SAO Board – Fall 2014

SAO Board - Fall 2014

Hey everyone!

It’s been quite a while since we’ve updated this page, so we wanted to share some quick updates. Here’s the SAO board for Fall 2014, along with SAO members Quinn Wong and Alice Liu, and Haverford ASA board members Ching Li and Kelsey Owyang.

And here’s a little bit information about the SAO board members:

Oscar Chen – Co-President

Hello! As you’ve probably read from the header to this bio, I’m a junior who’s taken a liking to tinkering with computers and environmental studies in my time here. While that’s a fun and good, somehow along the way building the Asian community on campus has also become my side passion project. Ever since my time as a board intern, SAO and its affiliated groups have been an integral part of my Swat experience – in some ways turning my world upside down and challenging me in ways I had never expected, and in other ways, being the most caring and supportive group of people there is.

Outside of SAO, I’m also an active member of the Intervarsity chapter here on campus, occasionally join the orchestra as a clarinetist, and channel my inner kid through intramural sports. In my spare time, I moonlight as an avid reader of science fiction, a way-too-dedicated NBA and European soccer fan. A few places you can find me: behind the ITS help desk, rummaging through old books in the SAO room, chowing down on Hiro Ramen in Philadelphia, or messing around on the piano in Parrish parlors.

Alpha Chau – Co-President

Before coming to Swarthmore, I started a philosophy club in my high school, where we sat around discussing grandiose questions every week. After every meeting, I left the school feeling like I had been looking through a microscope for the past one and a half hours. I felt personally separated from the issues and, more importantly, the people who are affected by them themselves. When I came to Swarthmore, I realized that SAO is a venue for bolstering the sense of connection I felt was missing. Being a part of SAO for these past two+ years, I have spread awareness of real-world issues, learned many nuances of leadership, and helped forge a connected community at Swat, all while learning about myself and about the friends that I made. I admire the fact that SAO allows you to learn and work with others as a community, and I hope to help make these on- and off-campus opportunities more accessible to my fellow students. In the end, my dream is for SAO to be a unifier of people: a community for creating friendships, a source of unforgettable memories, and a medium for voice and action.

Dan Lai – Secretary

Hey everyone! I’m Dan and I’m the secretary for SAO! I’m in charge of sending out the weekly digest and keeping the SAO room/archives nice and tidy. I don’t have a major as of yet, but I love biology. I first became interested in APIA issues while volunteering at a community health organization in NYC’s Chinatown for two summers in high school. Since then, I have become very involved with the APIA community at Swarthmore, and being part of SAO has really helped me reach out to people on campus.

As for what else I do here at Swarthmore, I am a Writing Associate and on the Ultimate Frisbee team. My hobbies include everything outdoors (hiking, biking, backpacking, camping) and Netflix (this is totally a hobby). Feel free to talk to me if you have any questions or just want to chat. I’d love to get to know you all!

Bryan Lin – Treasurer

Hey everyone!  I’m Bryan Lin and am the Treasurer. I joined SAO to learn about social and political issues Asian Americans face as I came from a sheltered suburb community that is predominantly Asian.  I am a potential Biology major and Music minor.  Besides SAO, I am involved in volunteering with Global Neighbors at CADES and work as the hosting intern.

If you have ideas for events, don’t hesitate to talk to me because I manage the budget and can get funding for you through SBC or the IC. Or if you just want to talk I’d love to get to know you!  If you have any questions or concerns you can email me at I’m excited to meet you all!

Meiri Anto – Political Chair

Hi I’m Meiri and I’m a junior at Swarthmore. I’m the political chair of SAO, which means I work to promote social justice and educate both myself and others about issues affecting Asians.  My preferred Friday night activity is going to a concert, food, and/or board games. I spend an ungodly amount of time on Quora, watching TED talks, and reading music blogs. I can’t function without two cups of coffee a day. My newest goal is learning how to play guitar. My favorite fruit is lychee, and I can make some mean fried Oreos. I think a lot about where I want to travel to and explore next. My MBTI personality type is INTP. Oh by the way I study computer science and economics.

