APIA 15 MONTH Recap – Ryka, D-Lo && Amy Vollmer!

Well guys, it’s almost the end of the year, and I’m happy to say we’ve had quite the successful and exciting APIA Month!

A few weeks ago, award-winning performer, poet, and novelist Ryka Aoki visited Swarthmore to read from her novel He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) and her book of poetry Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has been honored for her “extraordinary commitment to free speech and artistic expression, as well as the visibility and well-being of transgender people.”

One of our SBIs, was able to attend and wrote up a  nice reflection on her event:

“Ryka Aoki gave us an incredibly moving performance of a selection of her works. She was an incredibly dynamic and engaging speaker, and some of her writings really connected with my life experiences as an Asian American.

One work I really connected with was a stream-of-consciousness poem about the speaker’s visit to a sushi bar. The poem presented, among other things, the speaker’s dilemma that, if she is not willing to grant herself the more expensive sushi which she knows is delicious, in line with what I heard as a regular pattern of self-denial, she does not know how she will love herself enough to reach for important things in life that trip to Paris or even self-love.”


Deshi and SAO came together to welcome queer, transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian D-Lo to Swarthmore as part of API/A Heritage Month.

Here are some things people took away from his performance and talk:

  • “D’Lo talked a lot about his personal life and his transition to becoming a queer/transgender Sri Lankan. I appreciate how relatable his stories were to me, a heterosexual API/A male. For example, he talked about cultural and communication barriers inherent in an immigrant family. He had to keep his sexuality a secret for a long time because he knew his family would initially not accept him. I appreciate how I could relate to growing up with a conservative family, and the inherent cultural barriers of being Asian as well as American.”
  • “He openly acknowledged his fears in his personal story, and although he choose his own path based off his beliefs, he still respected the opinions of his parents. I appreciate how I could relate to his upbringing, yet found it wondrous how he traveled such a different path. As immigrants, his family was quite conservative, yet they still managed to open up to his sexuality, and accept and love him still. “

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Our last SAO-coordinated event was a casual dinner with Professor Amy Vollmer, head of the department of biology. She took time out of her evening to grab a meal with a few SAO members during one of our regular SAO dinners. We were able to ask her questions and she shared some of her insight on Swarthmore and strategies and tips she has collected over the years to succeed here.


We ended APIA month with a bang with our RTT Night Market and our Olde Club Party, both of which were highly successful. We hope that everyone enjoyed the events we’ve held and the people we’ve brought here as part of APIA Heritage Month!

Love from your co-pub chair,

Ellen ^________^

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