In the month of May, we celebrate Asian, Desi, Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and on the islands of Hawai'i, we say Hau'oli Lā Mei (Happy May Day).
As a mixed-plate Pacific Islander who moved to Oregon for my undergraduate journey and now as a professional academic advisor, I found community by getting connected and grounded by things and the people that were around me. Yes, it was challenging finding them at first. But I followed where the food was. From there, I met many individuals who came from all walks of life. People that poured into me, made memories with, and shared plenty of stories. Ultimately, each individual encouraged and challenged me to discover pieces of myself that made me whole. That made me feel that I am MORE than ENOUGH to represent my family, those who came before me, and our beautiful diverse ADPI community. With this power, I am able to empower others to own and share their stories through the lens of their identities and voices.
At the Pacific Islander Student Alliance (PISA) conference, I was reminded that where we are raised matters. Where we once belonged matters. Where we reside matters. And where we are going matters. Our ADPI culture and practices provide narratives that remind the UO community and the world of the importance of family, food, love, culture, and community building.
A new challenge is in front of us. There’s so much happening in our world. From adjusting our lives for a better “normal” to hearing and experiencing the continued levels of oppression and injustices that fall upon historically excluded populations. What can WE do to help share a little bit of Aloha (love/compassion) with one another while validating individuals’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences through these challenging and ever-changing times? Let us encourage one another to hold space and share our stories so that we can build an even stronger community. It takes all of us—it takes a village.
Many Countries, Many Languages, Many Experiences: Diversity abounds in the Asian Desi Pacific Island Community
By Tuong Vu, Professor and Head, Department of Political Science
As a Vietnamese refugee, I came to Oregon in 2008 when offered a job at the University of Oregon. Prior to coming to Oregon, I have lived in Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California. Compared to those states, Oregon has fewer Asian Desi Pacific Island Americans (and Vietnamese Americans in particular). The statistics say we are the fastest growing group in the state. In this respect, Oregon mirrors the nation, so perhaps one day our community will be as large as in other states.
Another encouraging development is the increasing diversity of our community. Asian Desi Pacific Island Americans are perhaps the most diverse minority group in the US. Even though it may be hard for non-Asians to distinguish among us, we came from more than a dozen different countries, speak just as many different languages, and include followers of all the major world religions. Actually, many of us did not think of ourselves as “Asians” until we arrived in America.
We also came to America under very different circumstances and chose Oregon for different reasons. Unlike Chinese and Japanese immigrants who were drawn to the state in the 1880s to work on farms, fish canneries, lumber mills, and railroad yards, Southeast Asian refugees in the 1970s and 1980s fleeing war and communism did not have much of a choice. If coming to Oregon, they tended to concentrate in Portland and its suburbs where public transportation was well-developed and jobs in the service sector were available.
Eugene has not attracted as many Asians as other Oregonian towns although the university has seen rapidly rising numbers of foreign students from Asian countries, especially China, India, and Vietnam. I teach several courses on Asian politics, which I hope has benefited Oregonian students. I’m proud to have established the US-Vietnam Research Center in 2019 based at the University of Oregon. At the center, we sponsor research and currently publishing three books that seek to change American understanding of Vietnamese and Vietnamese American history.
Asian and Pacific American Student Association
A Passion for Creativity and Design
by Bella Dentler, SOJC, Advertising, Class of 2023
As a first-generation Filipino student, I was always pushed by my family to complete a degree in higher education because I had the means and opportunity. When I chose my major, advertising, it was a shock to my family because it was not in the medical field. I knew though that I needed to follow my passion for creativity and design.
The University of Oregon has provided me with the community and resources to further my career. At the School of Journalism and Communication, I am a director of Taking Up Space (TUS), a BIPOC advertising club focused on creating passion projects and networking with like-minded people. This club was created to bridge the knowledge gap of industry standards and biases, particularly if you are the first in your family to pursue a creative career. TUS also works to create industry ready work and bring real representation to the white saturated industry.
Along with my academics, I hold a position at the Division of Equity and Inclusion as a design, marketing, and social media student staff member. While getting to focus on my passion for creating, I also get to learn more about the diversity on our campus. I always have the 411 on the latest events because I probably made the social posts for them. This job has given me so much insight into the real diversity on campus by getting to bring more attention to these courageous efforts!
I know that coming to the University of Oregon has been the best decision because of how much support I find here. It is seen through my Diversity Excellence Scholarship all the way to my professors at the School of Journalism and Communication. I am so grateful for my community.
