an effort about their surroundings, but not Nushrat. She’s very motivat-

“It’s just generally important to put power to the people. We don’t want to rely on systems that have always been against us,” Nur said. “Put power back in our own hands.”

we don’t want to rely on systems that have always been against us. Put power back in our own hands

“It’s one thing to get treated, but you have to understand why you’re getting treated. And to know what you can have is really powerful, because then you can demand it,” Nur said. Nur said that being part of a group of driven people who want to genuinely find concrete, direct ways to help refugees touched her heart. Many of her close friends like Annelelia

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D i s t a n t Dividends With no place to call home, migrant workers are perpetual wanderers leaving everything behind — family, friends and belongings — to work in another country. This is the life of a migrant worker.

Migrant workers like Cruz leave a permanent residency to seek work for higher pay. They have a nomadic lifestyle – crossing geographic boundaries to seek financial stability. In exchange for their work, migrant workers get paid in cash, opposed to typical channels of salary.

36 | fall 2018


Since the first wave of migrants, agricultural work remains a popular choice for migrant workers. Migrant farmworkers find work based on the season, so they must seek multiple jobs to fill time during the off season. Moreover, it’s tough competition to find jobs

design/ allyson martinez

“Life is hard not seeing the family I dreamed of being with,” Cruz said. “However, as a father, it’s my duty to make sure my children and wife are able to maintain a stable life.”

The Center for Migrant Advocacy said the first recorded Filipino migration took place in 1417 when Filipinos aimed to improve trade relations with China, but now research records four waves of Filipino migration. The first wave took place under Spanish rule in the 18th century during which citizens from the Philippine capital, Manila immigrated to Mexico to maintain trade relations. Other Filipinos established a settlement in Louisiana or worked as fruit pickers in California. The second wave occurred between 1906 and 1934 when more than 100,000 workers migrated to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations. Because of heightened immigration restrictions in the United States, the third wave following WWII led many Filipino migrant workers to find technical and engineering work in Iran and Iraq. Fourth wave migrant workers comprise of presentday workers who may have left the Philippines under Ferdinand Marco’s presidency. Commonly these Filipinos of this wave may find jobs in domestic work and nursing, Present-day Filipino workers are part of what is considered the fourth wave of migrant workers.

Migrant workers must apply for a green card for employment by filling out a documentation form, Form I-485. This form allows register permanent residence or adjust the legal status of anyone immigrating to the United States. Migrant and immigrant workers use these forms in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status. Along with the form, they are required to submit a birth certificate, government-issued identity document with a photograph, and additional documentation based on their length of residency in the country. If reapplying, they need proof of lawful status since they arrived in the United States. On top of these requirements, the processing all of the documentation can take up to four years.

photography/ david chan

Out of two million migrant workers in the U.S., Filipino worker, Miguel Cruz*, has been working on a farm in California for three years now. Since his job is mostly seasonal, he works two jobs to support his family. His work allows him to providing housing, food and basic necessities but he rarely sees his wife and two sons because of location and transportation costs.


by david park



in the United States. Migrant workers compete against other skilled workers within the same field. Some workers are required to provide proof of hire after being accepted to work in the United States. Today, nearly two million Filipino migrants have overcome the obstacle of documentation and are working in America.


Access to healthcare proves to be one of their biggest struggles in addition to language, cultural and transportation barriers. The Migrant Clinicians Network said they can apply for health care access with proper documentation; however, the enrollment process is extensive and complicated. Living conditions are also another obstacle. Many do not receive proper housing that is pesticide-free, with safe heating, clean water, electricity, general space and sanitation. Because of these insufficient resources, food can be a problem due to lack of cooking facilities, storage and lack of transportation. It is estimated that many migrant households are food insecure. They can experience a variety of health injuries including musculoskeletal strains, lacerations, falls and trauma. If they aren’t covered with health insurance, proper transportation or housing, many must endure these living conditions just to support their family from afar.


The average amount of money sent to their families back home is around $300 to $400 a month. It may not be much income to many families in the United States today. However, a few hundred dollars tends to be 60 percent or more of the average family’s income in the Philippines. A few hundred dollars can cover a family’s housing, food, and basic needs of clean water and power. “It’s all worth it when you do it for the ones you love,” Cruz said.

life is hard not seeing the family I dreamed of being with —miguel cruz*


While the outlook may seem somber, many organizations offer support and resources for struggling migrant workers. Organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Gainesville Interfaith Alliance For Immigrant Justice provide volunteer opportunities and create initiatives to support the migrant community. *Disclaimer: Name changed in interest of the source’s safety.

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We Are Here Understanding the journey of immigrant teachers in the United States


t’s been 22 years, but Lei Zhang still remembers the first time he came from China to teach as a teacher’s assistant.