Jigme Tobgyel – Social Chair/IC Intern

Hi! I’m Jigme and I’m the social chair of SAO, which means I’m responsible for organizing social events and SAO programs. I’m an economics major and a statistics and political science minor as of now. I became interested in APIA issues when I first came to Swarthmore and learned more about sociopolitical concerns in the APIA community. In addition to SAO, I’m also an intercultural center intern and a student academic mentor for Willets lower level. Talk to me if you want to know more.

Matthew Chen – Intergroup Liaison 

I ALL I’M MATTHEW. MATTHEW CHEN. I enjoy reaching out to all groups on and near campus and building community! This is my second year in SAO and Swarthmore and I’m majoring in Engineering with a Gen/Sex minor.  I hope my work in SAO eventually culminates in addressing the diverse, interonnected problems that not only SAO, but other marginalized communities in and around Swarthmore face. Come see me and we can talk about whatever!

Jessica Chen – Co-Publicity Chair

I’m Jessica, the co-pub chair of SAO, aka the poster person, and one of the two international voices on SAO board. Hobbies include reading and marathon movie watching.

Delfin Buyco – Co-Publicity Chair

Hey everyone! I’m Delfin Buyco and I am the other Co-Publicity Chair. I’m currently a sophomore and a prospective chemistry major. Being Filipino-American, coming from a low-income background, and coming from a ethnically-diverse neighborhood, I am interested in issues such as immigration, class differences in the APIA community, and access to higher education for marginalized people. Apart from SAO, I am a co-founder of SOLIS (the low-income group at Swarthmore) and a volunteer for Dare 2 Soar.

Leon Chen – Board Intern

Hey I’m Leon and I’m a freshman from Cupertino, California pursuing an Economics major. I enjoy long walks to Goodwill or Target, romantic board game nights with junk food, and free SEPTA tickets. In my free time, I attempt to barista at Paces, write rants for the Daily Gazette, and hide in the McCabe basement. I think people who eat plain Chobani are pretentious, yet I drink kale smoothies from mason jars. Issues that I’m interested in include gentrification, the false conception of “model minority,” and Pokemon.

Jenny Gao – Board Intern

Hey everyone! I’m Jenny and I am an undecided major from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. My official name is just Jenny because my parents were not aware of the formal “Jennifer”. At Swarthmore, I dance for RnM, write for the Daily Gazette, and work for Admissions. In my spare time, I organize my day on Google Calendar and watch The Office.

Kevin Lai – Board Intern

Hi everyone! I am Kevin Lai. I am from Dallas, Texas and currently a SAO Board Intern (SBI). I am a freshman, so my major(s) isn’t/aren’t set in stone yet. My prospective majors are Economics and Music (double major). I’m a pretty big music person, so you’ll probably find me playing alto saxophone or piano for the Orchestra, Wind Ensemble (next semester), Jazz Band, and Dramaboard Musical pits. So basically, chances of running into me at Underhill or McCabe are pretty high. I also play for the Swarthmore Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team (Go Worms!). During my free time, I enjoy biking and kayaking (though I’m an amateur at both). If I’m super bored, I’ll end up playing computer games (but so far I haven’t really gotten to that point yet and it doesn’t seem to be a common occurance) at the SCCS Media Lounge. I am super excited for the coming semesters/ years to come! If you have any questions about me or about SAO, feel free to contact me. I’ll answer your questions the best I can. Also, I need tips about how to dress for the weather in the winter at Swarthmore… I have no clue how winter weather works here yet.

Ellen Liu – Board Intern

Hey! I’m Ellen Liu and I am a first-year SAO board intern. I am a prospective neuroscience or economics major. Besides SAO, I am a member of the investment team in SWATFinancial and pianist in music groups across campus. In my spare time, I enjoy listening to acoustic music, watching the Food Network, and sleeping. If you share my love for cats and zebras, offer me any type of Asian food, or watch the same Korean dramas as I do, I’ll be your friend forever.

Elections, SBI’s, and your new board!


If a picture is really worth a thousand words, then I hope this makes up for this blog post being so short. Looking forward to a great semester with y’all!


