Tag Archives: challenge

Anti-Asian Violence During the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Tiffany Hsia

[4 minute read]

Editor’s Note

The Covid-19 crisis has brought forth a multitude of social and economic impacts which no one could have foreseen. One of these impacts has been an increased rate of violence towards the Asian-American community. In light of the recent Atlanta spa shootings, wherein six Asian women were shot by a white man, the violence resulting from anti-Asian hate speech has surfaced in particularly harmful way. If you are interested in looking into more resources that can help educate you on this systemic issue, there are many readily available online. One that I found to be particularly helpful was this article from Learning for Justice entitled How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism. This is a helpful guide for any non-native English speaker who is unsure of how to effectively speak up in a potentially racist or xenophobic situation. Below, ALI Conversation Partner Tiffany Hsia has written on her experience with anti-Asian sentiments and what we can all do to combat this problem.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

Growing up as a first-generation Asian American in the Bay Area of California was not easy. My parents immigrated from Taiwan in the 90s, and English is not their first language. I saw how they had to struggle with the language barrier when I was young, and when I first started to attend elementary school, I was made fun of for pronouncing certain words differently. I had learned my pronunciation from my parents who had an accent on certain words, so I didn’t understand what was different when I was younger. As I grew older, I started to notice more and more differences. A particularly notable difference I saw as a child was that no one I saw on TV was Asian-American. While it may seem small, millions of people look up to celebrities as role models, and to see so few Asian Americans represented in Hollywood was disheartening. Asians are considered to be a minority in the United States; however, they are seen as “white adjacent”. Asian Americans are perceived as successful, and people do not see them as oppressed compared to other minorities such as African Americans or Hispanics. However, Asian Americans are still at a disadvantage in many areas and underrepresentation in media is just one example of that.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Similarly, during this pandemic, there has been a recent increase in violence towards Asian Americans. Many think this is a direct result of Former President Trump making statements about the Asian community, such as calling coronavirus the “ China virus”. This only provoked more harassment towards Asian Americans resulting in widespread outrage. In Chinatown in Oakland, California, a 91-year-old man was pushed facedown into a cement sidewalk during an unprovoked attack. As a result, many elderly Asian Americans living in the Bay Area are afraid to leave their houses. These attacks have recently gathered media attention, as more people in the US are becoming aware of the systemic racism and social inequality occurring in light of the pandemic.

As someone who is Asian American, I am appalled at the state of our country. The United States is known to be a safe haven to many people and is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Violence against others should never be tolerated. While change is difficult, more people need to be aware that the US is built on systemic racism. Although it may be difficult to change the foundations that built the US, I believe that with education and awareness, small changes can be made to eventually overcome the disadvantages minorities face.

Continue reading Anti-Asian Violence During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Facing a Changing Path with an Open Mind

By Vincent Yang

Starting something new can be quite daunting – whether it is starting a new job after quitting your first, settling in with a new roommate after moving out from your old college dorm, or declaring a new major after leaving your former field of interest. While those who are motivated by new challenges would be thrilled to charge into the great unknown, most people would feel apprehensive about stepping outside of their comfort zone and walking down a new path in their life. Let’s face it – fear is a primal human emotion that everyone has felt at least once in their lives, and facing uncertainty will arouse a degree of fear in anyone who is about to start something new. However, if you were faced with a situation where you had to decide whether to stick with the familiar ways of life that no longer interest you or to take a leap of faith towards a path untraveled, what would you do?

The year 2016 was a crucial yet tumultuous year in my academic career. Back then, I was a Ph.D. student in the field of Organic Chemistry. It was not that I was performing poorly academically, but more that I was losing interest in the field that I was working in. Having studied chemistry for 4 years throughout my undergraduate years and excelling academically in that field, I was convinced that chemical research was the right career path for me and remained in that field through graduate school. However, after my first year into the program I started to feel something was amiss. Even though my experiments and projects were going smoothly, the fervor I had when I first undertook my research project for faculty labs was no longer there, and nothing in this field seemed to stimulate me as much as it used to. In short, I was losing interest in the academic field I had centered my life around.