“When I first came to this country, I became so nervous teaching in the classroom because of the language barrier,” Zhang said. Zhang, a grader at the time, said he was surprised at the stark differences between the work assigned to American students and Chinese students. Accustomed to

If those educators were removed from the system, schools would be in dire trouble, the report said. However, many foreign educators are still burdened with unaddressed challenges of sociocultural shock.

After meeting many American-born colleagues who continually work on improving their communication skills despite knowing English as their first language, Zhang made great efforts to improve his English. This has been especially true with the many Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) immigrants currently employed by U.S. schools. Sujata Krishna, a UF professor of physics originally from India, said it brought her new experiences. It was the first time she was teaching large classes of 700 students. It was a big moment for her to meet that challenge, she said. Krishna also compared the American edu-

38This | fall 2018 story is by THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

design/karen yung + ingrid wu

International educators have become increasingly prevalent in recent years because of national teacher shortages. In 2017, the Brookings Institution released a report that said eight percent of American teachers were born abroad, although the actual number is likely greater than that.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome that language barrier. Personal motivation to learn, study and practice the local language is important for the success of immigrant professors. Students can also meet teachers halfway by helping new educators grow accustomed to their environment.

photography/ kylee gates

stricter instructions, Zhang had an experience similar to many foreign educators.

He said Western teaching is more difficult to follow because students think in egalitarian terms and do not view teachers in high regard. Hutchison also said that while many international teachers are able to learn English fluently, they are stumped by American colloquialisms.

by kaylyn ling

i think the reason that the United States is so strong ... is because they have a lot of very intelligent immigrants from other countries —lei zhang

“There is a lot of unspoken pain among immigrant professors and teachers,” Charles Hutchinson, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina, said. Originally from Ghana, Hutchinson wrote a book on the experience of immigrant professors, combining research with reflections upon his own experience as an international faculty member.

cation system with the Indian and British systems that she grew up with, focusing on the subtle differences between each program such as an American tendency to aim for a perfect grade. Krishna said one of the biggest things in America is diversity. “I used to teach in Houston, and that’s one of the most diverse places in the U.S.,” Krishna said. “I think students need to see people who are from a wide variety of backgrounds.” Krishna explained that having a diverse body of teachers allows students to learn from a varied set of role models. It produces an effect in which students in a minority — ethnic, gender-related or otherwise — are inspired by people with success in their field interest. One challenge Krishna faced was the lack of effort from employers to help foreign faculty. She praised colleagues for their helpfulness but suggested that institutions create mentor programs for incoming international faculty. This means pairing first-time foreign teachers with domestic educators to foster professional and personal relationships within the workplace. International faculty members face a lack of institutional awareness, as universities don’t offer orientations or workshops to help immigrant teachers integrate and adjust. Hutchison said that employers should be made aware of the immigrant teacher struggle branching across social, cultural and pedagogical obstacles. “You may view yourself as a failure when you are dealing with normal challenges that come with the process of being an immigrant in a new space,” Hutchison said. Moreover, the presence of immigrant teachers benefits international students. Hutchison, who once taught high school students from South Korea, said that foreign students found a place of comfort in his classroom because they found another immigrant with whom they could relate.

the greatest educators and people [are] those who are able to open their minds to new ideas and the world around them —millie vanto

Zhang said the United States’ strength is derived from its cultural diversity. “I think the reason that the United States is so strong — a powerhouse in the world — is because they have a lot of very intelligent immigrants from other countries.” Zhang said. To Zhang, it is clear that immigrants are one of America’s strongest assets, rather than a weakness. “We all know the difference between a good doctor and a bad doctor. A bad doctor can kill you! But there is also a tremendous difference between a good professor and a bad professor,” Zhang said. “If you keep taking very high-quality people from other countries, then the overall teaching quality [in the U.S.] can improve.” While acknowledging the benefits of international perspectives in the classroom, Zhang also said that at the end of the day, there shouldn’t be a huge line drawn between international and domestic faculty because it borders on discrimination. “I’m cautious [about being labeled as an international teacher],” Zhang said. “As long as you are employed by the University of Florida, you are a University of Florida professor.”

Kacey Huynh, an international studies major at the University of Florida, has had multiple professors with foreign backgrounds. Huynh, who is of Vietnamese heritage, said her Vietnamese professor used her background to enrich her teaching. “In a way, [my professor] did help culturally. You could relate to her, and things that she said might not have made sense from someone who didn’t grow up Vietnamese,” Huynh said. “Participate in class,” Huynh said. “Be polite; make them feel like they’re part of the school.” Millie Vanto, a second-year elementary education major at UF, said it’s easier to teach about racism and other cultures with younger kids because of their brain plasticity; it’s better to hear from someone who is from a different culture than the students. “The greatest educators and people [are] those who are able to open their minds to new ideas and the world around them,” Vanto said.

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university of florida


ASIAN AMERICAN STUDENT UNION at the University of Florida ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER AMERICAN AFFAIRS at the University of Florida University of Florida STUDENT GOVERNMENT

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