Hello once again!

It’s been a LONG TIME since we’ve updated this page! Didja miss us? Some quick updates to share – we have a new board!

Board elections have come and gone, new SBI’s have been chosen, and so we have many faces (some new, some old) this semester! So please give a warm welcome (and maybe even a good luck ;D ) to our newest board members, and our new SBI’s!

Secretary – Daniel Lai ’17

Treasurer – Bryan Lin ’17

Social Chair – Jimmy Tobgyel ’17

Political Chair – Meiri Anto ’16

Publicity Chair – Jessica Chen ’17

Intergroup Liaison – Shawn Pan ’17

SAO Board Interns (SBI’s) – Matthew Chen ’17, Tina Zhu ’17, Delfin Buyco ’17

Welcome, SBIs!!!


Hello everyone, it’s been quite some time hasn’t it?


I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Thanksgiving! Fall semester has passed by pretty quickly, and wouldn’t you know it –  there are 1.5 weeks left until reading week (whoaaa). That also means that this post is quite late…forgive me :'( I have been a bad, bad blogger…


Anyways, this post isn’t really about us – it’s to congratulate our newest (but-not-so-new-anymore) members to SAO board! So please, join me in welcoming our lovely SBIs (SAO Board Interns) June, Jimmy, Dan, Bryan, and Matt!


If you haven’t met them yet, by all means do (They’re all wonderful~). To get you started however, I asked each of them to provide a little bio – enjoy!


I enjoy food, sleep, and Modern Family. Sometimes I have deep thoughts about political issues within the Asian-American community and human relationships across cultural groups, but most of the time, I’m thinking about what Sharples will be serving for dinner today.


J is for the joy I share with you

I is for the intellectual discussions
G is for the great times we’ll have

M is for the many moments we’ll share

And E is for the everything that I thought SAO would be.


Hi! I’m Daniel Lai and am currently a SAO Board Intern for the Fall 2013 semester. I’m interested in continuing SAO’s vision of being an active socio-political organization on campus, while possibly extending our influence to areas like Philadelphia. I also am hoping to continue SAO’s strong social presence on campus and work on keeping it a safe space for Swatties to openly discuss their heritage. Outside of SAO, I’m interested in Engineering, CS, and Biology as potential majors and am also involved with the Frisbee team and the Outsiders Club.

If you have any questions or would just like to chat, I’d love to get to meet you so just drop me a line!


I’m Bryan Lin and I’m SAO excited to be on board this year!  I love eating good food because who doesn’t love eating?  From the immortal words of Allison Gold, “I love fried rice, I love noodles, I love chow mein chow MO-MO-MO-MO mein!!” But I seriously do love Asian food and would choose rice over noodles any day.  I also enjoy playing board games such as Loaded Questions, Settlers and Taboo.  Besides SAO, I’m involved in Global Neighbors and Fencing.


Hey all, I’m Matthew Chen and I’m one of the SAO Board Interns for Fall 2013! My wish for SAO is for it to grow to encompass all ethnic groups to achieve solidarity in the APIA community here at Swarthmore.  My intended major is a combination of Engineering and Gender & Sexuality Studies, and I like to run, bike, and make maps in my free time. I also don’t bite so come find me and talk to me :)


I have to say, this group has been a blast to work with – so much charisma, youth, and potential (and occasional lateness)! Almost reminds me of my younger self… :’) If you see one of these great freshmen out there, extend a hand out and send ‘em a high five – they’ve been, are, and (I’m sure) will continue doing some great work!

Welp, that’s all the time we have today folks – I hope you had fun meeting the SBIs, cause I sure did. Thanks for joining me – have a great rest-of-break, and a wonderful rest-of-the-semester!!

Smell ya later~

Karl (SAO’s resident clingy ex-Co-Pub chair)

Jiro Dreams of SAOSHI [THIS FRIDAY 10/4 at 7 PM – SCI 199]

Jiro Dreams of SAOSHI 

Come watch the critically acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Trailer), an inspiring film about Jiro Ono, an 85 year old sushi master and owner of a Michelin three star restaurant, and follow his quest to perfect the art of sushi. ALL WHILE MAKING SUSHI. That’s right! SAO will provide sushi making basics- rice, seaweed, imitation crab meat, avocado and more! As you watch Jiro on the big screen of Sci 199, you too can follow his techniques to make the Best. Sushi. Ever! All you need to do is RSVP at this link ASAP!

