2016 APIA Affairs Anthology

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DUALITY APIA AFFAIRS ANTHOLOGY VOLUME 4 2016 University of Florida


Experience life in all possible ways -- goodbad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.

- Osho


The 2015-2016 APIA Affairs Staff would like to dedicate this anthology to Alexander Cena and Mona Brenda Sayedul-Huq. Thank you for everything.


ABOUT THE COVER

“We are almost always surrounded by buildings in which their architectural design is so often a reflection of humanity’s constantly morphing culture. However, as much as culture changes, we still use our past as inspiration to build a new future. Through this design I wanted to show how traditional values can harmoniously exist alongside a non-conventional, modern value system. This theme of balance and duality isn’t just seen in the design of buildings but in every aspect of our environment. How we affect this environment is up to us as people to decide, whether you are pulled towards more accustomed ideals, contemporary ones or a hybridization from opposite sides of the spectrum.” - Jamie Liu Cover Artist


As a mixed-race child growing up in the United States, I always felt like an outcast. When I visited my father’s family, I felt as though I was never Asian enough. When I visited my mother’s family, I was never seen as Latina. When I was at school, my ambiguous physical features made my peers have to ask the alienating question: “What are you?” I felt as though I did not belong in either of my ethnicities, and that having two different ethnic background somehow made me less of a human. Living in this uncomfortable dual identity, I was extremely shy and quiet in school. Eventually, I found my voice through poetry, and was able to use this outlet to express the challenges I dealt with on a daily basis. The more I gave myself the space to write, the more I was able to see the talent and beauty within my mind. I slowly grew more confident with myself and the dual nature of my identities. Through this anthology, I hope to provide a safe and creative outlet for other Asian Pacific Islander Americans to share their own struggles with dual realities, and to feel a sense of belonging within this community. Join me, as we find a balance among the dualities of our lives.

Sincerely, Elizabeth “DeeDee” Barrido

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Dear Reader,


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TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 EPIC

Alexander Cena

3 IMMIGRANTS

Kai Su

4 SCORNED

Jay Jordan Uy

5 UNTITLED

Korinna Abejuela

6 WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Chan Naing

7 CROSSROADS

Narayan Kulkarni

8 MICRO TO MACRO

Jamie Ann Mortel

9 #WORSHIP

Shimul Chowdhury

10 A TOURIST DESTINATION Othelia Jumapao 11 PERCEPTION

Kristine Chen

12 COLLEGIATE PASSION

Tara Chang

13 THE BALLAD OF OSMANTHUS, BALM, AND LANTANA CAMARA

Tien Tran


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14 RED PANDA

Monica Alvarez

15 HOME

Rebekah Kim

16 BLOOM

Alicia Soller

17 THE THREE CLANS

Leonie Barkakati

18 UNTITLED

Lucy Geer

19 AWOKEN BY A SPIRIT

Minh-Tam Le

20 DANCING LIGHT

Anika Hakim

21 SHADES OF GRAY

Anika Hakim

22 THE STORY OF THE STONE Tien Tran 23 ECLIPSE

Edward Wu

24 UNTITLED

Jenny Trang

25 THE RIGHT THING TO DO Marcus Degnan 28 ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

32 APIA AFFAIRS HIGHLIGHTS


CREATIVE WORKS

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EPIC

Alex Cena Poem

When I am with my Lola, I always feels as if there are two worlds in the room. There are two histories both different and similar. She reminds me of a legacy that I often feel disconnected from. She is the bridge between what has been and what will be.

I was told that I could find culture inside of a poem. Through stanzas the scent of my Lola’s prayers And courage cascading in a cadence, Her smile is A couplet written in a language I barely understand She tells me “Every moment is an epic kind of beautiful and You, Anak, are an epic kind of beautiful.” I reply as I often do “Lola I don’t know what any of that means.” With the weight of history in her breath And patience disguised as valor too difficult to translate, She tells me Anak you are my psalm I have watched you become the forgotten language of Rizal, A spoken word on soap box. You are the dreams born from the oppressed, refugee, and traveler And should you speak with old souls Remind us of The anger in Bonafacio’s bolo The forgiveness in Bataan’s tears Give me the precept and epilogue My morning prayers and eulogy. An epic tale. Anak, you are born from my bravest moments A memory translated into song, because You have a name as powerful as an anthem. So remember to speak for me when I am gone And remember when I was an epic kind of beautiful too.

