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organizational structures, with the fact that our workshops and events were reaching the same core group of people rather than other members of our campus communities, among other things. A notable light-bulb moment that came out of these discussions was when I spoke about my experience as president of UW-Madison’s Asian American Student Union (AASU) when I had a Skype call with officers from Penn State’s Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC). I talked about the possibility of regular scheduled Skype sessions with other APIA folks in the midwest. Thomas Thao, Programming Chair of the MAASU ECC combined my idea with a previous idea of having a Facebook group, and came up with the idea of using Facebook Live to stream events happening on campus to create a stronger APIA community in the midwest. If this was not the epitome of synergy and collaboration, I don’t know what is!

The highlight of this LS was definitely the closing ceremony. In addition to the many performers (including our very own Jonathon Sun, member of

the Graduate Advisory Council, who beatboxed his reminder for us to take the post-LS survey), we were able to hear from Dr. Ji-Yeon Yuh, director of Asian American Studies at Northwestern. Her speech centered around the core questions: who makes America great? Her answer: we do - “we who are marginalized racialized minorities, we who are women, we who are poor, we who are in the prisons, we who are undocumented, we who have been scored, stereotyped, excluded, and shat on. We are the ones who have made America great by forcing it to live up to its lofty rhetoric of freedom, equality, and rights.” She spoke about the importance of knowing our history and the struggles that we went through, from fighting for our rights to citizenship in the 1920s (and challenging the idea that those who weren’t “white” were ineligible for naturalization) to establishing the first Asian American studies departments in the 1960s.

From speeches by Joseph and Professor Yuh, to the many workshops on constructing race in the midwest and the power of storytelling, among others, this years Leadership Summit was one of the best and most inspiring conferences that I have been to. I hope you all took valuable lessons back to your campuses, and continue to advocate for your communities. I look forward to seeing you all at the Spring Conference, this year at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor from April 7-8!

"We are the ones who have made America great by forcing it to live up to its lofty rhetoric of freedom, equality, and rights."

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