APIA Month 2013 Recap… and Epic Ramen Time!! & the APIA Activists Panel


Well hello there~

How are you today? I hope that everything is going swimmingly this week :) And to all the Swatties currently on the struggle bus/train/transportation vehicle – you can do it! ONEMOREWEEKLEZGOOOO


If you haven’t heard the news, to some dismay but also to much relief, APIA Month 2013 is over! WOW! After spanning a long 36 or so days and with 12+ events across various APIA groups on campus, it was a blast. So thank you to everyone who participated in planning events, attended the awesome events, and just had fun with it – it was a real pleasure, and I hope everyone enjoyed. We sure did!

And I just have to say again, to everyone who came out and hung out with us:  thanks a bunch – our events wouldn’t have been anything without you guys!

Now that that’s out of the way, lets start shall we?



So the story behind this event:  our great Co-Pres Allison chatted with one of her friends in BAASA, Brandeis Asian American Student Association, who hosted a similar event on their campus (s/o to Brandeis!). We’ve adapted it slightly to fit our budget and resources but it’s pretty much the same. Essentially, Epic Ramen Time!! (or ERT!! for short) follows the same format for the popular cooking show Iron Chef/Iron Chef America, in which each team has, in our version, 45 minutes to create dishes that showcase the unveiled secret ingredient, which the contestants figure out at the beginning of the battle. We provided a bunch of ingredients and the four teams went to work!



Our participants:

  1. group 1  Weite Liu, Jianyi Ye, Zige Jiang, Yikai Wang, Sizhao Wu

  2. group 2  Stan Le, Nate Lo, Rebecca Teng, Cally Deppen, Supriya Davis

  3. group 3  AJ Valera, Tatsuya Ueda, Klarissa Khor, Shabbir Vahanvaty, Yein Pyo

  4. group 4  Yin Guan, Htet Win, Paul Chung, Lucas Chen, Tommy Laux


It was messy, it was hectic, it was ridiculous, it was…epic. As the first time that SAO has ever tried something like this, it went over pretty well! There was a great turnout for the event, which definitely made things much more fun and exciting – especially the minigames (s/o to everyone who participated!).  And of course, let’s not forget our charismatic and fanTAStic chairmen, Patrick and Richard Monari! What a dastardly duo of brothers. You two rocked it. A big thanks to our three faculty judges as well: Dean Alina Wong, Kenyetta Givans, and Professor Lu. They knew their ramen, alright.



And of course, congrats to the winners, Team Dancing Dragon! Perhaps this won’t be the last ERT!! that Scheuer Stadium has to offer…but until next year, I hope you all enjoyed~



APIA Activist Panel

As our last event and perhaps our most important event, I was pretty excited for the Activist Panel. Even a former SAO president, Gloria Chan ’02, showed up on campus for the first time since she graduated! Our eclectic cast of guests included (from left to right) Mia-Lia Kiernan, Jeffrey Yamashita, Gloria Chan ’02, and Nancy Nguyen.


A few short bios to catch you up:

Mia-Lia Kiernan:  Mia-Lia is a co-founder and organizer for 1 Love Movement, a grassroots community organization that was born out of a deportation crisis in the Cambodian American community in Philadelphia in 2010. She works to strengthen communities by addressing immigration and deportation policies.

Jeffrey Yamashita:  Jeffrey is currently a graduate student in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and hold interests in areas such as Asian American Studies and Racialized Masculinity. As a fourth-generation Japanese American, he has gained much insight from his family’s experiences in World War II.

Gloria Chan ’02: Gloria is the founder of Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI) and the former President and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS). Currently a Life and Leadership Coach, Gloria’s insight comes from her previous experience with APIA issues in the government.