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IMMIGRANTS Kai Su Poem

This poem is about the duality of sentiment involved when taking a risk. In the face of uncertainty we often feel conflicting emotions -- excitement at the possibilities, fear at the chance of failure. This duality is what makes the risk worth taking.

Their heavy-lidded eyes, bleary from two days of travel, drank in the glow of light bleeding up from the horizon. The exhaustion arrested their excitement and blunted their nerves. Ambivalence settled heavily in the pits of their stomachs. Uncertain of this foreign land and thousands of miles from home— tomorrow would be their son’s first birthday. How many more birthdays would be missed? How many lost teeth, first steps, first days of school? But surely this future held more promise than the one abandoned for The American Dream. It felt like a dream… By now the sky was saturated with hues of rose and copper. Daylight poked through the gauzy mist. They descended the narrow airplane steps, blind faces to the sun.

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SCORNED

Jay Jordan Uy Painting

The person of Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully God according to the Christian faith. This is a crucial belief Christians hold. In my painting, I attempt to capture this dual nature. In his beard, you’ll notice a spacey theme. This symbolizes Jesus’ divine nature for God is all-knowing and omnipresent. The vast and unknown often invoke a sense of awe and fear. At the same time, most people’s eyes are drawn to the crown of thorns first or the bright red contrasting the dark blue. This represents Jesus’ human nature that he did, indeed, suffer and even died on the cross in order to satisfy the wrath of God. The implications of the dual nature of Jesus Christ are many.

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UNTITLED Korinna Abejuela Poem

Often times, there is “duality” when comparing what you are to who you are. I “am” flesh. I am “great”. There shouldn’t be a disparity between them because as flesh - as a student - you are great.

Student flesh on bone Struggling, living, becoming Transformed to greatness

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WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Chan Naing Digital Art

I was about three years old when I moved from Yangon, Myanmar to Las Vegas, Nevada. By the time I entered elementary school at five, my English was considered good enough to bypass ESOL classes. At twenty-two, I’m conversational (though far from fluent) in Japanese living in Hokkaido, Japan. Myanmar names do not take paternal lineage. My middle name in English consists of my last name given at birth. The name on my Japanese residence card is so long that I couldn’t input my bank information when I applied for my first credit card. None of them really feel right. People get upset that others mispronounce their (non-western) name, but truth be told, I’m not sure if I can pronounce my own. The accent changes with each writing system and I had to ask my mother to spell it out in Myanmar because I’m not literate in it. These changes in my name were not voluntary; rather necessary for residence in their respective countries. But they’ve strongly affected societal perceptions of me as well as my identity.

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CROSSROADS Narayan Kulkarni Poem

This theme reflects the element of choice that is involved in the duality of one’s identity. There are times when one may need to choose between one of three options, if they have a duality of identity. The person can choose to blend their identities together, or to compartmentalize one identity at the exclusion or loss of the other. The poem weighs the pros and cons involved in choosing between each of the three choices, as each has its benefits and drawbacks. The poem specifies the Asian American identity so as to be most relevant to this anthology and offer my personal perspectives, but the idea of choice or conflict in having choice can be applied elsewhere as well.

As I trek along the winding road of life, I reach an ominous crossroads. The one path that documents my past Meets three possibilities for my future. The boulevard of my past extends behind me, Etched with the footprints of my immigrant parents, Littered with the stereotypes casting me as the “Other,” But brightened by empowering Asian American peers. First, a highway towards a bright American future Pushing me to greater professional heights, Where I would achieve certain, conventional success, But with the risk of assimilating and forgetting my roots. The second, a street of exclusive focus on my Indian past Leading me to the homeland of the ancient rishis Where I would learn about my parents’ stories, But undo the difficult journey that they took forward. The third, an avenue that blends my Indian roots and American upbringing Guiding me further through my Asian American journey. Where I would continually craft my authentic self, But expose myself further to the othering that scarred my past. These four roads converges at my present, Into one crucial crossroads, A nexus of possibility that offers opportunity. But as the sun sets on one chapter of my life, I must now answer the quintessential question: Which path should I choose?