Major: ’21 Public Relations
School of Journalism and Communication
Madi Nguyen-Acosta ’21, School of Journalism and Communication, is a recipient of the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) fellowship and the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) specialist for Sony Music Entertainment. Her role specializes in event planning and providing DEI strategic guidance to the business. Nguyen-Acosta’s first insight into the world of DEI was through her position as the programming and events student-lead at the UO Multicultural Center. She dove deeper into the roots of DEI and learned how it manifests in the corporate world through her honors thesis. Learn more in the story: Alumni Profile: How 2021 grad Madilyne Nguyen-Acosta’s passion for culture fueled her work as a DEI specialist.
COVID-19 Impact on the South Asian immigrant community
by Anna Nguyen, Economics, Political Science, Class of 2022
Aakanksha Lahoti, who is a UO doctoral student in counseling psychology, was recently interviewed by Anna Nguyen. Lahoti is conducting research on the socioemotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the South Asian Indian population in North America to better understand how they experience pandemic-related distress. The study will also investigate the impact of COVID-19 travel bans and transnational bereavement in this population.
by Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Yvette Alex-Assensoh
Two years ago, ”Stop Asian Hate” emerged as a rallying cry and social media hashtag in response to the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. Not only have the hate crimes continued since, but national discussions questioning what people are actually doing to stop the hate crimes, besides talking about them, have become an annual tradition ironically commemorating the creation of the hashtag. People in ADPI communities throughout the country are understandably concerned for their safety and frustrated by the lack of substantive action. Clearly, the work must go deeper...
UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s recent excavations archaeologists Jon Krier, Marlene Jampolsky, and Chris Ruiz will discuss how an early twentieth century Chinese restaurant and gift store in downtown Eugene successfully operated amidst racist laws and a predominantly Euro-American community.
The 47th Annual Lu’au
UO Hui ‘O Hawai’i
Lūu’au 2022-Ke Alaua
May 21, 2022
UO Hui ‘O Hawai’i will present their 47th Annual Lū’au-“Ke Alaula” (The Light of Daybreak). A lū’au is a celebration that embraces the Hawaiian culture and the company of one another that Hui ‘O Hawai’i invites you to experience. All are welcome to this event that includes live music, authentic Hawaiian food, and a program featuring traditional Hawaiian dances. This is the first in-person Lū’au in two years and the student organization hopes that this Lū’au will be a symbol of the light that is to come in the future.
Uso: Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander (ADPI) Cultural Connections
Uso is a word derived from the Samoan language and literally translates to mean brother or sister (used by the same gender only) but more universally translates to mean a relative, associate, colleague, or other close relationship. This relationship in Pacific Island cultures is one that is fostered and strengthened by the ‘ohana or family unit. We invite everyone in the UO community into our home (space) and ‘ohana (family) to connect with each other, support each other and be culturally enriched! Uso not only creates a space for ADPI culture to thrive but aims to provide students with holistic wraparound services such as academic advising, career services, and even mental health services from ADPI perspectives, customs, history and traditions. – Aunty Kris
Remember This: Hung Liu at Trillium, is on view through August 2022 in the JSMA’s Barker and Soreng galleries.
Mother, Daughter and River, 2016
Mixed media, 23 x 41 inches
All the Ancestors, 2011
Mixed-media triptych, 60 x 100 inches
In this exhibition, renowned contemporary Chinese American artist Hung Liu explored subjects ranging from portraits to landscapes to still life images and reflects upon history, memory, tradition, migration, and social justice. Characterized by layers of luminous color, drips, and Zen ensō-like circles that mark the passage of time, Liu focused with insight and compassion on “the forgotten” – elevating and imparting dignity and individuality on the poor, the afflicted, and the displaced, women and children, prostitutes and prisoners. Raised at a time when most photographs were destroyed for political reasons, Liu came to view such images as precious keepsakes, and uses historic photos as inspiration, combining (largely anonymous) figures with evocative backgrounds punctuated with traditional Chinese motifs.
The Asian, Desi, and Pacific Islander Strategies Group
The ADPI Strategies Group exists as a space for faculty, staff, and students to nurture community relationships through conversations about shared cultural experiences. Through monthly meetings, the group engages in and advocates for issues related to the diaspora of ADPI communities at the University of Oregon. Prior to the pandemic, members of this group also held luncheons at neighborhood restaurants to strengthen community ties while supporting local ADPI-owned businesses in Eugene.