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USC Traditional Chinese Dance 11th Annual Showcase: Interwoven

On Saturday, March 26, 2016, USC Traditional Chinese Dance held their showcase of the year. This year the group took a more traditional approachable with their dances. USC APASA intern Aimee Xu writes more about the show.  This past Saturday, USC Traditional Chinese Dance provided the USC community with a delightful conclusion to the first week back of spring break with their 11th annual showcase, ‘Interwoven.’ The theme of TCD’s 2016 showcase focuses on their encounters with those whom have profoundly changed their lives.

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The show opened with color, as the dancers in ‘Springtime’ showcased vibrant green scarves and pink and purple fans. The first half of ‘Interwoven’ featured a variety of dances, many of which incorporated both Eastern and Western elements. In ‘Against All Odds,’ the dramatic choreography by Jessica Koe bridged Chinese and Western cultures through traditional Chinese dance elements and music by Lorde. ‘Jade Dolls,’ also incorporated multiple cultures, as traditional Chinese dance met traditional Korean percussion, as performed by USC Haneulsori.

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The second of half of the show featured the dramatic plot of the ancient Chinese tale, “The Cowherd and the Weaving Maiden.” The Cowherd, Thinh Nguyen, and the Weaving Maiden, Jessica Koe, fall in love, but the Ruler of Heaven, Jade Shi, forbids the two from being with one another. In ‘Battle in the Heavens,’ a dramatic fight scene featuring members of Wushu Nation ultimately concludes in the separation of the two lovers, as the Ruler of Heaven forges a river between earth and heaven. In ‘Celestial Ties,’ birds flock together to create a bridge and reunite the lovers as a romantic conclusion to ‘Interwoven.’

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Thank you to all the TCD performers and USC Haneulsori and Wushu Nation! The performance was done with such grace and beauty! We look forward to your showcase next year!

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Aimee Xu

USA APASA Intern

CASA Culture Show

  Hi readers! One of our lovely APASA interns Tiffany Chen attended our CASA member org's culture show last Saturday. Read to find out what the show was about. 

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A refreshing break from studies and classes, CASA’s 17th annual culture show, directed by Emily Levin and Jason Chen, played during the midst of midterm season on March 5, 2016. Starring Jon Lau and Holly Liu, this year’s culture show, ‘Triads and Tribulations’, was a sequel to last year’s show, ‘Triad and Tested’.

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In ‘Triads and Tribulations’, audience members follow the life of Jon, the son of Andy Lau, who left his life behind with the Triad gang. Originally unaware of his lineage as Triad boss, Jon balances his school life as a pre-med and pre-law student with his love life.  His love interest, Nicole, is an aggressive dancer chick who really knows how to pack a punch. Jon and Nicole have instant chemistry, and when Jon is kidnapped by the Triads, it is Nicole, along with her friends, who ultimately saves him.

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With a script full of humor and league references, ‘Triads and Tribulations’ had audience members laughing out loud. The show’s song choices between scenes also had more than a few spectators dancing in their seats. There were memorable performances by Trogons Acapella and the dance crew Chaotic 3. The show was so popular that even CASA partner organizations from other schools, such as UC Irvine and UCLA, came out in support. CASA’s 17th annual culture show was a success and a fun time was had by all who attended.

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Tiffany Chen

APASA Intern

Keeping it Fresh: A Conversation with Constance Wu

USC APASA held their signature speaker event for APAHF  this year on February 16th. This year we brought the lovely Constance Wu, best known for her role as Jessica Huang from the ABC hit comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” to the campus. With over 400 RSVPs, even an hour before the event, people were lining up outside of Bovard Auditorium - anxious and excited to meet one of the entertainment’s leading Asian American women.  

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Wu talked about her experience in the entertainment business as minority and her journey in learning about her own Asian American identity. She discussed her struggles towards her aspirations from attending in Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Conservatory for Theatre Arts at S.U.N.Y. Purchase to acting in commercials for McDonalds to finally making it big. Passionate about her acting craft and having studied much of drama, Constance couldn’t help but find it tragic that her claim to fame was through comedy. The event was conducted in a interview style as she responded to questions from MCs Lorna Xu and Jonathan Wang. Audience members even got their chance to ask their own questions. After the event, lucky attendees were given the opportunity for a meet-and-greet with Constance Wu at TCC!

 

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One of Wu’s themes throughout the night was systematic racism and diversity, particularly in the arts. When asked whether she believed the reason there was a lack of Asian American artists was because of a lack of support from the culture, she rejected the thought.

"Creativity can mean so many things and to say the Asian American community doesn't foster creativity, that's false and not fair to say," said Wu.

The "Fresh Off the Boat" actress also took the opportunity to criticize the culture of entertainment business and the those that run the system. She questioned why in romantic movies such as “The Notebook” that the female lead is always sweet and beautiful, rather than overweight and with acne. Addressing the issue of stereotypes and breaking away from them, she acknowledged that in races there will always be the “dweeb” and the “hunk” but neither should make us cringe. This brought up the issue of ignorance of diversity within the director and producer community. In one of the most powerful statements that night, Wu said, “Creators need to have an awareness of what they’re creating and to not use ignorance as an excuse.”

Constance Wu is truly an inspiration and advocate for the APA community. As she continues to tell our story through her time on “Fresh Off the Boat”, she also hopes to eventually bring to light the many other stories of our community. Many students were ecstatic to meet her and expressed their gratitude towards her for being a positive role model. On behalf of USC, we would like to thank Constance Wu for joining us and inspiring many of us in our individual journeys as members of the APA community.

 

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Stefanie Kuizon

APASA Intern

API Activism: Where Do We Fit in the Black Lives Matter Movement?