Nancy Nguyen: Nancy is currently the Delaware Valley Branch Manager of Boat People SOS (BPSOS), which aims to “empower, organize, and equip Vietnamese individuals and communities in their pursuit of liberty and dignity.” The work that Nancy and BPSOS have done centers around many different aspects of social justice.


As an engineer and someone who has only taken Natural Science courses over the past school year, I walked into the panel not really knowing what to expect, thinking that everything I heard would go straight over my head. Boy, was I wrong.

The panelists each started out by addressing a few questions that were handed to them – questions such as “What is your current work in activism? How did you become involved in this work?” to “What do you think are some of the most pertinent political issues affecting APIA communities today?”.  They then opened up to questions from the audience, which was fantastic. All the panelists did such a wonderful job of answering questions and providing their own insight on the state of the APIA community, and I really enjoyed listening to the conversation that formed in the room.

I didn’t take any notes (shame on me.), but I do remember a few things that stuck out. During the first part of the discussion, Nancy talked about a few “Oh Shit” moments that really changed her perspective. The one that really caught me was when someone told her that “Asian American studies does not belong to higher education.” The fact that Asian American studies should not START or BE LIMITED TO higher education isn’t such a crazy thought if you think about it. And Jeff, as one of his points, talked about a frame in which to view activism – How can you change the frame to include multiple people, to include groups with the same issues? We can’t be pigeon-holed by the frames of reference that are created by the media, or other sources. Something like that (don’t quote me, please). Gloria chimed in as well with some great and empowering advice to a few seniors (Ruben and Mina) who were interested in beginning their journey into APIA activism.

Post-panel, there was a nice little reception outside the room where everyone was able to talk to the activists. It was a great time!



I dunno. I really loved the panel. It was especially inspiring to hear how much passion the panelists had for the subject! To anyone who came, I hope it was everything you were hoping for – and more.


And there you have it. The end of APIA Month 2013, and boy was it great. You know, when I look back on this past month, I think the first thing I’ll think is:  “That was pretty tiring, but wow was it FUN.” Thanks to everyone who came to any (or all!) of our events. Thanks for all the laughs, the tears (j/k), and of course the ramen — it wouldn’t have been APIA month without you! Are you getting tired of all of this thanking yet?

Most of all though, please give a hand (not literally, we don’t want that) to SAO board and to all the groups who organized events. Our co-presidents Allison and Wendy especially – they worked insanely hard to plan this APIA month and it was so fantastic because of it. *clap clap clap*

With that, I bid thee farewell. Get pumped – next APIA month is only a year away!


Smell ya later~


Magical Asian Food Cart & Kero One


Hi friends!

It seems like we’re halfway through APIA month — hope you’ve been able to check out an event or two! And if you haven’t …….well there a still some great events that you can check out in the next few weeks!

Okay, so I just wanted to talk a bit about the last week in events. I had a fun Thursday (4/11) and Friday (4/12) and I hope you did too because last week we had two great events back-to-back: the Magical Asian Food Cart, and of course our APIA month concert w/ Kero One!


~*Magical Asian Food Cart*~

Somewhere, there lives a magical food cart that is said to roam around campus once a year during APIA month to give out snacks…but not just to anyone. To appease its sphinx-like tendencies, one must know the latest APIA factoid that it (or Michelle) tweeted. Your reward…this:


Yes. All those Hello Pandas, Choco Pies, and of course Pocky… glorious. Unfortunately, after a night of wheeling around so much food, the cart was exhausted and has said its goodbyes until next APIA month. A good number of you managed to catch it (especially at our first and last stops!) and if you were one of them, s/o to you – you’re awesome! Hopefully you had as much fun chasing the cart as we did running away from everyone.


~*APIA Month Concert 2013- Kero One*~

Friday (4/12) was pretty darn exciting — it was our annual concert, and this year we invited Korean American rapper and producer Kero One from the Bay Area, along with one of his singers, Suhn. The event started around 10pm in our favorite Olde Club with three student groups performing: Fatimah Hameed and Lauren Lee, Yenny Cheung and Daniel Paz, and Paolo Debuque and Jeffrey Moore. I even made a cameo c: and I just wanted to say “Great Job!!” to our three student performances – keep doin’ what you do.