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MICRO TO MACRO

Jamie Ann Mortel Mixed Media

Progressing through the required courses for a Biology major, I learned more about the intricacies of the human body. With each new topic, I became more fascinated with how a seemingly endless amount of molecules and processes contributed to who we are as human beings. I dubbed this fascination “micro to macro� -- a duality where I am the complex science that I read in my textbooks, but I am also a personality, a driven being, a human who is uniquely me.

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#WORSHIP Shimul Chowdhury Video Screenshot

We experience the rapid advancement of technology every single day when we check our phones, snap a picture, update our status, etc. Social media and technology have changed the way we live so extensively that it is difficult to remember what it was like before we had everything so readily available to us. It is interesting to note just how far the reach of technological advances goes; even age old practices are now digitized and in turn, immortalized. When my father returned from his pilgrimage at Hajj a few months ago, one of the first things he did was show me the many photos and videos he took while there. I think he was trying to help me visualize the locations that he had described in his phone calls but what he didn’t realize was that his selfies obscured most of his surroundings. The videos and photos became more about him, his experience there, the proof that he was there, and the immortalization of this sacred pilgrimage for anyone to watch and experience right alongside him. The contrast of age-old worship and new age technology in this video are representative of the constant duality in our daily lives.

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A TOURIST DESTINATION Othelia Jumapao Poem

My poetry piece relates to Duality because it speaks to the experience of an Asian American international. It depicts an immigrant perspective on how one must reconcile their past life in their mother country and their new life in a foreign environment. The duality of “home” manifests itself in my poem. The herd of tourists swarm the floating buffet on the Lahog River, Bulky cameras and money belts— A ferry this length almost looks misplaced among the dugout canoes, steadily increasing speed While the hired singer serenades the foreigners Korean, Japanese, English He can perform for them all. Fumbling hands poise their cameras to capture the river tribe to their left, Engorged mouths gasp in wonderment as the boat docks at the encampment, Small boys stomp the ground in their grass skirts; Their headdresses do not fit them. A flurry of pointed fingers surrounds the twirling iguana tied to the boy hunter, The boy watcher squirms in his striped polo: Can’t he be shirtless too? The drums crescendo muddling the tribeswoman’s calls Selling her fresh coconut. A mother and son shed their cargo shorts and baseball caps Now, bedecked in tribal cloth The mother hefts a spear, the son a small bow and arrow. Her wrist quivers under the weight—yet her son jerks the arrow back. One. Two. Three. The chief expertly jabs the button for flash. “Next!” The line moves up for another family to replace them. As the ferry departs, the older boys swing off the rope tied to the branch Waving as if they would be waiting for their return.

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PERCEPTION

Kristine Chen Photography

There are two forms of people: outsider and insider. An outsider sees the image you want to portray. An insider sees the real you. The piece I have submitted shows the two different perspectives of a person; the reflection of what you want people to see, and the turmoil you internally struggle.

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COLLEGIATE PASSION Tara Chang Poem

The piece is about how passion is two sided. It’s something that grows and you are motivated by it. But sometimes it grows too strong and you forget to take care of yourself. Thus passion is a strong force that can be your growth and downfall.

The first time you walked in to a general body meeting It sparked something in you and a fire begins to grow Twenty, thirty, maybe even two hundred people like you Inspiring at first as a freshman and you want to do everything Make new mentors and friends from socials Treat yourself because it is your fuel through the day Maybe your grades would be better Taking practice exams instead of going to dance practice Burnout and you think you have insomnia Dismiss any anxiety and you are hit with shots of guilt Blame the change happening in you and around you Direct yourself towards a new light Sometimes you need to take a step back Restrain the wildfire before you are nothing but ashes Saying no until no really means no Reaffirm your values and beliefs

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THE BALLAD OF OSMANTHUS, BALM, AND LANTANA CAMARA Tien Tran Poem

