Shuwen Zhang – Kazan Taiko

Along with the APA Alumni spotlights, an exciting new blog series will feature the representatives from our member organizations! First up, we have Shuwen Zhang, representing Kazan Taiko.

How did you get involved in Kazan Taiko?

I grew up living in Japan, so I grew up watching Taiko performances at festivals. I thought it was really neat, and always wanted to try. I played played piano before, like a typical asian kid, but Taiko is so different. Taiko gives me a chance to take out my stress on the drums, and the people are really nice.

Could you describe your position?

I’m the executive director, but we also have artistic director, so i’m in charge of logistic planning and I help out at practices and my artistic director takes care of the artistic vision. We have practices Monday and Wednesday at night behind VKC.

Did you have any other roles before?

Sophomore year I was the Practice Leader, so I helped the artistic director train the newbies, and last year I was executive director too.

How is your E-board structured?

We have 9 people on E-Board – there’s Executive Director, two Finance Chairs, and under Artistic Committee theres the Artistic Director and two Practice Leaders. Then we have a Media Committee, with a Media Director, Digital Chair and then External Relations. And shes the one that comes to APASA meetings!

Would you say you stuck it through Kazan Taiko for the family and cultural aspect or for the performances?

I would say both, I really like the performance,  I did a lot of other groups too like Dance Off and then i dabbled in a bunch of different clubs… I guess the cultural aspect was a big part of it even though i’m not Japanese, it connected me to the Japanese side of my culture. And definitely the family members, I got to know a lot of them really well. I live in the taiko house, there’s 11 of us and we haven’t gotten sick of each other yet, so that’s good!

What’s you favorite event for Taiko?

Spring concert is our biggest event where we showcase our performances. And the hell weeks leading up to that are tough but I really like it cuz thats when we really get to know each other and get to clean up everything, so I guess thats my favorite part… and just going out to eat. we go to ktown a lot since it’s so close.

If you could have any kind of talent, what would it be?

I guess I would want to be able to speak publicly. I’ve gotten a little better hopefully but even as executive director, I just ask other people to help do it for me, so I guess drumming gives me the voice i can’t literally have.

What were the festivals like that you went to before?

There are festivals, even here in socal that you can see at obon festivals. In Japan it’s more one person drumming and people dancing around, but in America its more group drumming, so it’s changed since coming to america. It’s pretty physical – it’s pretty masculine, so i like that girls can play it too. In japan, the oldest groups  didn’t let females play, but it’s been changing and here definitely in america all people can play.

What is one thing you want to do before you graduate/any bucket list items?

I need to ride traveller. And mostly travel, I want to live in a trailer car and just drive around. i really wanna go to south america… I wanna hitch hike across south america!

Is there anything more you’d want to see from APASA this year?

This year we want to work more with other groups too – just joint events, collaborations and I really appreciated the community banquet at the beginning of the year, and I’d want more events like that to get to know more other APASA groups and E-board members.

Is there anything else you’d want to tell us?

Most collegiate taiko groups have an audition process, but i think what makes us special is that we don’t have any audition processes, and we accept everyone. At the beginning of the year, we have our open practice for people to see if they like it . But we want to keep it open to everyone so anyone who’s interested can really have access and learn. Because we’re open to everyone, sometimes maybe our performance level itself isn’t as high as other groups, but we really value the family spirit that comes with it, the fact that it is open to everyone so I think that’s a core part of our vision and values and we want to keep it that way…and this year we got 17 new members which is a pretty big group!

Check out Kazan Taiko on Facebook  to stay updated on Kazan Taiko going-ons, and come out to their Spring Concert on April 12 this year!

Lorna Xu
Publicity Director

Why should we vote?

Hopefully everyone who is eligible to, has already registered to vote by now – whether in California, or through an absentee ballot registration! APASA has been working hard with SCAPE and Troy Phi for our MobilizAsian campaign this past month, successfully registering over 250 students at USC to vote!

But now that registration is over and we all have new APASA tanks to wear and yummy boba in our bellies …the last but most important thing to do is to actually go out and vote on November 4!! 

Why should we vote? And why is it important specifically for API’s to vote? As APIs, historically we haven’t always had our right to vote. With various laws barring us from naturalization, it wasn’t until 1952only 60 years ago, that naturalization became a right under the McCarran-Walter Act, finally allowing all APIs to gain citizenship and therefore voting power.

Looking at statistics of APIs in America today can show you how strong our voting power can be. From 2000-2010, our population has risen 46% making us the fastest growing racial group in the U.S.!  And although we only make up 5% of the population, there are 1.5 million APIs in LA county, and 15% of Californians are API. However, despite this, APIs have one of the lowest voter turnout rates with only 51% registered to vote compared to the 71% registered of all citizens.

But we can turn that around! Many people have fought for our right to vote, and now it’s up to us to use that right and make our voices heard. In the elections this coming November you will be voting for the California State governor, and government representatives as well as 6 propositions to be voted yes or no on:

  • Prop. 1 – Water Bond
  • Prop. 2 – Budget
  • Prop. 45 - Health Insurance
  • Prop. 46 – Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors
  • Prop. 47 – Criminal Sentences
  • Prop. 48 – Indian Casinos

To learn more about what each prop entails, including the opinions for and against each one, check out the Easy Voter Guide where you can get straight forward non-partisan information about each ballot measure.

And to get more information on everything on the ballot including the candidates and more information about the ballot measures check out Voters Edge  another non-partisan site offering information about candidates’ experiences, funding contributions and other valuable information.

