Report: 50 Percent Of Asian American Students In NYC Schools Say They’ve Been Bullied

Meeting Mark Takano

I had the unique opportunity of meeting U.S. Representative Mark Takano of California at a campaign event for Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino on May 28th, 2013. Rep. Sciortino is currently running for Ed Markey’s congressional seat and Rep. Takano was giving him, his formal endorsement.

Takano’s election made history in 2012 when he was elected as the first gay Asian American to the U.S. Congress. He also became the first Democrat to be elected in California’s 41st District, one of the state’s highly Republican districts, in a long time. His district primarily includes Riverside and Moreno Valley.

During the event, Takano and I discussed the current immigration bill being debated in the U.S. Senate. He expressed his confidence that the bill will pass because of the significant Republican votes. Although they do not like the bill, Republicans are being pressured by their interest groups such as the Chamber of Commerce to vote for it. However, Takano, being part of the gay community, voiced his disappointment about the LGBT couples exemption component not being included in the final bill. He did have high hopes that the US Supreme Court could take action in overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, despite concerns whether the institution of marriage could go back to the states.

In addition to immigration, the Representative is passionate about social security, and Medicare/Medicaid issues as well as education.  When he entered Congress, he and Congressmen Alan Grayson drafted a letter stating they will vote against cuts to Medicare/Medicaid issues and social security.  Furthermore, as a former teacher in the Rialto Unified School District, Takano plans to focus his work on increasing access to education for minority students.  He has co-sponsored the House Version of Student Loan Fairness Act, Equal Access to Quality Education Act, and Project Ready STEM Act.

Overall, I felt very honored to meet him and look forward to see his future actions in Congress.

Watching “Model Minority: Do the Math”


On Monday, I attended a movie showing, hosted by the MA Governor’s Asian American Commission, entitled “Model Minority: Do the Math”. The movie was created and produced by Teja Arboleda and Darby Li Po Price. The documentary closely examines the lives of Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) students in University of Illinois, Chicago and dealing with the popular myth that all Asian Americans are hard workers and high overachievers and don’t complain about anything. Therefore, they do not need any form of outside help or service.

However, the documentary emphasize that this belief has become a barrier for Asian Americans preventing them from seeking opportunities and services such as academic assistance and counseling and other social services that are available to other students of color especially within a school setting (with the exception of universities like USC and Harvard). This disparity has become a significant social issue among AAPI and serious mental health problems and risks. According to the 2001-2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 18% of Pacific Islander high school students attempted suicide, the highest in any group. Moreover, most AAPI students often feel alone and isolated because they don’t have people to talk to about their problems or seek help.  In addition, because the AAPI demographic is diverse of various ethnicities and nationalities, schools lack the resources to help distinct and individual types of groups. Instead they just lump all of the AAPI students into one box.

Moreover, this myth narrows the career paths for AAPI individuals specifically within the science and engineering fields, leaving them with an idea that they should all grow up to be doctors, engineers, and scientists. The movie emphasized when Asian Americans try to break out of those fields, they are greeted with criticism and judgment by their peers, parents and teachers and Non-Asians. I found this segment especially disheartening. There was one particular Indian student, interviewed by the film makers, stated rather solemnly she will be pursuing a medical career. But then, you later see her hiding in the library and secretly sketching elaborate clothing designs, clearly illustrating her desire to become a fashion designer (knowing that would be looked down upon). There were definitely a large number of AAPI students who stated that they wished they had taken more art and music classes to pursue their creativity and expression along with their math and science and other “practical” courses.

Towards the end of the documentary, there was some sort of a happy ending. The “closeted-artsy” students actually “rebelled” and changed their course work from science to the arts! (Yay!) Furthermore,  students at the University of Illinois, Chicago and AAPI faculty collaborate and work together to educate non-AAPI faculty and University staff about AAPI students and how to work with them and the need to provide them, the same sources, they provide to other students.