My piece is about the false allure of beauty and initial attraction when contrasted with its backlash. There is also duality between the real and unreal and an unseen perfect match and an obviously mistaken one. The Chinese osmanthus’s natural fragrance allures the naive Viet balm. The palm goes to the flowery source to see beauty, avoiding the decay of the surrounding leaves, While the osmanthus can’t see past the rough edges, always trying to leave. Tired indeed is the dedicated, hardworking honest balm. Osmanthus cares not, choosing its opportune moments to be gone. The palm only receives further criticism when it questions why they’d let things go on. The osmanthus calls out the balm for drama while it continues to afflict trauma, Even though its mix of overbearing gracilinervis and confused Devilwood fuels its own drama. Dancing osmanthus sees not that it’s only skirted around drama with its dances of avoidance. Our friend balm now only seeks peace away from the dense. Good thing now it’s finally found the lantana camara with genuine features and good sense, Whose lethal beauty is a far cry from osmanthus’s petal-deep false attraction and inclination to voidance. The osmanthus had likened the balm to mugwort with corrupted roots, although its own roots are entrenched in thorns. The lantana camara lives vibrantly with no such falsity; the pure inner scent and passions of the balm it adores. So long be the unappreciative unexpectedly overly-prickly osmanthus. Lantana camara sees the balm through and through without making a single fuss.

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RED PANDA

Monica Alvarez Digital Painting

This piece is a study of the personality and characteristics of the red panda. The digital painting seeks to represent the simultaneously sweet and mischievous nature of the animal.

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HOME

Rebekah Kim Poem

My piece talks about how I feel like I belong in a country called Asian America. It’s a place that isn’t real, but is full of people with the same culture as mine: a mixed culture. Because I feel like I don’t have a home in America nor my “motherland” (South Korea), it shows that the duality of my identity affects my sense of belonging. Although I am both American and Korean, I don’t feel as if I belong in either of those categories. The category I belong in, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. This is the reality that (in my opinion) a lot of Asian Americans have to face.

Asian America… Not quite Asia… Not quite America. But Asian America. That’s my where my home is. It’s not on the map; It’s not a physical, geographical place. But it’s where I belong. It’s where my home is. Do I feel like an American? I should. I was born here. But I don’t. I don’t fit in. Do I feel like a Korean? I should. I am Korean. But I don’t. I don’t fit in. The place where I belong, The place where I fit in, The place I call home… Asian America… Doesn’t exist.

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BLOOM

Alicia Soller

Graphite Drawing

It feels ingrained in the American psyche that we as Asian Americans shrink ourselves. We are passive, contained, accommodating--a model minority. This piece challenges that notion and introduces duality and juxtaposition with the idea of growing outward with no inhibition--to bloom beautifully, dangerously, loudly (a line from one of my favorite poets, Rupi Kaur) into selfhood, separate from society’s impositions.

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THE THREE CLANS

Leonie Barkakati Painting

This is an abstract interpretation of how I view my family. The painting fits the theme of duality as a portrayal of a family dispersed throughout 3 continents, but still bound by common ancestry, language, and traditions. My family is a paradox of old and young, modern and ancient. Two regions of the earth lay claim to my heart, but it is still whole.

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UNTITLED Lucy Geer Poem

This piece is relevant to the theme Duality because it briefly explains a part of who I am and probably many people.

UF Alumna, Reading, learning, observing, Forever student.

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AWOKEN BY A SPIRIT Minh-Tam Le Poem

This piece illustrates an individual who has lost someone close to them. They want to let go, but first needs a foundation to start on. They wants to solidify in their mind the permanence of the loss and honor their love one’s existence, but is still lost in the void of grief. Essentially, they are stuck in the middle.�

I reached out for you, But you burst into dust And flew away with the wind I called your name But you left hollowness in the air I tried to smell your presence on the bed But you had washed the sheets How can I let go when you have left me nothing to hold onto? I am only a flower picked from the fertile ground by your warm hands And now as I wither I open my eyes to the sky to carve out your image in the sunlight Adieu, Buona sera. Ciao.