Then, the main event: Kero One appears on stage, along with his certainly charismatic singer, Suhn! If you came, I hope you stuck it out – Kero’s beats were a real treat. If you haven’t heard any of Kero One’s songs, here’s a pretty good one: (Youtube) What Am I Supposed To Do? ft. Suhn I definitely enjoyed it, and I don’t usually enjoy things…j/k, but honestly it was pretty darn good. In fact, I’m listening to some of his stuff right now ~ ♫


For anyone who came despite the pouring rain, thanks a bunch! I hope you had a good time (: and of course, s/o to Oscar Chen for doing an awesome-possum job bringing Kero One out here – everyone pat him on the back for me, will ya?

There are two weeks left in APIA month here at Swat — make sure you check out our calendar for the lowdown on all the events. We still have some great ones coming up, so don’t get all tuckered out just yet — the semester’s almost over! GET PUMPED~


Smell ya later,


Hi, Zuko Here! APIA Representation in Media w/ Dante Basco

Dante and SAO

Greetings, all!

SAO is deep into APIA Month, and last Thursday (4/4) was a BIG day — Firelord, American Dragon, and Leader of the Lost Boys DANTE BASCO graced Swarthmore’s campus in the evening!

Dante and Us

For those who haven’t heard of Dante Basco or don’t know much about him, don’t fret – here’s a little background to catch you up.  Filipino American Dante Basco has had a long career in the arts, doing things from acting/voice acting to dancing to even poetry. He’s most known for voicing Prince Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Jake Long from American Dragon: Jake Long, and for playing Rufio in the live-action film Hook. He also starred in the Filipino American film The Debut. In addition to playing many roles in films and television shows, Dante started a production company, Kinetic Films, which strives to be a leader and pioneer in Asian American media. As a producer, writer, and actor for Kinetic Films, Dante has starred in multiple films, the most recent being Hang Loose. And on Thursday he came to talk to us about his take on Asian Americans in the media…and maybe tell us what his favorite line as Prince Zuko was.


After a quick video intro (s/o to John Sun!), Dante walked down the aisle of Admissions Commons to start his Q&A. As he gave a us a basic overview of his career and background as a “hip-hop Asian”, he mixed in a few of his poetry pieces. Very cool.

To continue, Dante voiced a lot of his thoughts on his identity and role as an Asian American. He especially distinguished the catch in Hollywood that out of the few ethnic roles that are available for Asian Americans, most continue to adhere to and propagate old Asian stereotypes — something he doesn’t necessarily hate, but is disappointed about. It’s especially frustrating to him because he, as he pointed out in his Q&A, is Asian American, and as such, he’s had many of the same experiences as others who grew up in this country and wants to communicate that through the films he writes and roles that he plays.

Check out this little blurb he wrote back last year.


As for my own thoughts, I was personally surprised by the depth of thought he had put into this topic. As a fan, you never really get to see what else goes on outside the recording room, and I was really glad to have gained insight into Dante’s own experiences. In addition,  I was absolutely blown away by the turnout – Admissions Commons couldn’t even hold everyone! And while I don’t think everyone attended for the Q&A, it was great that everyone could hear this conversation about the APIA community. It’s all about getting the word out there first, right?

And I have to say, what a trooper. After the Q&A, all the fans on campus got in line for autographs, pictures, and the occasional voice recording with Dante. It lasted as long as the event itself, but everyone had a great time. Including Dante! So (if you’re reading this, Dante) on behalf of SAO, thank you so much for coming out and just chilling with us for a while. It was a blast!

Dante and SAO

While you’re here, here’s a few links to visit:

Dante’s Tumblr

Wikipedia Page

And of course, follow us for updates and events as we continue through April and APIA Month! Get pumped :)

SAO Facebook

SAO Twitter


Get ready — our next events coming up are the Magical Asian Food Cart (Thursday 4/11) and our APIA Month Concert with Kero One (Friday, 4/12). Hope to see ya there (cause I’ll be there)!


Smell ya later~