Asian American students keep cultural heritage alive | The Triangle

Asian American students keep cultural heritage alive

Photo by Ty Wong | The Triangle

The Drexel University Asian Students Association hosted its third in-person Asian American Philadelphia Advocacy Conference in Nesbitt Hall on May 25.

This year the ASA executive board elected several first- and second-year general body members to serve as chair members to plan this conference. 

“We had a theme for our conference, which is ‘tradition through a modern lens,’” said Olivia Do, a second-year software engineering major and AAPAC’s event programming chair. 

“A lot of it was about how can we honor our ancestors and traditions while also acknowledging that with changing times these traditions may change to meet the evolving society norms.”

AAPAC hosted several Drexel student organizations and Philadelphia-based non-profit organizations that support Asian communities to give presentations about retaining cultural history.

According to Do, “We brought in FISDU [Filipino Intercultural Society of Drexel University], we brought in Viet Lead, Make Us Visible PA, we had Mango Tree Counseling and the Persian Students Association.”

Activities offered by external organizations included a documentary screening presented by Viet Lead about Southeast Asian refugee hate in the 1980s and 90s. Drexel student organizations also offered programming, like the Persian Students Association, who hosted a dance workshop to symbolize performance art preservation as Persian dance is not allowed to be practiced in Iran.

The AAPAC committee specifically chose these organizations as they all specialize in providing resources to Asian Americans and immigrants on navigating the modern world while providing outlets to preserve and celebrate their culture after settling. 

“We kind of decided as a whole team [as we] brainstormed a bunch of different topics at the beginning, but we boiled it down to tradition through a modern lens,” said Do.

“It is important to celebrate the more traditional sides of our culture, but it’s also discussing how those things change throughout the years.”

In terms of deciding what programming the guests would do, the AAPAC committee spoke highly about wanting to balance cultural appropriation versus traditional preservation when organizing the workshops of the conference.

“Our theme was especially good, because of the popularity of Asian cultures in the recent years,” said Brianna Tao, a first-year cybersecurity major and AAPAC’s finance chair. 

“There’s like a disconnect and it’s hard to tell with like cultural appropriation and what’s really traditional so we focused on that more.”

AAPAC has once again exposed students to new ideas of advocating for cultural appreciation not just at Drexel, but in their own communities. 

The AAPAC committee expresses a lot of pride in organizing the conference to spotlight the theme and help students see why it is not just important to remember their culture but take it upon themselves to preserve it.

“I’m really proud of our committee for putting this together [as] we have been working since fall term, and we bonded, really grew close as a team, and there’s been a lot of hardships, but we persevered and made it through,” said Tao.

“I’m really satisfied just to celebrate the diversity of what it means to be Asian American because it encompasses so much, and we were able to bring all of it into one conference,” said Do.

This article is part of a column dedicated to supporting underrepresented Asian student organizations on Drexel University’s campus.