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DANCING LIGHT

Anika Hakim

Chalk Pastel, Acrylic Paint

This piece portrays three women in silhouette, contrasting drastically against the sunset behind them, all of them in various poses of classical dance. The duality exists in the nature of the women being shrouded in black, the viewer being unable to see anything but the bright, vibrant colors of the sunset. Very often it is women who are expected to be the very light in the lives of others, but this piece does the opposite, coloring the females in a black silhouette as they block the light instead.

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SHADES OF GRAY

Anika Hakim

Charcoal, Chalk Pastel

In the life we live, nothing is ever just black and white. This piece, done in a monochromatic theme of shades from white to black create a stark contrast of light and dark, forever moving back and forth between the two and representing duality as more of a spectrum than as opposites. As a woman, we are always in midst of choosing between things, family and career, personal and professional, etc. This makes the theme of duality especially prominent in female lives. Shades of Gray represents this battle.

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THE STORY OF THE STONE Tien Tran Poem

My piece revolves around the Chinese classic, The Story of the Stone, and it’s Buddhist theme of the false allures of wealth beauty in the tainted human world, all of which are a mere illusion. There is duality between the real and unreal, striving and letting go, and a belated perfect match and a drawn-out mistaken one. I am the Stone who holds lust of the mind for the temptations of the Red Dust. Scent enraptures me, yet also evades me, causing me to wonder what is Aroma, what is Musk? The Land of Illusion foretells the truth and untruth, and here I, the Dreamer Awaken, lie. Enlightenment belongs to the Original Mind, perhaps only closest within reach when one dies. The Precious Jade is tainted by beauty, forgetting time and time again its magical properties. In this luxurious world, it holds the contentment of the purer, fairer sex as its top priority. As time swirls around the dreaming Jade, it hurts most its dearest – the Crimson Pearl Flower. Faithful in this Dream of Red Chambers, the Stone is devoted until it awakens in the last hour. If only the Precious Jade had seen sooner it’s perfect match in the awaiting Precious Belt. It had let the unreal become real, slighting the truth that had long ago become non-truth.

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ECLIPSE

We appreciate the the things we see, but sometimes we take for granted the things we do not.

Edward Wu Photography

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UNTITLED Jenny Trang Poem

Many times, people view Asian Americans as not very strong and independent. However, I believe that it’s important that we don’t stereotype or label a group of people as having one distinct characteristic, rather a mix of everything.

Living my culture, I’m destined for something great, Bigger than myself.

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THE RIGHT THING TO DO Marcus Degnan Short Story

The concept of duality is an ever-haunting one within cultural expression of mixed race people. Because of the polarizing collisions our jumbled identities create, I believe we fantasize of simplistic binaries because of our inability to identity as such. The short story, “The Right Thing to Do,” demonstrates these thoughts through the cruelty I portrayed. In the daughter, we see how a simplistic concept of ethnic identification harms her father. It is because she only sees her identity superficially as either white or Asian that she fails to understand the pain she inflicts.

Linda thinks she’s doing the right thing by taking her father to her favorite restaurant, which sold both American and Vietnamese cuisine. She thought it’d make his day, given how shrewd he was when it came to restaurant names, after criticizing the ones she’d already suggested. He said The Flying Biscuit sounded cartoony, that Bagels Unlimited was trying too hard, that Peach Valley Café belonged in Portland, not Florida. Linda took his silence as consent when she suggested her final choice, Bagels and Noodles, surprised to find that he was willing to go. Linda thought she was doing the right thing because her father hadn’t tried Vietnamese food since her mother passed away two years ago, her freshman year. When she and her father arrived and sat down in the booth, next to a scenic shot of the vacant street, Linda began to talk about how all her friends came to the restaurant at least twice a week. She talked about how it felt to be almost done with school, about all the friends she had made. Linda knew her father felt apprehensive, so she wanted to distract him from thinking too much about the past on his first visit to Gainesville. Mr. Johnson thought it would be a good idea to give his daughter’s efforts a chance. He knew it was the right thing to do because she had mentioned wanting to go to grad school “anywhere but