Photo from Unsplash

The loss of interest must have been quite obvious to others: My Primary Investigator (the person guiding me in my research project) and I had a long talk about this, and he suggested that maybe organic chemistry was not the right field for me. He proposed two options – if I truly thought chemistry was what I wanted to study, I could stay in his lab, but I would have to put more enthusiasm into my work; otherwise, I could switch disciplines to some other field in chemistry or find another academic field that interests me more. If I were to go with the latter option, I would either join a different research group of my interest in the chemistry department or leave the chemistry department altogether and join another department. That meant I would have to start over with a different project or delve into another unexplored academic field.

Throughout the 10 months after that discussion with my professor, my life went through a sharp turn of sorts. I would get into intermittent arguments with my family over my decision, fervent discussions with my friends in New York about possible options, and numerous advising sessions with various career/academic advising officers on campus to seek advice about what to do. For nearly 6 years of my life after high school graduation I had been studying only chemistry and related scientific disciplines and had no experience in any other field. Oftentimes I got conflicting suggestions from everyone: I had one person tell me that starting over completely in an undergraduate institution for a second bachelor’s degree could work out; another source told me that I should jump straight into the job market with a master’s degree in chemistry; a third suggestion was to seek a job in a different field other than chemistry after completing some useful certificate programs. Ultimately, the decision was up to me – I had to make a choice from all the options available to me based on my interests, priorities, and any constraining factors.

In the end, I decided to stick with advice from a close friend of mine and a family friend who worked as a software engineer in a Banking firm based in Manhattan: Learn how to program and look for a job as a programmer. When my friend first suggested this idea I found it to be quite preposterous: I didn’t know where to begin, had no idea how a computer program worked, and just looking at the work stations of engineering students scared the wits out of me. How on Earth would I learn how to code at all? Fortunately this good friend of mine was patient enough to direct me to the right points where I would learn the very basics of coding. He first directed me to Codeacademy, an online website dedicated to teaching various programming languages to people who wished to begin programming. It wasn’t a major step, like attending a boot camp for programmers and jumping straight into the job market, but it was a start. After taking several online courses, I found them quite engrossing and decided to continue learning and laying down the groundwork for understanding how to write a program.

Continue reading Facing a Changing Path with an Open Mind

“And 1, 2, 3, and 4. Any questions?”

By Leanne Park

There were a couple murmurs, but no one raised their voice.  It was a warm August night, way too warm for the 50 or so of us to be learning a hip hop dance on the third floor of a parking structure and yet, there we were.  With sweat dripping down everyone’s faces, everyone seemed focused on learning the audition piece, but no one seemed particularly frustrated.  Everyone except for me, that is.

Brows furrowed and lips pursed in irritation, I probably did not look approachable by any means.  I had danced all throughout high school, even performing at pep rallies in front of hundreds of students, but, at the time of this audition, I hadn’t danced for two years and it was hitting me pretty hard that my skills had turned rusty. Even though it was the first of three audition days for USC’s competitive dance team, Chaotic 3, and we had two more days to practice the dance before the actual audition,  my heart sank as unflagging doubt seized and took over my initial hopes of making the team.

I contemplated not going through with the final audition.  I discussed it with multiple people, complaining about how hard the piece was, and voicing my doubts.  However, something told me not to give up that easily.  I was a transfer student who fought for my admission to USC and I was determined to make the most of my two years as a Trojan.  In my head, I imagined myself being on a USC dance team and I knew that I would hate myself forever if I didn’t at least try.  So for the next two days, I practiced the dance feverishly, watched the video of the choreographer a million times, and performed it in front of any and every mirror that I came upon.  I wanted to impress the team more than ever. Continue reading “And 1, 2, 3, and 4. Any questions?”