Students scribbled personal struggles on a chalkboard and poster at the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly’s fifth Heritage Festival Extravaganza Monday. The Extravaganza kicked off the annual semester-long festival that will focus on the theme “Strength in Struggle,” through multiple events including keynote speakers, movie nights and other activities.
APASA Programming Director June Moon wanted this year’s theme to focus on Asian Americans’ struggles throughout history.
“A lot of the Asian [and] Pacific Islander experience in America is really deeply rooted in our struggles and also, consequently, our triumphant moments,” said Moon, a sophomore majoring in cognitive science and business administration. “From our heritage to our culture right now, [it] is all about struggle.”
The festival is entirely run by undergraduates. Programming is split between the executive board and APASA interns.
As one of the activities present at the festival, students were able to interact with their struggles by writing them down.
“I think, at the end, when you get to read everything [on the board], you gain everybody’s perspectives on the different levels of struggle that there are,” said APASA intern Kimberly Phung, a sophomore majoring in accounting.
The chalkboard was full within the first hour of the event, with responses such as, “I struggle because my parents are immigrants,” or “I struggle because I am a woman.” Attendees crowded around the art piece, taking photos and reading responses out loud to each other.
“The interactive art piece is not just for Asian Americans, but for everyone, which is why it is so all-encompassing,” said APASA co-assistant director Joshua Limlingan, a junior majoring in human biology.
After writing, students shared stories of struggles and discussed the meaning of the event with APASA members.
“It’s really empowering to see all of these other people and seeing this vulnerable side that we really try to, at least as an Asian American community, … hide,” said Michael Chun, a sophomore majoring in economics. “Being vulnerable is really powerful.”
“Considering we have 27 different member organizations that span from the Chinese American Student Association to the Pacific Islanders Student Association and everywhere in between, we really wanted to help bond all of our organizations together but also reach out to the greater USC community,” said APASA historian Ashton Tu, a sophomore majoring in media arts and practice and communication.
The schedule for the rest of APASA’s festival has yet to be released.