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Florida” on her blog, which he read every day. He had decided because of her online post to visit her and spark their relationship that never quite took off, before she was out of his reach doing bigger and better things. But he didn’t realize he would endure a Vietnamese restaurant to do so. Linda thought she did the right thing when she placed her order. She thought it was the right thing to do because she could almost taste the delectable familiarity of her comfort food. The waitress asked her father for his order but Linda intercepted by pointing to the picture of bun rieu on his menu. It was the only meal he had demanded her mom make weekly, so she knew he’d enjoy it. Linda told him it was the best bun rieu she had had at any Vietnamese restaurant she’d been to. She suggested he give it a try. Mr. Johnson told himself it was a good idea to listen to Linda’s recommendation. He told himself this because he knew he needed to get over Phuong’s death from two years ago. The picture of the broth in the menu did not look appetizing compared to what he was used to. It looked artificial, processed, like someone dumped a can of tomato soup over rice noodles. Nothing compared to his wife’s specialty, but he still put faith his daughter regardless of the skepticism. Linda knew talking to her father as they waited for their meal would be a hassle. If it wasn’t the prospect of Vietnamese food that would make him mournful, it was their cold relationship that had never really taken off. She tried to talk about some of her highschool friends he knew, or how much

her 9:35 lab fucked her sleeping schedule. But the sentences they exchanged became stilted, lifeless. Mr. Johnson knew it was a good idea to listen to Linda talk about her life. He knew it was a good idea because he felt like he was connecting to her more. She was a very smart girl and he was proud of the woman she became. But he wondered why she hardly asked him any questions. He wanted to talk about his furniture store or the new Walgreens that opened up a couple miles away from the house. Before he got a chance to bring up either exciting topic, the waitress arrived with their orders. Linda inhaled her steaming bun rieu when it was put onto the table. Its scent confirmed that it was a good idea to choose this restaurant, because every time she smelled the food, she remembered all the great experiences the bowl shared with her. This broth in particular had cured her hunger, her hangovers, and her heartbreaks that constituted her three years at the University. It was the closest thing she could do to experience her mom since she passed away. Linda thought it had been a good idea to help her father order when she saw him looking at his bowl. She knew he hadn’t ordered the meal in a while, because he held the chopsticks the wrong way. He looked at the soup as if something was about to come out of it. She laughed and leaned over to fix his fingers, appreciating this moment with him. Conversations all around them drowned out the quiet, forced interaction between them. The much needed noise let Linda slurp her food instead

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of trying to talk over everyone else. Mr. Johnson knew he couldn’t blame his daughter for not knowing how much he still thought about her mother, because she never saw Phuong curled up in the hospital bed with tubes poking out of her from every angle, asking with labored breathing if he was eating the last meal she cooked. Linda was in college and independent at that point. She mourned in her own way, he was sure. Mr. Johnson kept reassuring himself about his daughter as he tried to eat his meal. But the smell was so horrid he couldn’t even take a bite. Linda thought she was doing the right thing when she tasted her bun rieu and thought about her mother. She thought it was the best idea because she didn’t see her father’s disappointment, too consumed as she was with her food. Mr. Johnson thought it was a good idea to test the waters, to give in to his daughter’s enthusiasm since their relationship had never quite taken off. But Mr. Johnson realized he was wrong and that he wasn’t ready as he tasted and spat out the watered-down imitation of his wife’s best dish.

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BLOCK QUOTE BLOCK QUOTE BLOCK QUOTE

SAHRA VANG

Interviewed by Elizabeth “DeeDee” Barrido on Nov 13, 2015.

Writer/Artist/Entrepreneur

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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

SAHRA VANG


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As someone who uses multiple mediums in your art/craft, do you use a specific medium for a certain story or message? I feel like throughout my creative trajectory, there’s always something that I want to talk about and a story that I want to tell. And I think that just comes with what I’m going through at the time. In terms of the medium or craft that I use to share and explore, I don’t necessarily approach it as, “Well, I want to tell this story, so I’ll turn towards writing, or turn towards film for this specific story.” I think for me it’s been more of how I want to grow as a creator. As I am growing as a person throughout these experiences, I am also growing as a creator and an artist. It is not so much what medium can tell the story the best, it’s more like this is a story I am exploring now at this point in my life, and I want to see where I am as a creator and how I can be challenged. Over the years, I think about how I can reach more people with my stories creatively, so that makes me think about the different platforms of mediums that I want to take on. I shifted from writing to performing multimedia productions because I wanted to challenge myself creatively and push myself out of my comfort zone to reach more people.

routine or is your creative process more spontaneous? It is very different based on what I have going because a lot of my work would be project based in the week or in the month. These past two weeks, for example, was insanely busy for me because I had a lot going on. I don’t really have a routine, it’s whatever my most immediate deadlines are. I do break down my days though based on what my project deadlines are. Generally, I wake up everyday, go straight to my computer and the rest of day will vary with meetings or other errands.