Check out the links, and learn more on your own so that by November 4, we’ll all be well informed and ready to vote! :)

On the day, the closest polling place for USC students would be at the USC Caruso Catholic Center - 844 W 32nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90007 which will be open on Nov 4 from 7am – 8pm. 

Or if you would rather vote by mail-in ballot, you can send in an application to vote by mail  by Oct 28 to your county election official. After this is processed, you will be mailed your ballot, which after filling out, you can turn in to a polling place on Nov 4, or send back to your county election official, who must receive it by the time polls close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots won’t be counted! (more information about voting by mail.)

Whichever method you choose, try to get your vote in by Nov 4th so the voices of our community can be heard! :)

P.S. for some inspirasian (ha ha), check out SCAPE’s photo campaign showcasing some of the reason why we are voting!

(also lots of props to Alex Kanegawa, SCAPE president, who put much of this API history and information together for different APASA member orgs’ MobilizAsian workshops  Go SCAPE! ^u^)

Lorna Xu
Publicity Director


Register to Vote

If you were unable to register to vote at one of our events, please find the handy widget on the side of this page! You can now easily register to vote on the website, courtesy of

For any questions, email

Sally Yoo
Master of the Web

An Interview with APA Alum Sami Chau

An exciting new blog post series is going to be featuring alumni spotlights! These are APA alumni that once attended USC and are now part of the Trojan family. Feel free to contact the e-board member for more information.


This week, I was able to interview Samantha Chau, a recent alum who graduated in May 2013 with a B.S. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies and an M.S. Global Medicine in December 2013. She currently works as a progressive degree advisor in the Health Promotion office, and plans to apply to medical school in the near future. Here’s what Sami had to say:

After graduating, what was your path to your current career?

Deciding to take a year (or two) off before applying to med school was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to get my degree in Global Medicine, which essentially was a Master of Science in Helping People Who Need It Most. After graduating with my master’s degree, I applied to work for the program since I loved the program so much and I am applying to medical school this cycle which it takes (at least) a year. The entire GM advising team is staffed by graduates of the program. I was honored to be hired and have really enjoyed working with Dr. Nezami and the GM staff members. My favorite part is getting to meet those of you undergraduate students who are interested in the Global Medicine degree, you’re all so accomplished and amazing it’s incredible.

What is one memorable moment from your time at USC?

Beating UCLA 50-0 in 2011!

What advice do you have for students?

Do what you need to do to not burn out or lose your mind. If that means you stay in and watch Spongebob Squarepants while eating Domino’s in your pajamas, no shame. I’m totally not doing that right now. (I am)
But then go study and ace that midterm.

What career advice do you have for students?

Don’t listen to anyone who says your grades don’t matter. They do. A lot. And not just for medicine. More things in life land in your lap when you demonstrate that you are a hard worker. And I speak as someone who has been on both ends of the good/bad grade spectrum. Do your best.
Strongly consider a gap year, it is so helpful, as long as you do something worthwhile during (like get your master’s degree!)
If you want to go to health professional school, you need to want it 150% and you need to know why. This process is too difficult and expensive to warrant anything less. If you’re not there yet, take a gap year. Sometimes when you’re sitting in organic chemistry hating everything, you forget why you ever wanted to do this, and sometimes you need to intern at a Skid Row shelter or teach dental hygiene to children in Panama to remember.

What is your favorite place to eat in Los Angeles?

Guisados (Taco place 1 mile from HSC, but locations in DTLA and Echo Park as well!) Sampler plate all the way.

Cheyenne Cheung
External Community Chair

National Voter Registration Day: Trojans Take Intiative

With midterm elections coming up this November, and so many critical issues on the table for students to vote for, it’s more important now than ever that students let their voices be heard. This is why APASA, SCAPE, and Troy Philippines are collaborating on a month-long campaign sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, called MobilizASIAN 2014.  The aim of this campaign is to spread awareness and register the Asian Pacific American community both on and off campus to vote. Asian Americans, in particular, have one of the lowest voter turnout rates. In 2012, only 56 percent of Asian Pacific Americans registered to vote. APASA hopes we can bring those numbers up, starting with one of the biggest Asian Pacific American communities we can reach: college students.

To kick things off, we hosted a National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday September 23rd. Students came to a voter registration booth next to Tommy Trojan from 11 am – 2 pm. They signed up on laptops and received a FREE APASA tank top with all of the 21 member organizations listed on the back. Before we knew it, the tank tops were all out and within just three hours, we registered 117 students to vote! This is a great accomplishment for the APA community at USC, but it doesn’t stop here. Our campaign continues until October 20, so stay on the lookout for more ways to make your voice heard. After all, your voice matters!

Also, a huge shout out to one of APASA’s Publicity Directors, Lorna Xu. Her graphics for MobilizASIAN 2014 were discovered in New York and loved by the president of SUNY Albany’s Asian American Alliance! Just goes to show the power of social media and our individual capabilities of creating change. Vote on Trojans!

Alex Kanegawa, SCAPE president, helps students registeter to vote on Tuesday.

Alex Kanegawa, SCAPE president, helps students register to vote on Tuesday.

APASA Executive Board members model the cool tank tops students received when they registered to vote.

APASA Executive Board members model the tank tops students received when they registered to vote.

Graphics for MobilizASIAN 2014, you can spot many of the E-board members with this as their profile pic or cover photo.

You can spot many of the APASA E-board members with this graphic as their Facebook profile pic or cover photo.

Sucharita Yellapragada
APASA External Community Chair