After finishing watching this documentary, I realized how lucky I was growing up to have parents and a supported community to not push me into a specific career path. My parents let me pursue my inner passions for the arts by participating in show choir and high school women’s choir and being in musicals and playing the violin and taking dance classes. They supported the college/career path I wanted to pursue. Moreover, when I had trouble in school either academically or socially, my school would offer counseling services and academic help services to make sure I am caught up. Overall, I hope more and more people watch this documentary and dispel their notions of the model minority and realize this demographic group need as many opportunities and resources to succeed as all students.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Kickoff


On the first day of May, I attended the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Kickoff at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston. The event was hosted by Governor Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission with a wonderful performance by the Boston Chinese Folk Dance Group (a troop of cute and sweet and talented little girls in pretty outfits!). Prominent guests included State Representative Keiko Orral, Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, and Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong (she is the first minority mayor in Fitchburg and the first female Asian American mayor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) with Governor Patrick delivering the keynote speech.

However, I thought the most inspiring and moving speeches were given by ordinary individuals of immigrant backgrounds including a high school senior at Boston Latin Academy, Chup Chiu and Simon, principal of the Josiah Quincy Elementary School.  Chup talked about being a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong and experiencing difficulties and frustration in elementary school in America because of the language barrier. He was able to overcome that challenge by being part of the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center and joining and eventually becoming captain of his high school volleyball team.  Chup is now planning to attend UMASS Lowell and major in Architecture.  Simon talked about coming to this country and originally studying Economics. After he graduated, Simon was approached to be a substitute teacher and he has been in the Education field ever since. He proudly talked about the notable accomplishments of his school such has having art and music curriculum being 80 percent of the school day (a big rarity in this “teaching to the test” environment). Furthermore, Leland Cheung specifically discussed his experience being the first Asian American member of the Cambridge city councilor (as well as the youngest), coming from a Physics and Aerospace Engineering background. He also talked about living in a country like the United States and having the opportunity as an immigrant to become a city councilor and understanding his parents’ sacrifice after going back to their home country for vacation and seeing how his cousins lived.

Moreover, having studied public policy, it was definitely an encouragement to see a number of Asian Americans in the public service sector (like those mentioned previously) from court judges to mayors and state senators. And thanks to the Governor, the number of Asian Americans serving in the Executive cabinet rose significantly.

Bad for Bobby

What’s Going On?

Suzy Khimm writes about the economic impact of Hurricane Sandy 

MSNBC’s Alex Wagner named as one of the Next Wave of Political Pundits 

According to the New York Observer, Asian Americans have become the New Jews in the city’s elite schools

Survivor winner Yul Kwon discusses Asian American Success Stories

Books I Recommend: Delightfully Different by D.S Walker

I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting this fabulous author, D.S. Walker while I was at a conference in Hawaii. Walker wrote a wonderful novel entitled, Delightfully Different, a story loosely based on the life of the author and her daughter. Delightfully Different is about a little Asian American/Pacific Islander girl named Mia and her mother, Francesca and their relationship. Mia loves music and enjoys composing songs on the piano. However, as the novel progresses, Mia obtains sensory issues like not liking her feet to touch the grass or talking on the phone. Her family can’t figure out what her problems. The problems worsen as Mia enters 5th grade where she is bullied by her classmate and the school counselor does nothing to help her, only make her feel guiltier. It is then discovered that Mia has Asperger’s Syndrome. Through the support of their family, Mia and Francesca’s relationship experiences leaps and boundaries as they learn more about Asperger’s Syndrome, try to implement anti-bullying strategies and policies in Mia’s elementary school and Mia learning to forgive those around her and their ignorance of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Even though Mia is bullied because she has Asperger’s Syndrome, her story can definitely relate to all children and young adults who currently experience bullying and/or have been bullied and their parents. Her story emphasizes the fact there needs to be more education and services especially for public schools and families on Asperger’s Syndrome and children with Asperger’s Syndrome need support, strong communication and love from especially from their family. In the book, Mia struggles with her relationship with her father and paternal grandmother as they do not fully grasp their understanding of Mia’s diagnosis. In addition, the story highlights cultural misunderstandings particularly between first generation Asian American immigrants and their grandchildren. This is shown between Mia wondering why her father and grandmother always having high expectations of her academically but do not show her any sense of affection and sympathy as she struggles through her Asperger’s syndrome. Her mother then has to explain to her that they were raised in a culture to not show affection and they still are learning how to express that affection.

Overall, I recommend anyone to read this book because it is truly a powerful piece of writing.

Here is more information about the author, D.S. Walker:

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