“AS A CREATOR, I THINK THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IS REACHING PEOPLE ON A HUMAN LEVEL.”

As a self-made entrepreneur making a livelihood from your own creative productions, what is a typical day “at work” like for you? Do you have a daily

How has your artistic style evolved over the years and what influenced that growth/ change?

I feel that my style has definitely changed in each of my mediums, whether it’s painting, writing, or filmmaking. I want what I’m creating to be really universal [and] accessible to my audience. If I can connect with more people, I am growing this idea of a community and growing this intersection of experiences. When I say “accessible and universal,” I mean beyond just the Asian-American audiences. I came from a really strong Asian-American progressive community, and that is always going to be a part of me. [However], as I evolve as a human being, I don’t want my work to reach only Asian-Americans. I want my work to reach out to whoever it resonates with. I want to reach a point where I move beyond “this is me and my experience as an

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Sahra Vang in Norman Tunnel, facilitating the Exploring Street Art, Graffiti, Public Art, and Spray Painting Workshop at Women’s Empower Hour on Nov 14, 2015.

Asian American” because I have a lot of human experiences that are universal. As a creator, I think the greatest accomplishment is reaching people on a human level. If I can connect with somebody who may not look like me or come from similar experiences, I think that is a great accomplishment in social justice because I’m able to break down these boundaries that we see visually and physically and connect on a human level. I feel that my artwork has

become simpler because as I get older, I become more simple, mellowed out, straightforward, and I am approaching it with this intention of becoming accessible and universal to people on a human experience.

What message do you want young people to take away from your art?

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

I honestly don’t ever think about that. When I write, create, or share, I do it mostly because it is important to me. It is an outlet for me, a way for me to express, a way for me to connect with other people. If something in there can resonate with them, whether it is one line in a poem or the whole narrative of my story, then I’m happy. Ultimately, I want to share for myself because it’s a form of empowerment and I also want to connect with the people. If someone can find some sort of connection, then I’m happy.

year of high school when I joined CAPAY. It was a place where the youth would facilitate their own workshops on identity and Asian American experience. Over the next few years I started to feel awakened and empowered because I started to get more context with the things that I was feeling as I learned about institutional [and] systemic racism in America, and the history of how [Asian Americans] were marginalized and oppressed for a long time. I started to become more proud of my identity and really embrace it. When I started writing poetry, it was about the same time I Your parents both immigrated to America from was becoming more politically conscious. [Writing] helped Vietnam. As a first-generation Asian American, me connect [what I learned] on a societal level and on a have you ever felt challenged by the concept of dual personal level. My identity inspired a big chunk of my life identities? How has your identity influenced your and now it’s less through the lens of race as I get older.

artistic expression?

Yes, definitely. Growing up in Boston schools, I always felt uncomfortable and knew I was different. In preschool, I was surrounded by other kids and I would notice that I didn’t look like them because I was Vietnamese. The cafeteria was also another environment where I noticed I was different because my mom would make me Vietnamese lunch and everyone else would have sandwiches. There were days I would not open my lunch because I was so scared of how other kids [would] react. That feeling of being different and not being able to fully embrace myself would continue through middle school. At that point, a lot of the stereotypes started coming up--kids feeling that I was the teacher’s pet, being the smartest kid in class, kids saying ching-chong, kids pulling their eyes back. All of those things pointed to me that my identity made me different, and solicited negative reactions from other people. Things started to change during my sophomore

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WOMEN’S EMPOWER HOUR

Fall 2015

Women’s Empower Hour is an event series presented by APIA Affairs that strives to support women and create solidarity within our communities. Our events have addressed topics such as Eurocentric Beauty Standards, Personal Branding, Art, and Fetishization of Asian American Women. Through discussion and activities, we hope that our community will gain more insight on topics that pertain to women in the Asian American community.

