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ASU celebrates Asian culture at 2nd annual assembly

Asian+Student+Union+officers+and+advisers+on+stage+after+the+assembly+%28from+left+to+right%29.++Row+1%3A+Co-adviser+Kim+Dang%2C+Junior+Zoya+Tajuddin%2C+Senior+Alex+Chang%2C+Senior+Kabir+Gupta%2C+Co-adviser+Angela+Lee%2C+Senior+Margaret+Yang.+Row+2%3A+Senior+Sarah+Yi%2C+Freshman+Aidan+Chen%2C+Junior+Grace+Wang%2C+Senior+Angel+Zhao%2C+Senior+Esther+Tzau.+PHOTO%2FKaitlyn+Meslin
Asian Student Union officers and advisers on stage after the assembly (from left to right).  Row 1: Co-adviser Kim Dang, Junior Zoya Tajuddin, Senior Alex Chang, Senior Kabir Gupta, Co-adviser Angela Lee, Senior Margaret Yang. Row 2: Senior Sarah Yi, Freshman Aidan Chen, Junior Grace Wang, Senior Angel Zhao, Senior Esther Tzau. PHOTO/Kaitlyn Meslin

Asian Student Union officers and advisers on stage after the assembly (from left to right). Row 1: Co-adviser Kim Dang, Junior Zoya Tajuddin, Senior Alex Chang, Senior Kabir Gupta, Co-adviser Angela Lee, Senior Margaret Yang. Row 2: Senior Sarah Yi, Freshman Aidan Chen, Junior Grace Wang, Senior Angel Zhao, Senior Esther Tzau. PHOTO/Kaitlyn Meslin

Asian Student Union officers and advisers on stage after the assembly (from left to right). Row 1: Co-adviser Kim Dang, Junior Zoya Tajuddin, Senior Alex Chang, Senior Kabir Gupta, Co-adviser Angela Lee, Senior Margaret Yang. Row 2: Senior Sarah Yi, Freshman Aidan Chen, Junior Grace Wang, Senior Angel Zhao, Senior Esther Tzau. PHOTO/Kaitlyn Meslin

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Asian Student Union officers and advisers on stage after the assembly (from left to right). Row 1: Co-adviser Kim Dang, Junior Zoya Tajuddin, Senior Alex Chang, Senior Kabir Gupta, Co-adviser Angela Lee, Senior Margaret Yang. Row 2: Senior Sarah Yi, Freshman Aidan Chen, Junior Grace Wang, Senior Angel Zhao, Senior Esther Tzau. PHOTO/Kaitlyn Meslin

   Intense energy and passion lit up the WHS auditorium stage April 11. A lot of pressure was put on Asian Student Union to surpass last year’s exceptional assembly, and sure enough, ASU exceeded people’s expectations at the second annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month assembly (APAHM).

   From the debut of the student-led Korean pop group to the immigration video created by the school community, the APAHM celebrated the diversity of Asian culture. The underlying theme of this year’s assembly was the model minority myth, which seniors Angel Zhao and Esther Tzau shared in a speech at the assembly.

   According to the University of California, Berkeley, the phrase “model minority” can be described as “a non-white group that has achieved economic success and societal acceptance through hard work and conservative values.”

   “For Asian-Americans specifically, we see that the idea of the model minority overshadows overlooked communities and ethnic groups because although Asian-Americans inhabit both ends of the achievement spectrum, only one end is really talked about,” Tzau and Zhao said in their speech.

   ASU focused on defining what it means to be “Asian” for their predominantly student audience.

   “I hoped people learned that the term “Asian” encompasses many diverse ethnic groups (not just Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese),” Zhao said. “The bigger groups of Asian descent tend to affect averages significantly, showing that “Asians” are excelling in certain aspects such as academics and income when it reality some Asian ethnic groups are falling below average, but are overshadowed.”

   ASU interspersed the assembly with electrifying performances to celebrate the diversity of Asian-Americans.

   “There was a good mix of entertainment, but also more serious messages, especially with the video, Angel and Esther’s short presentation at the end about the model minority myth, and the presentation by the Muslim Student Association about their work for refugees,” co-adviser Angela Lee said.

   The assembly also shone light on cultural aspects of Asian culture.

   Senior Alex Chang captivated the audience’s attention with his talent for Chinese yo-yo, but a deeper relationship lay beneath the tricks.

   “Yo-yo is my connection to my roots – back in Taiwan, the Chinese yoyo is so integrated into culture that it’s sometimes a mandatory class,” Chang said.

   Performing yo-yo reminds Chang of his ancestors’ origins.

   “Whenever I perform, I’m conveying to the audience who I am and where I came from, and I’m proud of it.”

   Chang is also a member of the Chinese Folk Art Workshop (CFAW), which is a performance group that increases awareness of Chinese culture in the Boston area. According to Chang, he has been a performer his entire life and cherishes every moment he spends on stage.

   The assembly platform has given Chang an opportunity to celebrate his Asian heritage in front of a large audience.

   “Being able to perform in front of the whole school and sending a broader message across is honestly a dream come true,” Chang said. “Nothing really comes close to doing what you really love while leaving a lasting legacy in the process.”

   Similar to Chang, senior Esther Tzau shared her incredible singing talent when she nailed Listen by Beyonce. According to Tzau, Listen is an empowering song that individuals and minority groups can relate to.

   “Specifically, the model minority myth has caused the needs of many Asian-American communities to be ignored, and this song expresses the importance of being heard,” Tzau said. “Personally, I was terrified for this performance—I never do this kind of thing—but when I found myself standing on stage before the entire school, I internalized the lyrics and emotions of the song and let loose.”

    According to Lee, these types of assemblies aren’t just to entertain, but also to educate.

   “Asians are one of the fastest growing minority groups in America, and also the most misunderstood, so we hope to host an assembly on an annual basis to be a part of the education for our community,” Lee said.

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ASU celebrates Asian culture at 2nd annual assembly