Asian/Pacific Islander Student Alliance

CULTURE: An overview of a new club at East. Written by Ally Yager. Published in September 2019.

With the start of each new school year comes new teachers and classes, waves of underclassmen, and reconnections with friends and peers. It can be a daunting, thrilling endeavor to some, or more of a dread-filled, weary journey for others, but whatever your perspective is, it’s unavoidable to go on without several new opportunities presenting themselves to you: school musicals, sports tryouts, AP classes, and the like. One of the largest, most fun school-wide events is the club fair, which gives students the chance to join multiple student-led organizations and make lots of new friends who share similar interests. 

One of the new clubs you may not have seen or heard of before is the Asian/Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APSA). The club is lead by President Kai Vong and Vice President Cindy Liang, two students who are now juniors at East High School. Similar to other groups like the Black Student Alliance, Latino Students United, and the Indigenous Club, APSA was created for the purpose of uniting those who are curious, affected by, or intrigued by the cultures represented in the club. 

What’s the goal of this club?

Both of the founders claim that the main goal is to have a safe space for Asian students to speak freely about how they’re feeling and their experiences, and to raise awareness about diversity through education. “We just want other people to know we’re here. We’re equal, and we want respect and recognition for everybody,” Vong says. 

The club presidents agree that the labels and destructive assumptions surrounding the Asian community can be very damaging. Liang explains, “A well-known stigma surrounding Asians is definitely the ‘model-minority’ myth. I could go into detail, but to keep it short, the ‘model-minority’ myth is expecting a demographic group to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average. This not only creates stress and pressure, but also contributes to various stereotypes. But I believe that stereotypes are born from misunderstandings and ignorance. On that note, I will do whatever I can for the club to combat those stereotypes and establish awareness.” 

According to the school demographics, there are only 2.1 percent of students at East High School who identify as Asian/Pacific Islander. That means it’s incredibly easy to be overlooked or forgotten about, being such a small population. For a school that claims to be so proud of its diverse student body, why isn’t everybody acknowledged and appreciated to the same degree?

Fortunately, the club leaders have a plan to make APSA known school-wide. They say it will be extremely beneficial to speak at equity forums and lead assemblies, taking a progressive approach by communicating with dedicated faculty and getting their involvement, along with speaking to leaders of other cultural/racial student groups at East. 

What does this club actually do?

Vong and Liang already have a plethora of fun and engaging activities planned. “Every meeting will be mostly student-led, so we’ll be doing, really, whatever we feel like,” Vong shares. “It’ll just be a safe place to hang out and form connections.” 

Liang adds, “We plan on hosting a space for discussions, as well as activities to promote ourselves and have fun together, especially during the holidays. Since learning about Asian culture is a benefit, we’ll also have topics every meeting which can range from recent or upcoming events, traditions, cuisine, and even myths and folktales from various Asian cultures!” 

The student-led APSA alliance hold bi-weekly meetings on Tuesdays in Room 122. Everyone and anyone is welcome to attend. Inclusivity, open mindedness and a good attitude are strongly admired core values of the group. Please see our faculty sponsor, Ms. Ya-Wen Chang, if you have any questions.  Feel free to come and show your support anytime, and we hope to see you there!