Hey, Karl here!
This weekend, from the 22nd – 24th, was the annual ECAASU Conference which was held at Columbia University this year. ECAASU stands for ‘East Coast Asian American Student Union,’ and it’s a very chill conference that hosts members from API/A groups around the East coast. ECAASU is great because it blends social gathering, speakers and performances, and discussion about API/A topics that are relevant to each of the groups attending. After 36 years of uninterrupted growth and conferences, ECAASU stands as the largest Asian American student conference in the United States.
Straight from the ECAASU 2013 website,
The mission of ECAASU is to:
- STRENGTHEN Asian American student organizations through intercollegiate communication to serve the educational and social needs of Asian American students
- ADVANCE the social equality of minorities by eliminating prejudice and discrimination, defending human and civil rights, and combating racism and hate crimes through activities permissible under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- ENCOURAGE Asian Americans to participate in the political and electoral process through nonpartisan voter education/registration and “get out the vote” drives
- PROMOTE community-building and understanding among Asian Americans with different nationalities and people of color
My first ECAASU experience was absolutely fan-tastic, and I think it’s a great experience for anyone who is interested in Asian-American issues, networking and of course FUN. Unfortunately I was unable to make it to the opening ceremony’s performances, but here are a few of my highlights of the convention:
- From Twinkies meet AzN PrYDe: Identity Development within Our Community
This workshop led by Patricia Chau Nguyen from Cornell University was particularly great because it connected closely with me and also with the college-aged audience. It highlighted the different stages that Asian-Americans can experience throughout their life using Kim’s model (which was actually developed in the ’80s!). This model describes how Asian-Americans can move from early development in their identity (think about how you first realized you were a little different from all the other kids in grade school) to a reconciled state where identification for or against the dominant culture is no longer an issue personally. This was especially interesting in the sense that the experiences of members of a group like SAO can be much different from others’ and it poses the question of how we can cater to a positive discussion for all members.
- Taboo: Mental Health in the Asian American Community
This workshop, facilitated by Kristen Lu and Jordan Alam, from Columia University and Barnard College, was really well done as well – I personally loved this one because I think it was a topic that many college students could speak towards. In the discussion, we did an investigation of what Asian-Americans think of mental health and treatment and where these ideas originate from, with particular stress on, well, stress. It was interesting because I had never really thought about the fact that was taboo – the fact that many of my peers held a fear of seeming vulnerable or weak if they could not handle a problem themselves. Of course, we can begin to solve these problems by simply talking to people: friends, parents, and counselors, just off the top of my head (CAPS and the Wellness Center for my fellow Swatties!).
- Asian Affinity Forum
The Asian Affinity Forum is a post-ECAASU dinner for leaders of various student groups to communicate, share ideas, and just have a good time! I attended along with our co-president Allison and we both had a great time conversing with other group leaders in ways we can improve meetings, attendance, and interest. And a free dinner to boot? Great! Unfortunately, the dinner was cut a bit short due to a dark and shadowy figure (and another highlight of the conference)…..
- Ellen Kim & Aye Hasegawa
Wooo! Come on now, who DOESN’T know who Ellen Kim and Aye Hasegawa are? (Ellen Kim’s Youtube Channel)
Honestly, I can’t recommend ECAASU enough for anyone who may be interested. If the opportunity arises, don’t hesitate! ECAASU 2014 will be held in Washington, D.C. and it’s sure to be another great time.
For the full list of events, performer, workshops, and more, visit the ECAASU 2013 website.