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APIA AFFAIRS HIGHLIGHTS 2015-2016

DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY


DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

APIA RESOURCE ROOM LUNCHEONS

Fall 2015

With the move to the Reitz Union, we had to let go of our space in Peabody Hall. This space, known as the APIA Resource Room, was the first designated safe-space the APIA community had acquired at the University of Florida. We celebrated the memories and emotions that occurred in the APIA Resource Room with a three-part luncheon. Participants enjoyed free food provided by local Asian American vendors, and shared memories of how they used the space throughout the years.

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

DUALITY OF GENDER IN SOUTH ASIAN CULTURE

Spring 2016

APIA Affairs and the Bangladeshi Student Association’s Panel on the Duality of Gender in South Asian Culture served as a discussion about gender roles and double standards in South Asia. The South Asian students on the panel spoke about the gender roles they face, how these contribute to the double standards they face, and the conflict that these gender roles may have caused. There was an opportunity for audience members to ask questions in order to share their thoughts and gain more knowledge about the topic. This panel gave South Asian students an opportunity to create a dialogue about the impact of culturally prescribed gender roles and gave others students insight into some of the issues that are important to South Asians.

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

REITZ UNION MOVE-IN

Spring 2016

A historical moment for the APIA community at UF occurred in 1993 with the founding of the Asian Student Union, now known as the Asian American Student Union. Another historical moment happened in 2011, when we received our first APIA Director, Leah Villanueva. From the early 1990’s to this present day, the culmination of our efforts has been achieved in carving out a space for our community at the heart of campus. In January 2016, APIA Affairs officially moved into its new space in the Reitz Union, increasing the office’s accessibility to the student body on campus. But the fight must continue on. We are the only space on a campus for the APIA community in Florida. We cannot accept that we are privileged without acknowledging those that do not have the same accessible resources. This office is only a stepping stone for our community; it is not the final destination. 35


DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

FIRST APIA STUDENT EXPERIENCE SURVEY

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Asian American (APIA) undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Florida in order to better understand the specific cultural identity experiences on campus and to improve the services provided by the Office of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Affairs and the University of Florida

Spring 2016

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

#SILENCEDNOTSILENT CAMPAIGN Fall 2015 - Spring 2016

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

University of Florida’s Office of APIA Affairs launched the #SilencedNotSilent campaign to challenge the notion that the Asian Pacific Islander American community is silent and invisible. We believe that we were always vocal about the issues we face. However, our concerns were treated as trivial, dismissal, or unheard, creating the perception of us being SILENT when in reality we are being SILENCED. Through this campaign, we asked students and faculty who have felt or are feeling silenced to raise their voices and speak about a personal story that is important to them.

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DUALITY | APIA ANTHOLOGY

APIA AFFAIRS STAFF

Spring 2016

(Left to Right) Front Row: Mona Brenda Sayedul-Huq, Alexander Cena; Middle Row: Sana Chaudhry, Xue Wang, Michael Ngo, Amy Chen, Nashrah Ahmed, Tara Chang, Elizabeth “DeeDee” Barrido, Melissa Huang, Tashfia Noor; Back Row: Anthony Yin, Vincent Cheng, Candice Luc, Matthew Wilson, Nicole Dan, Kanica Phok, Jennifer Zhang, Yulie Choi, Jeshow Yang, Steven Che Not Pictured: Aparna Sethumadhavan

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The Office of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Affairs puts together an annual anthology containing creative work made by APIA-identified individuals who are either students, faculty, staff, or alumni of the University of Florida, or community members of the local area. The APIA Affairs Anthology provides a record of the APIA experience and showcases our community’s unheard voices and stories. Special thanks to the University of Florida, Multicultural Diversity Affairs, Target Copy, Jamie Liu, Nashrah Ahmed, Nicole Dan, Tara Chang, Sahra Vang, Melissa Huang, and Maria Pitt.