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Su, one of the APASA interns for this year. Last Wednesday, February 10 was our first APASA-sponsored APAHF event, “API Activism: Where do we fit in the Black Lives Matter movement?” Since February is Black History Month, we decided to incorporate API solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement into our original discussion topics of the history and current issues in API activism. The event featured a short presentation on the history of API activism, followed by a panel discussion with various API activist leaders in the community.

 

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The panelists talked about a variety of topics, ranging from their work in activism and the API communities, their politicization, their involvement with Black Lives Matter, and how they address anti-blackness in their lives. Ren-Yo Hwang spoke on their work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and how by talking with the prisoners, they were able to see firsthand the injustices that arise from stereotypes and biases. One story Ren-Yo shared involved a woman who had served much longer time in prison than her Asian friend who had actually planned the theft. This difference of rulings was related to racial stereotypes and the friend’s connections that allowed her to get a lighter sentence. Ren-Yo also discussed the discrimination that queer and transgender people face in dealing with the law.

When asked about how they became politicized in the first place, the panelists told stories about their life experiences and the activist work they have done. Calvin Chang spoke about how where he worked, a police officer mistook the Asian Pacific Islander man as the offender they had reported instead of the white man, pinned him against the wall, and threatened to use his gun. Calvin had to explain that the white man was the person he should have been arresting, and that instance showed him how ingrained racial stereotypes are in society and the law enforcement in particular.

In discussing their involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement, all panelists spoke on the importance of the API community showing solidarity with the Black community. Many of them also mentioned how being in those communities has also allowed them to make lifelong friends and create bonds that reach beyond activist work. Sasha Wijeyeratne spoke about their experiences specifically with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and the connections they have made within the Queer People of Color, Asian Pacific Islander, and South Asian communities.

All panelists emphasized the importance of getting involved in social justice issues in any way possible and addressing anti-blackness in daily life. Referring to what students can do to get involved now, Andy Su talked about his work with API Equality-LA that actually started from his time at USC.

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After an interesting panel discussion, various student participants asked engaging questions about the panelists’ work and what students can do to combat injustice at this point in their lives. In general, the event was extremely informative and gave new perspectives on what role APIs play in social justice movements.

 

Michelle Su

APASA Intern

UC Irvine’s 31st Annual Asian Pacific American Awareness Conference

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Hello! My name is Thanya Chat and I’m an APASA intern currently shadowing Vivian, our Internal Community Chair.

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Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending UC Irvine’s 31st Annual Asian Pacific American Awareness Conference (APAAC), which brought together delegations of students from all over Southern California to hold important discussions on race, disempowerment, LGBT rights, and more within an API context.

The theme, “Hyphenated: Navigating Identities,” provided a strong foundation for the presentations and workshops that took place, as well in investigating, celebrating, and raising awareness for Asian Pacific Islander communities.

The conference began with an opening keynote from activist and author Deepa Iyer. Her presentation and personal narratives addressing hate crimes and marginalization of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asian communities emphasized the importance of taking a stand against injustice.

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Former USC APASS director and current Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity at Harvey Mudd College, Sami Pendakur, also presented regarding campus activism and the need for social action and change. Her presentation focused on increasing social justice and moving towards more equitable practices on a local, regional, and national scale.  

The third and final keynote speaker then wrapped up the conference with a passionate and personally meaningful speech on the school to prison to deportation pipeline. A well-known activist and project director at the Community Youth Center of San Francisco, much of his work focuses on a commitment to aiding youth and working towards more inclusivity for APIs.

Alongside these inspiring and informative speeches, APAAC also featured performances from several of UCI’s cultural organizations, as well as opportunities to participate in workshops covering topics from cross-cultural adoption to gender identity.

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Ultimately, the event was successful in creating a respectful and safe space for honest discussions and the exchange of personal stories. Through attending APAAC, I was able to learn a lot about my cultural identity, as well as how I can help break barriers and improve conditions for APIs socially, politically, and economically. I would highly encourage anyone and everyone who may be interested to attend the conference next year, as it is sure to be a very meaningful experience.

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Thanya Chat

APASA Intern

Triad and Tested

There has never been a story as intriguing and heartwarming as the one of a son of a Chinese mafia and his high school sweetheart. In CASA's 16th annual culture show, the group put on a play featuring the story of Andy Lau, the son of a Hong Kong triad boss. Faced with the problem of not having a green card, he fakes a marriage with his American best friend Kelly. However, their seemingly simple plan quickly turns into a story of love and adventure filled with family problems, problematic gangs, and immigration officers. The whole audience was kept on their feet as they watched Andy escape a life of organized crime and Kelly get away with fraud. 

Intermixed within this charming love story are traditional and contemporary cultural groups such as the Trogons, USC's own East Asian Acapella group, Traditional Chinese Dance, CASA's Hip Hop Dance Project and last but not least, WuShu Nation. Their talents ranged from singing to popular Chinese songs, dancing to beautifully choreographed moves, rocking out to upbeat, modern music and mastering the art of sword movements. All these groups culminated into an awesome show filled with Chinese culture and history that fascinated the entire student body of USC.

Even though this event only happens once a year, it is a good reminder to all Asian American students of what their heritage and culture means. It is so easy to lose track of what traditions Chinese people partook in thousands of years ago, but to see that history reenacted through the different performances we had, students were able to relate back to their culture once again. Although presented in a cheerful manner, the issues highlighted in the play still remain problematic for some Asian Americans today. Lack of green cards, immigration biases and even gang violence ring true for many Asian Americans. It's necessary to recognize these problems so that in the future, we as an Asian Pacific American community can tackle those issues together. All in all, it was awesome seeing so many Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans come out and support such an Amazing show put on by a group of students who had been working on this show since May of 2014. I'm excited for what they have in store for us next year! And of course, fight on!

Check out CASA's fb page!

Jamie Intern