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