Asian Americans, public policy, and student events

31 Jan

Asian Americans and Public Policy

This past Wednesday, Saymoukda and I went to the U of MN to speak at the Asian American Partners for Tomorrow Discussion Series: Asian Americans and Public Policy. We had a good turnout and we started the conversation with an introduction of our agency and the importance of Asian Pacific individuals being engaged in public affairs.

Many of the students followed with questions similar to the ones I grappled with during my undergraduate days at UMN:

“Who gets counted under the Asian Pacific umbrella? And once you figure that out, what do we really have in common between the many Asian Pacific ethnicities and communities? How do we unite around APA issues that we don’t necessarily feel connected or identify with?”

To this day, it’s still difficult to articulate the APA identity when we come from so many different backgrounds. Perhaps the simple truth is that the APA identity is still a work in progress that we are all personally shaping. However, I believe it’s important to get involved in addressing the issues that affect the APA community. Issues like the educational achievement gap, increased cases of hepatitis B, and lack of APA bone marrow donors are not going to stop and wait for us to solve the identity question. Nor is it helpful when we allow others to address these issues for us without the personal knowledge and experience that we collectively have.

In any case, Saymoukda and I were able to meet a few students who were interested in interning or volunteering with us and we’re still happily accepting help in many areas (policy research, events planning, outreach, arts programing). If you happen to be interested in getting involved too, please reach out to me at brian.kao at (replace “at” with @) or leave a comment.

It was wonderful to meet with the students at UMN and I wanted to mention that Minnesota will be treated to not one but two large APIA student events this spring (see below).


Minnesota State University, Mankato will be holding their 6th annual Asian Pacific American Conference (APAC) on March 25th & 26th, 2011. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers, Creating Pathways for Future Generations.”

The conference’s mission is to educate future generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) on issues pertaining to their lives such as education, leadership, wellness and many more.

For more details, visit


The Midwest Asian American Students Union’s 2011 Spring Conference will be held at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities on April 8-9, 2011. More info to come at

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